Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Working hours

The common perception is that teachers are overworked and underpaid.  There was a time (and still are in some areas) when this is true.  The first three years as a graduate teacher are a slog.  Exam marking.  Designing investigations.  Managing 30 adolescents is hard.

but.. are teachers actually doing the quoted average 60 hours per week? Possible reasons for these working hours are lack of organisation, failure to collaborate, capacity building, reinventing the wheel, "recovery time", carrying unproductive staff, behaviour management and allocation of duties beyond the classroom. At face value it appears to be a misconception that isn't really happening and was based on historical/aged evidence.

Today we buy exams, work across schools to share assessments, mark formally less frequently, have programmes that describe what to teach, when to assess and what to assess that are trialled and tested over multiple years (the last full syllabus refresh was 2016ish), have IT to assist reusing of resources, have significant item banks to draw assessment from.  It is not clear what the majority of teachers are doing that takes increased working hours beyond the 37.5 normal working week.

Teachers have 20ish hours of contact time - that leaves an additional 40 hours (according to the average) of time doing DOTT tasks (of which traditionally 20 hours are unpaid, recompensed through additional holidays and flexible time outside of school hours).  The lack of auditing of what teachers are doing to ensure that time is being efficiently used, talks to systemic management inefficency and appears to be an area that can be investigated for more productive use of public monies.

Yet the perception is that teachers are overworked and underpaid.  Why and how can this perception shift can occur to that we are in a priviledged situation and have a profession that not only is well staffed, conditioned, paid and catered to.  It is an unpopular postulate that we are not overworked/underpaid but one that needs to be considered and marketed.

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