Today’s blog post is a follow-up from last week’s article regarding teacher workload and the misconceptions surrounding the hours teachers really work.
Sally Baker, a primary school teacher, has posted an intriguing blog post on the Australian Education Union’s website. Her post came a few months after a report ‘ACT Teachers Work Longer Hours Than OECD Average‘ , also published on the AEU website, which presented statistics on the workloads of Australian teachers in both the primary and secondary sectors.
The report draws on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) analysing the hours worked by teachers internationally and the resulting annual publication ‘Education at a Glance’.
The OECD reported that on average Australian primary school teachers have 871 face-to-face hours with students annually. That compares with the OECD average of 782 hours per year.
Sally says that she was prompted to write the article after many non-teacher friends of hers constantly commented on her work hours and how she only works from 9am-3pm, when in fact, this was not the case at all.
Us teachers, and anyone who lives with us, knows that the idea of a teacher only being at work from 9 to 3 is not only madness but also quite impossible if we are doing our job properly.
The article focuses heavily on what is done outside of the classroom, rather than what actually happens during school hours. Sally notes that it would be ‘impossible’ for a teacher to do their job properly within a 9-3 time restraint, and that the job takes a lot more devotion than just turning up to school each day.
As her post is about life as a primary teacher, some of the activities and things Sally has to do for her job aren’t applicable across secondary teachers also, but it does give an interesting insight into some of the rough things that primary teachers have to deal with (cleaning up ‘accidents’ for example). Whilst last week’s infographics and post gave a brief overview on how teachers spend their day, Sally’s article really dives much deeper and gives a full, detailed recount of exactly how a teacher will spend their time.
Teachers arrive early to school and also leave late, with their lunches and breaks often occupied with work-related activities and odd tasks to finish. Setting up, packing up, creating worksheets, finding suitable textbooks and learning materials, including online instructional videos, decorating the classrooms with students work, cleaning up after arty or messy activities, dusting cupboards and wiping down desks…the tasks never seem to end!
If being in charge of 20+ young children wasn’t a lot of work already, teachers must account for all of their work as well, marking assignments on time and tailoring work to suit each student whilst also catching up with parents if there are any issues.
Combine all these small tasks with teacher meetings, parent-teacher meetings, constant emails, planning lessons, assessing, formally reporting and being aware of students social and emotional development and it is hard to argue a case against the real workload of our teachers.
Another insightful piece of information published by the AEU was a research report from Tasmania in 2012 and 2013 focusing directly on teacher workloads in Australia.
The research was conducted through three online surveys and also focus groups, individual interviews and work diaries. What they found was that heavy teacher workloads aren’t just isolated cases, with 70% of Australian teachers strongly agreeing with the statement that “Teaching involves significantly more work or more complexity than it did five years ago”.
More disturbing was that 87.5% of the teachers also said they were not satisfied that their work tasks could be completed within their work hours. Only 27% of the teachers interviewed agreed that their workload was manageable that year.
If there was anything to support Sally Bakers article earlier, this report definitely reflects her feelings towards her workload, and shows us that Sally is not the only teacher having this experience.