Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Myth #1 "Teachers Work 9-3"

The first myth I want to discuss is the idea that teachers only work 9-3 on week days.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous myths that exist. Let me provide reasons why...

A teacher's job is more than standing in front of a class. The hours that teachers work differ from school to school, but let's say for the sake of argument that 9-3 are the hours that students are at school. The 'typical' teaching may occur from 9-3 where students are engaged in activities in a 'typical' classroom setting. But this doesn't take into consideration the following activities that have to happen outside of the time that students are at school. Another important fact; teachers are only recognised as working 5 hours per day on their payslip...so I guess that means 1 hour for lunch...we'll get to that later. Yep, teachers are paid for a 25 hour week; not even for the full 9-3.

Preparation time 

A teacher doesn't just stand up and teach. They have to do a lot of work to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their students prior to the lesson. For a primary teacher this means preparation for each content area they are covering in a day; for a secondary teacher that is for each different class they are taking in that day. Preparation means thinking about what will engage students in the lesson as a content area is being covered. How the teacher will ensure that the needs of all students are met e.g. what resources need to be created different to the other students in the class; what activities need to be included to cater for the learning needs of the students in the class; what tools are needed in the class; how it all fits into the overall unit and meets the assessment requirements; how it is being tailored to ensure all students are engaged in the lesson and it's meeting their learning styles.

Let's put that into some real perspective...minimum of 3 subjects taught per day x minimum 1 hour preparation = 3 hours outside of 9-3, per day; 15 hours outside of 9-3 per week.

Assessment and marking time 

A teacher has to ensure that they are able to provide parents with information about how a student is progressing and meeting the achievement standards for their content area/s. This again, happens outside of 9-3. Marking a piece of work is more than a quick glance and a guess. All student work is assessed against specific criteria. This takes time and occurs throughout a term, depending on what is being done. Feedback needs to provided on drafts so that students can make changes to improve their work. This can't happen between 9-3 when teachers are teaching; it takes time and focus to make sure that things are done properly.

Let's be conservative and say that on average per week a teacher spends 5 hours on assessment and marking processes = 5 hours outside of 9-3 per week.

Extracurricular activities

Schools need to cater for the interests of their students whether these are sporting or cultural. Debating, music, football...need to be managed by teachers in schools. This mean coaching, practice and support for students. And teachers want to do this. They want to see their students excel in something that they enjoy e.g. sport or music. But again, this happens outside of 9-3 or during lunch times (which they aren't paid for).

So again, let's be conservative and say that on average per week there's an hour for coaching/practice and an hour for the event. That's 2 hours additional per week.


There is a mandatory 1 hour staff meeting per week. That doesn't include the meeting with a concerned parent on a Wednesday morning. A meeting after school with the year level teachers about assessment. The Year 6 teacher meeting about behaviour issues. The meeting with your line manager about concerns or feedback.

Let's say there is something on 3 days a week - that's 3 hours outside of 9-3 per week.

Individualised support

Students benefit from extra support. With cuts made to specialists working in schools, that means that teachers need to fill this role. That means tutorials before and after school. That means working with students individually to help them improve and to give them more confidence.

Lets say two students a week for 1 hour each. That's another 2 hours outside of 9-3.

So that's an additional 27 hours on top of the 25 hours per week that teachers are 'paid' for on their pay slip.

Just because you can't see it, it doesn't mean it's not happening. And the items listed here are almost all, only ones that can actually happen at school. And I haven't mentioned the bureaucracy that teachers are required to do e.g. recording parent contact; behaviour management processes; or the professional development that they do in their own time to make sure they are up to date with current practices and addressing specific student learning needs etc.

These numbers are conservative. I've never worked 9-3 a day in my life. An average day for me is 10-12 hours, plus a full day on the weekend. I haven't worked with anyone who only works 9-3 either. I don't have a family, so I admire those Mum and Dad teachers that can do all this and try to have a work life balance.

People in different occupations work hard. This post doesn't dispute that, but asks those who aren't in teaching to better understand what teachers do. There are some myths that deserve to be debunked.

No teacher can possibly work 9-3. Schools are too complex for this to happen.

And before we get into 'holidays'...that's Myth #2 for next week.

For further background to this project please visit the original post.

The image above is created in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios using DSP Amped Up Ampersands - 3 and font Citizen Slab.


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