Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 6:00 AM
National data shows that on average teachers work fewer hours per week than people in other professions--nearly three hours a week less. That's according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ohio’s Teacher of the Year skipped breakfast.
Worthington middle school teacher Tim Dove had a cup of coffee at home and was in his classroom by 6:45 Monday morning. Twenty minutes later students began to wander in. Some chatted with Dove, the 2011 Teacher of the Year, about everything that happened the night before; others made a beeline for him to get help with last night’s homework. It’s not uncommon for him to be with a dozen kids by 7:15 a.m., Dove said.
About twelve hours — and one cafeteria lunch — later, Dove would pack his bags to head home to his wife and dog and three hours grading practice research paper citations, a set of essays and a geography quiz and preparing for Tuesday’s classes.
Dove says work days like this are standard for him and his colleagues at Worthington’s Phoenix Middle School, which has a longer school day and a different model than most traditional public schools.
But they're not the norm.
National data shows that on average teachers work fewer hours per week than people in other professions--nearly three hours a week less. That's according to this 2008 analysis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (brought to our attention by the Buckeye Institute). The analysis is based on interviews from 2003-2006 conducted as part of the American Time Use Survey.
The data includes both time in the classroom and time spent grading papers at home. It doesn’t include vacations and doesn’t account for the intensity of different types of work.
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[/module]Jeffrey Keefe is on the faculty at Rutgers University's School of Management and Labor Relations. He's also a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank that supports public policies that "protect and improve the economic conditions of low- and middle-income workers."
He says the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ findings are in line with other research on how much time teachers spend working.
"The study is showing you what the average teacher does. And the average teacher is probably showing up at 8 a.m., leaving around 3:30 or 4 and, later in the day, grading and preparing and putting in a couple more hours at home," he said.
The required work day in the Cleveland public schools, for example, is 6 hours and forty minutes, including a 40-minute lunch break.
There are a couple reasons why the national data clashes with some teachers’ experiences, said Rachel Krantz-Kent, the author of the BLS study:
“It’s easy to argue that if one was mainly watching TV than this is how it should be recorded in the data. However, if the teacher was also providing some attention to grading papers during this time, she may not feel like she had much of a break from work,” Krantz-Kent wrote.
[related_content align="left"]And, of course, there is individual variation: Just like some office workers come early and stay late while others clock out right at 5 p.m., some teachers work long days, while others only put in eight hours.
Compared to teachers in other countries, U.S. teachers work more hours per week, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an organization including 34 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.
But the OECD survey just asked teachers how many hours they worked in a typical week on school-related activities and then multiplied that by the “typical number of instructional weeks per year.” That’s a less accurate way of measuring how people spend their time than conducting telephone surveys, the method used in the BLS analysis.
When we got Tim Dove, the Teacher of the Year, to describe his day to us that Monday evening, he stepped us through it, hour-by-hour, as accurately as he could.
Dove has been teaching for 31 years. As an Ohio State University adjunct professor, book author and educator, he’s not the norm, and his work day isn’t necessarily either.
“All I can tell you is what I do and the people I work with here do,” he said.
But Dove said his schedule—and his job—suits him.
“I like coming to work. It's my vocation and my job and my work: It's all three,” he said. “It always has been.”
Tomorrow: See how two different teachers spend their days, hour-by-hour.
Note: A previous version of this story misstated the how data is collected for the American Time Use Survey. Data for the survey is collected through telephone interviews.