In my first year of teaching, I was thrust into the role of a basketball coach. It was mostly because there was nobody else willing to do it. So, a former teacher and I took on the job. I remember thinking it was way more work than I expected. I remember resenting and calling out other teachers for not “pulling their weight” in regard to extracurricular activities. And now, I would like to publicly apologize to those same teachers because I get it now. My first year of coaching basketball was my last.
Extracurricular activities are wonderful additions to any school. The benefits to both students and culture are well researched and documented. Who better to lead these activities than teachers who are already properly vetted and familiar with students? With that being said, many teachers are going to pass on that opportunity and we shouldn’t make them feel bad about it.
Teachers already spend tons of time and money outside of school in service to their students. By some logic teaching itself can be considered an extracurricular activity. And the honest truth is some people just don’t have the capacity to do anything more. This goes double for teachers with families at home.
I remember being a young first-year Teach for America corps member and feeling so high and mighty that I was willing to take on coaching in just my first year while all of the “lazy” older teachers who had been doing this for a while just got to go home. However, as I get older, I realize that my first couple of years teaching was exactly when I should have coached. I’ll never have that small amount of responsibility again. I had nobody to answer to, no kids to pick up, and I didn’t even have a dog to let out. When I was coaching, I typically finished around 8:30 or sometimes even 9 when I had to take kids home…which was every night. There is no way I could do that now.
I would hope that teachers would want to lead extracurriculars or coach. Coaching was very rewarding as was leading a club. And even if you can’t coach or lead a club, simply going to the games does a lot for students.
So this isn’t to say teachers shouldn’t participate in extracurricular activities. It is to say teachers should do what their capacity allows them.