On the 5th of May 2019 I published a blog titled ‘How Many Hours Do Teachers Spend at School on a Typical Day’. In answering my own question, I estimated that I spent about 9.5 to 10 hours at work; however, I didn’t have any concrete evidence to support my claim.
So, it got me wondering; how many hours do I actually work in a typical term?
At the end of term one, I committed myself to this challenge and wrote down all of my start times and finish times for term two. If I was going to complete this challenge, then I needed to follow some rules and I came up with the following:
Work started the moment I parked my car in the car park. If duty of care is active while I am present on school grounds, then I think it’s only fair to consider this as when I start work.
Work ended the moment I entered my car or when I finished a work related task off site e.g. professional learning, purchasing resources for the school etc
I haven’t included any time I spent writing my teaching blogs or pursuing my own education-related interests
I get a lot of teaching ideas from social media; however, I haven’t included that as ‘work’
With these rules now out of the way, lets look at ‘My Working Hours for Term 2’.
CIRCUMSTANCES TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION
There are a couple of things that I would like the reader to consider when interpreting my hours at school. I am the sort of teacher who prefers to complete all of my work at school. I cannot play the graduate teacher’s game and spend endless hours of my time at school. I have a family to provide for and every minute of my time is precious.
I also believe in putting in minimum effort for maximum results.
This statement doesn’t mean that I’m lazy, it means that I value my time. If there is a task that can reduce my workload, like editing my reports using text to speech or using Google forms to automatically mark my multiple choice questions, then I’ll implement these strategies to save myself some time. We only have one life to live and I don’t want to give yet another part of myself to my job.
Other circumstances that need to be taken into consideration include:
I have long service leave that needs to be used up by the end of this year
I am married and have three young children who have their own routines
My wife is studying at university and she works as well
I tutor after school on most weekdays and on Saturday
START AND LEAVE TIMES
Every teacher is different when it comes to working from home, especially when you have children of your own. No matter what choice you decide to make, the work still needs to be completed, whether it would be at home or at school.
I usually arrive at school between 6:45-7:30am and I leave between the times of 3:40-4:30pm. As you can see from my start times, I love getting to work early. It’s the most productive time of the day and I can get about 1.5 hours of uninterrupted work done. I also like to get to work early for another reason.
I get the photocopier all to myself.
I don’t know about you, but I get an overwhelming feeling of joy being the first one to arrive in the teacher’s carpark knowing that I can print off everything I need for the week without waiting in line.
STOP COMPLETING YOUR MOST IMPORTANT TASKS IN THE AFTERNOON
I’m going to say something ‘controversial’ to provoke a response from the teachers who:
don’t complete any work from home in the morning and
who prefer to work long hours in the afternoon
I adamantly believe your best work is NOT completed after 3pm, in fact it’s probably the worst time to complete work. If you’re one of those teachers, I’d like you to think about my statement for a moment and consider the following points about working in the afternoon:
you’ve just completed 6-7 hours of mentally draining work
you’ve had to make hundreds of decisions in your classroom
you’ll have parents who need to speak to you
admin will most likely try to ask you a question or two
your teaching buddy will want to come by for a chat (I’m looking at you Miss B 😉)
If you’re trying to write a school policy or a portfolio for a promotion, any momentum that you build will be lost to these five ‘work vampires’. There is nothing more frustrating than having an important and urgent task to complete and being interrupted.
I suggest that you schedule your less mentally draining work for the afternoon. Think of work that can be resumed quickly despite an interruption. For me, this includes any tests or workbooks that need to be marked along with replying to emails. I’ve found that it’s not that hard to get back into the groove of these tasks if someone needs to speak to you.
So, make sure you schedule your most important work for the morning!
MY TIME SPENT WORKING AT HOME
At the start of my teaching career, I used to complete most of my work after school. After reading some articles about the work habits of successful entrepreneurs I decided to change things up to get the most out of my days. This included getting to bed earlier (9:00pm) and waking up at 5:00am. I also changed my lifestyle for another far more important reason.
I want to be fully present for my family when I come home.
I’ve recently claimed my home back as a ‘work free sanctuary’ and it’s one of the ‘6 Parameters I Set Myself to Prevent Teacher Burnout’. You don’t get back the time you spend at work and to be honest, I don’t look back fondly upon it. In fact, I resent it on some level but that’s the price we pay to survive in this world.
What you will look back fondly upon is the time you spent with your family. My nine year old daughter is growing up right before my eyes and I often think to myself ‘where has all the time gone?’ I cannot think of any stakes higher than this and you only get one chance to raise your children correctly.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but I love spending time with my family and pursuing my own interests more than work.
MY TOTAL HOURS WORKED THROUGHOUT THE TERM
Now for the part that we’ve all been waiting for, my average time spent working each day.
I needed to take two weeks of leave in order to take over the parenting responsibilities of my three young children while my wife spent time assisting a family member with a medical emergency. The staff at work were amazing in reorganising the school in my absence and I’m incredibly grateful for the support they provided.
Sometimes life happens and there is nothing that you can do about it!
Back to the blog. As you can see, the majority of my work stays at work and I couldn’t feel prouder of this achievement. I took the odd day off here and there since I’m required to use up all of my long service leave within two years. I usually spent between 9-9.5 hours on work each day. My longest days were on the 13th of June (12 hours and 3 minutes) and the 12th of June (11 hours and 18 minutes), all of which revolved around adhering to a reporting timeline. Contrary to popular opinion, there was only one day where I worked ‘school hours’ and that was on a professional learning day. Even during the final week of term two I was averaging 9-hour work days.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this week’s blog. If you are curious about the time you spend at work, then I challenge you to do what I’ve done and write down your start and leave times for an entire term. I cannot think of a better way to regain your work-life-balance if you’re reconsidering how much time you spend at work. It will certainly help you to re-evaluate your priorities in life because after all …
There is more to life than just work.
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