Teachers are often faced with prejudices concerning their working hours. Coming back as early as 2 pm, some people think that the workday is over. Neighbours shout over the fence: “I should have become a teacher”. Well, maybe. On the other hand, if somebody genuinely asked about my working hours, I could probably give three answers. The truth is probably in the middle.
1. 25 hours
This is the least probable answer I would give. More or less this is only the assumption of those who think that a teachers’ work is only countable if he or she is standing in front of a class, explaining, shouting or giving tasks. So, to cut it short, this doesn’t really come close to the truth.
2. 50 hours
Teachers who have the desire to get better and to provide lessons that motivate and support the different types of students have to do a lot of preparation. The content has to be structured, the methods adapted. Surely not every lessons needs the same amount of preparation, but there are certainly projects that need the work of many hours. But even if we assumed that not every lesson has its counterpart of preparation, there are calls to be made, meetings to be held and corrections to be done. So these 50 hours are probably as close to the average truth as we can get (even though I know of colleagues who work more than 80 hours in some weeks).
Obviously, this is a manager-like exaggeration. However, there are many things that I think of as being part of the profession that were not mentioned in the aforementioned tasks:
- Trying to stay up to date in order raise awareness to current developments
- Connection to other educators in order to discuss problems and exchange new didactic material and theory.
- Having an eye on your environment at all times: there are songs, TV-shows, texts and so much more that the students would never be confronted with without your help.
- Blogging and twittering (for example in #edchat discussions) to create a bigger network.
- Helping your students via social networks (if not prohibited) and mail
Honestly, I don’t even know how close to the truth that is.
To sum it up, this short list shows that there are many (to my mind at least three) answers to the easy question of how many working hours a teacher has to do during the week. The big difference is that – at least in Germany – it mostly depends on the individual decision of the educator to do more or to do less work. And unfortunately there are not few that tend to decide for the first “choice”. So the neighbours will keep asking.
What are your experiences?