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Teachers Work Fewer Hours Than Most Professionals

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.