How Many Hours Should I Work?
I spend 26 hours per week in class, including monitoring and greeting during passing periods, and in mandatory meetings of the utmost importance. (First, let’s not minimize the physical and pychological toll it takes to be “on” that much, especially when your audience is captive and, for the most part, doesn’t really care about what you are saying.)
I usually get to work about a half hour early…plus 2.5 hours per week.
I work through lunch without eating 3 or 4 days per week…plus 3 hours per week.
I stay until 4:30-5:00 every day and then go pick up my kids…7.5 hours per week.
I do a little grading while at the same time taking care of the kids and making dinner until the wife gets home…plus 4 hours per week.
Two or three nights a week I will work for a couple of hours after the kids have gone to bed…plus 5 hours per week.
I work on average 8-10 hours over each weekend. About half of that time is always while my wife takes the kids somewhere fun so I can sit and do the most mind-numbing shit imaginable that doesn’t even get me any exercise or fresh air…9 hours per week.
That’s 57 hours per week. That’s about all I’ve got for this. I know a lot of teachers work a lot more. They are engaged in some combination of wasting their time, burning themselves out, or just plain being stupid. Particularly when most of the out-of-class time requires brain function, to quote myself, “only a notch or two above blinking and digestion“. And then you have diminishing returns. How much time should I spend on the kid who has already failed this class once, failed another of my classes and gives no indication that he intends to come to school much or do any work?
Do I just need to have higher expectations? Call his mom…again? Bring her in? Have all of the teachers , a counselor and a social worker meet again so we can simultaneously waste the time of 6-8 people at once? I suppose that’s more efficient…in a way. Draw up a “behavior and attendance contract”? Has anybody really seen these things work for more than 10 days? Or do they just take up time and make us feel like we are doing something useful by creating yet more “documentation’? How much time should we spend once we have all realized that we are wasting our time?
If you’re a teacher, that’s when you double-down!
And even at 57 hours I am always way behind in terms of entering my data for this and that and documenting this and that and even just the basic shit that even I think is important like grading and giving feedback. That’s why I wonder: If I make a phone call to a parent, why do I have to document that phone call? Half the reason I don’t make the call in the first place is because then I have to take the additional time to record it somewhere. (I know. “It only takes a couple of seconds.” But I say to you, everything only takes a couple of seconds or a couple of minutes and I am tired of dividing my day into hundreds of mindless, repetitive tasks every week with my only real goal being to get through more of them the next week.)…The administrators will tell you it’s important to document parent contacts for legal reasons and in case some parent ever asks and is upset, then we will have documentation.
First, in six years I have never, ever been asked for any sort of documentation for any reason about communication with parents by anybody other than my supervisor who has “check parent log” listed on a big list of boxes to check when they are “evaluating” me. Second, an excel spreadsheet with a bunch of real or made-up phone calls doesn’t prove anything, in or out of court.
Dammit…I usually like to tear it up a bit on Columbus Day. Spain is fuckin’ awesome. However, while my wife took the kids to the park and then hung up Halloween decorations, I spent the whole day grading papers and putting useless numbers into the “standards mastery tracker”. Big fun and totally useful.
Ssshhhh…Do you hear that sound?…It’s the Achievement Gap shaking in its boots.
UPDATE: Holy Crap!!! I somehow forgot to include my planning period into the figures above. That is 85 minutes per day; 425 minutes per week…let’s say 2/3 of that time is actually working…4.5 hours.
That bumps me up over 60 hours per week on this job that is 30% babysitting, 30% teaching and changing the world, and 40% treadmill.