Having kept as good a track as I could of my hours spent working, last week, I think there are a few take-home messages that bear discussion. So here we go.
1. I knew it!
I began the accounting to demonstrate that teachers do not have an easier schedule than any other particular field, just because our “day is over at 2:30”, or whatever such nonsense someone is spouting off. Two major points should be noted: Our day is over at 2:30-ish because our day starts considerably earlier than the typical “9-to-5” schedule, and even then, our day is not typically over at 2:30, as we have many other things that we do following the ringing of the last bell.
With the exception of Friday, I had something to do after 2:30 (really 2:10 for us), on 4 of the five days of the week. On several days, I didn’t get home until 5pm or later, and on one occasion, I came home only to go back out to a BOE meeting at 7pm. So, anyone still saying that teachers work a 40-hour week is an idiot, a liar, or both. Even with breaks and vacations, we still put in an schedule that equates to approximately 2,000 hours during our 40-week school year (aka the equivalent of 50 weeks at 8 hours per day—we’ll consider the other 2 weeks vacation).
2. In which a few of the more obvious quibbles are swiftly dealt with.
A lot of the things that I did last week that kept me working after the last bell were either in my capacity as a union vice-president, or as the co-advisor of the senior class, both of which are positions for which I receive extra compensation in addition to my base salary. If you think this invalidates the point of my exercise, you are wrong. I never proposed that I am not compensated for the work that I do in these capacities, on top of what I am already being paid. Clearly, that should be the case. If I wasn’t being paid extra to go to a budget meeting at 7pm, I wouldn’t be there. Similarly, I am not going to volunteer to mediate the internecine struggles related to clothing designs for senior events. That’s not in my “classroom teacher” job description. My argument is simply that I earn the salary I receive, and that I do not have it easier than any other professional. Combined, both positions give me an additional ~$7,500 in total salary for the year added to my base pay. If we give a conservative estimate and assume that I spend approximately a hundred hours during the year on senior class events (prom planning, homecoming float building, meetings, etc.), and another hundred hours (meetings, committees, negotiations when necessary) on the union, that would be 200 additional hours of work, for a grand total of $37.50, an hour. Compensation similar to what I get if I work a dance. In other words, I am paid commensurately for the work I do.
A secondary potential “gotcha” might be the argument that last week was not a typical work week for me, and that the total hours worked (~52.4) was abnormally high. While I can’t demonstrate conclusively that this contention is wrong without running things for a few more weeks, I can say that I have pretty strong doubts that this is the case. Certainly, various aspects of last week (particularly union meetings) were elevated compared to the normal week, but other aspects (particularly the amount of work that I did this past weekend) were distinctly below the mean. On the whole, I imagine the fluctuating levels of different tasks to balance out, and would guess that I work 50-60 hours a week on average during the school year, or essentially eight hours a day, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK!!!.
3. I’m not complaining.
It should be stressed that I did not do this little experiment to suggest that I work harder than other professionals with my level of expertise, or that I think that I should be paid more for the work that I do. But I am sick to death of people whining that teaching is somehow easier than other jobs, or that I am paid too much, have too many benefits, or otherwise am getting away with something. If you feel that way, I imagine that we will not agree on too much in life, and I would welcome you to come spend a week working my gig. Let’s talk again at the end and see if you still think I’m getting one over on the tax base that pays my salary.
I think those are the main points that I hit on looking back at the totals for the week. Did I miss something? Am I completely off the mark? Why not let me know about it in the comments? Otherwise, if you ever hear someone talking about how “easy” we teachers have, I trust you’ll tell them (as politely as you choose) to shut their ignorant gobs.