A Day in the Life of a Teacher

Read about a typical day in the life of an elementary teacher - if you are thinking about teaching as a profession or are curious to know more about what it’s like to be an elementary teacher, this diary insert will help!

We asked third-grade teacher Heather Aulisio “What is a day in the life of a teacher” really like?

what a day is like for a teacher

Teacher Life - it’s a thing! Something only teachers themselves can truly understand, I’ll break down my typical teaching day so you’ll have a realistic sense of what our day looks like, hour by hour.

If you are interested in entering the profession, you’ll have a better understanding pretty quickly! Or if you’re already a teacher, hopefully you’ll nod your head in agreement and feel a sense of community among our profession and craft. Here is a day in the life of a teacher, through my eyes!

First thing | Homeroom

While this officially kicks off the beginning of school, a teacher’s day has begun far before that. Usually arriving at least a half hour before we have to, teachers spend most of their morning straightening desks, setting up papers, making copies, and sometimes attending morning meetings, all for the sake of their students.

Homeroom can totally seem like a whirlwind. Once the first kiddo arrives, it’s action packed until announcements. From sorting notes, collecting lunch money, and tracking down homework, taking attendance is a welcome reprieve. Teachers know that homeroom really sets the tone for the day so we try to keep things happy, positive, and as mellow as possible. We ask our kids to write in their journal, or set up their planners, or even complete an at the bell task-literally anything to get them engaged and keep them busy during this “unstructured” time. I’ve learned to be extremely organized, become a master at multitasking, and also a pro at listening to a student who is speaking to me and a conversation between students taking place across the room. 

Morning | First Switch

We switch classes in my school, so students are scattered throughout my grade level. Some come and some go, and we hit the books right away, never wasting a moment of math time. Keeping up with my district’s scope and sequence is key, to stay on track with learning goals and state testing requirements. After teaching the mandatory stuff, I always leave a little time for movement breaks, hands on activities, and even partner games because students need to interact with each other. While some think I’m lounging around, catching my breath at this time, I’m always assessing student progress, entering grades, or thinking about tomorrow’s lesson for planning purposes, based on how my students performed today. This could mean keeping my plans or completely changing them!


Oh lunch, how I love thee! Finally a moment to take a break and chat with my colleagues. While we do take this time to unwind duty-free for a bit, we do always find ourselves talking about students of concern, or schedule changes to accommodate upcoming events or class parties. I also squeeze in some quick must do’s, like making copies, setting up for Science class or squeezing in a quick parent phone call or email if needed! 

Early Afternoon | Second Switch

Repeat the morning, but with new students and new needs. Some days my lessons go smoothly, other days there’s bumps in the road based on all kinds of factors - student disagreements, fire drills, safe drills, assemblies, band lessons, a student illness - who knows! The point is that when you’re a teacher, you have to roll with things as they come and learn to be ultra-flexible based on the day and the way your students react to the lesson, or in some cases, each other.


Late Afternoon | Related Arts

Our students enjoy gym, art, library, music, or technology during related arts time. After I drop them off, I play catch up with my email, call parents, attend meetings if needed, or lesson plan and make copies. I take this time to scan blogs that focus on teacher life and offer cool strategies, resources, or tips to make my day go smoother and help my students get excited to learn. I enjoy a cup of coffee or a snack to help me unwind - especially if I’ve had a trying morning, be it because of student behavior, a high energy activity, or on the complete flip side - if students weren’t as responsive to my lesson as I’d like. 

I’ve learned over the years that my breaks are precious and to also not beat myself up if something doesn’t go as perfect as planned. There is no such thing as “perfect” in teaching. And it’s taken me nearly 17 years to realize that!

End of Day

Clean up, pack up, listen for announcements, and out the door they go. Instantly prepping for tomorrow, I utilize my time wisely, making sure all my copies are ready to go for the next day. I have my plans complete, and cross my t’s and dot my i’s in case of an informal observation from my administrators. I’d like to say that I don’t bring anything home with me, but some days I just can’t be SuperMan and get it all done! 

In conclusion, a teacher truly does touch a student’s life in some way, forever. We are always thinking about our kids, our lessons, and how we can provide our students with a safe, nurturing space since our classrooms serve as a home away from home. While the days can seem long, the year really is short. I hope you enjoyed learning about our day from the eyes of a teacher.

Discover a wide range of professional development resources for teachers over at our dedicated resource hub. Whether you're interested in improving your teaching skills with new concepts, learning how to better manage your time in the classroom, or avoid burnout with self-care strategies, we have the advice and resources to help ensure you're teaching at the highest possible level.

About the author

Heather Aulisio


About Heather

Heather Aulisio (B.S., M.S. Ed.) is a 5th grade math and science teacher. She has been teaching in a public school setting for 19 years. Heather has previously taught third… Read more

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