I’ve always wondered exactly how many hours I spend at school on a typical day. So, I decided to start recording down my start and leave times for each day this term. I always knew teachers worked incredibly long hours, but I was well and truly surprised at just how long I spent at school each day. While I was getting into the habit of recording my start and finish times, I thought I would open up this question to the rest of the teaching profession. Just like my High School Transition blog, I decided to post this question onto a Facebook group called TeachMeet WA. Here is a screenshot of my post as of 3rd of May, 2019 @ 5:40pm.
Well it turns out my hunch was correct; teachers do work incredibly long hours! So here is the break down of the data that I analysed based from 137 responses.
75% of teachers spend more than 8.5 hours at school
The middle 50% of teachers (the box in the box and whiskers graph) spend between 8.5 to 10 hours at school
The top 25% of teachers spend between 10 hours and 12 hours at school
The bottom 25% of teachers spend between 7 to 8.5 hours at school
Only 12 teachers mentioned that they worked under 8 hours a day.
Most responses included how many hours they spent working from home during weekdays and on the weekend.
Those teachers who reported less hours at school usually did more work at home compared with teachers who stayed at school longer
Most teachers mentioned that they excluded the time they spent on reporting from their responses.
This question was asked during week one of term two.
Commute time was not included
Other Relevant Data
Responses detailing hours: 137
Mean: 9.25 hours (rounded to 2 decimal places)
Mode: 10 hours
Range: 5 hours (after outliers were removed)
Minimum: 4 hours
Maximum: 12.5 hours
First Quartile: 8.5 hours
Median: 9.5 hours
Third Quartile: 10 hours
Interquartile Range: 1.5 hours
Outliners: 4, 6 & 12.5 hours
There are three important concepts that come to mind when analysing the data.
The collective health and well being of teachers is at risk
That we deserve a pay rise to cover the cost of living
That we work a lot longer than ‘school hours’
Firstly, I am concerned for the health and well-being of teachers who consistently spent over 10 hours at work every day. Teaching is a mentally exhausting job and if we’re not careful then it will totally consume us. How much energy are these teachers leaving for themselves? How much are they leaving for their families? How many hours does this cohort spend completing work at home? Being in such a state of mental exertion over a long period of time will undoubtedly lead to burn out and possibly death. If we don’t take steps to limit how much of ourselves that we give to our profession, then we’ll end up as just another disillusioned martyr left on the scrap heap of teachers who are forcibly retired on medical grounds. I was pleased to see that most of the teachers who responded did set themselves limits as to how many hours they are prepared to spend at school.
Secondly, the current pay offer to teachers by the West Australian government is completely inadequate. Their public sector wages policy doesn’t even cover the rise to the cost of living caused by inflation. Each year I’ve gained more experience as a teacher and with that comes a new set of skills; however, I’ve been working longer hours without an adequate increase in pay to reflect the new skill set I’ve developed. I can confidently say that we are worth more than a $1,000 increase in pay each year. Having worked at the same rate of pay as a senior teacher for a few years and having previously failed my level three portfolio, a promotion which is harder to achieve than becoming a deputy, I can see why teachers leave the classroom and make the transition into administration. New deputies get their pay rise when they start their new roles but newly promoted level three teachers, who have already been teaching at an incredibly high level for a long time, must wait til next year before receiving their pay rise. I’ll let you come to your own conclusion as to why the Department of Education does this.
Lastly, if this data doesn’t dispel the myth that we only work during school hours then I don’t know what else will. Our workload can wildly fluctuate based on the needs of our students, parents and the school community. We must carefully balance how much time we spend on pastoral care while making sure we teach the curriculum. Something that might be ‘important but not urgent’ can suddenly become ‘urgent and important’. Anything else we have planned for the day might need to be put to one side while we deal with whatever task that has suddenly become our top priority. To cope with the increased workload that comes with experience, I’ve learnt new organisational skills such as: block scheduling, batching and categorising my work to help better determine what work I should complete first. I’ve also been getting to work earlier and I’ve been working throughout my lunch break; however, even with all of these improvements to my effectiveness at school there comes a time where you just have to say that’s enough I’m done with work for today.
I certainly hope this blog has given the teaching profession food for thought. I wouldn’t mind running another survey which looks at how long teachers spend working at home and on the weekend. If you have any feedback for me regarding this blog post, then feel free to contact me via email or on social media.
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Explanation of Data
I scanned through all the comments one by one and recorded the teachers’ responses into a tally. There maybe minor errors with this data.
If a teacher stated, ‘I usually spend 9 to 10 hours at work’, then I just went off their average (9.5 hours).
If a teacher reported their typical start and finish times e.g. 7am to 4pm, then I extracted their hours from this time (9 hours)
Raw Data Extracted from the Post
Feel free to cut and paste these numbers into Alcula to get the exact same data I did.
The bar graph was created in Microsoft Excel.