Advocacy, Community, Education

A day in the life of a primary school teacher

With rolling school strikes on their way, Rapuara School teacher Mikayla Avant sat down with reporter Matt Brown to talk him through a school day to help explain why teacher’s need more support.


5 am: Get up early and get ready to work out at the gym at 6am.

7.45am: At my desk getting ready for the day. You can plan weeks in advance, but something might go wrong, or something might change so your plan gets ripped up and scribbled out. Usually, I’m just sitting at my laptop planning, photocopying, printing.

8.40 am: School begins. We start with the roll, I call it fast admin.

“We go over what’s got to be done during the day, what’s important, and then reacting to whatever the children want to tell me.

9 am: Maths usually goes on until 10.10 and then the children go to morning tea after they’ve done their doubles; basic arithmetic, and they go and play.

10.10 am: If I’m not on duty, I pick up after them and I reorganise myself and get ready for reading. I might shoot over to the staff room to grab a coffee. Sometimes there’s something being said in the staff room that we all need to know.

10.30 am: Class novel. We’re reading Fish in a Tree in class. It’s about being kind and respectful.

10.45 am: Then, we have a reading program that we do, and I go through them with that. Recently, it’s been quite hectic because we have had a whole school enquiry, voyaging, based on the Totaranui.

11.15 am: If it’s not inquiry, it’s writing. We’re going to do newspaper articles starting next week.

12.15 pm: I’d say I have time to eat but I don’t really. I’ll eat if I’m on duty or I’ll grab a hot drink and meander around, make sure the kids are alright. Every teacher has a morning tea duty and a lunch duty. Otherwise, I’m either in here doing work, marking, reading. I’ll shoot over to the staff room, try to eat.

People think you can sit in the staff room, eat your lunch and have a yarn but you can’t. You always have got printing or marking or something to do.

You don’t get that leisurely lunch that everyone thinks that you get.

Rapaura school teacher Mikayla Avant says you don’t become a teacher for the paycheck. Photo: Matt Brown.

1.00 pm: 15 minutes of reading. I go around and make sure they are quiet reading and ask them some questions about what they’re reading.

1.15 pm: In the afternoon we have ‘inquiry’, so we go fully in depth in that area. That takes up the whole afternoon. Writing, science, technology, literacy, maths, everything. It’s about five weeks of really in-depth learning, or teaching from me, based off something wherever we’re going with that.

2.50 pm: School ends, for the children.

4.30 – 6pm: I’m usually here ‘til about five, six some nights and I always take work home. I would be lucky to get out at 4.30.

Because I’m a beginning teacher, I work, eat dinner, work. I probably usually put my laptop down about nine. On top of that, you still have your other paperwork behind the scenes.

I have meetings. Monday morning, Tuesday after school. Every fortnight I have a syndicate meeting at 7am. Thursdays I have a meeting with my mentor. I pretty much have a meeting every day, minus Fridays.

7.30pm: More preparation for class. If I get the chance, I might watch Netflix but that doesn’t always pan out.

9.30-11pm: I try to go to bed as early as I can but have to make sure I’m ready for the next day. I set my alarm for 5am and then do it all again.

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