What It’s Like to Be a Teacher in an Elementary School: A World of Desks, Clocks, and Books

This study explores the nature of teachers’ roles, expectations of teachers, and quality of teacher life in school. Looking at the challenges faced by educators today, the author suggests that making choices about ‘teacher care’ may have a powerful influence on teacher attempts to find a balance between the demands of their personal and professional lives.


“The immediate benefit of a study such as Hiebert’s is the relevance and the connectedness of the work to the way teachers live in schools at the beginning of the 21st century. By focusing the research on the lives of teachers in one school over the course of a year – the rhythm of the school year is depicted in rich and real language. The qualitative analysis underscores the relevance of teachers’ lives in any debate regarding societal expectations for teaching and school leadership.” – Jacki McLaren, Principal, Calgary Board of Education

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Preface by Jacki McLaren, Principal
1. Considering Teachers’ Lives at School
2. The Process of Exploring Teachers’ Lives
3. My Desk Represents My Reality
4. The Clocks Are Controlled Downtown
5. It Only Matters If You Care
6. Teachers’ Lives in Schools
Appendix A – Summaries of Four Regulatory Documents
Appendix B – Roles That Teachers Play
Appendix C – Permission to Conduct Research
Appendix D – Consent Forms
Appendix E – Interview Templates
Appendix F – Teachers Talk About Their Teaching Backgrounds
Appendix G – Letter Requesting Closure