I feel like a very dull girl this week. I know we teachers shouldn’t grumble about the return to work after six weeks off, but there are a few things I need to point out. Firstly, it’s not really six weeks. The first is spent in an exhausted coma (if you’re not the mug who volunteers for summer school), the second is spent catching up with housework that you last touched at Easter, the third is spent apologising and making it up to families and friends whom you’ve neglected for the last seven weeks, and at some point you want to get a few days away. Then there’s several days of school work, two days collecting exam results, a day shopping for new shoes/bag/pencil case and three days of panicking about the impending return to the chalkface. By my reckoning, that leaves two days. Hurrah for long breaks.
Seriously, one of my biggest gripes is people who grumble about teachers’ hours. It’s a great job, and it has its perks, but it’s damned hard work, emotionally, intellectually and sometimes physically. The hardest job is that done by the mainscale teacher with no extra responsibility – they have the fullest timetable and, in many cases, almost the least experience. This means they’re probably planning everything from scratch for every lesson; over a few years the bank of resources you gather becomes your crutch.
Some years ago I worked out approximately how many hours I worked over a year. It was something like this:
I arrive at school at 7.30 and leave at 4.15. I have a break of 15 minutes and lunch of about half an hour, so ‘working’ hours in school are 8 hours. I generally do an hour or two in the evenings and 2-3 hours on a Sunday afternoon, so my weekly hours would be 47-ish. That’s for 39 weeks as we have 13 weeks holiday, making it 1833 hours a year. I have previously worked it out that I spend roughly 1/3 of the holidays working. If I’m honest that’s probably 4 hours a day, and that works out at 87 hours a year. I can also do up to six 2 hour parents evenings, three 1 hour presentation evenings and two 3 hour open evenings each year. Altogether that’s 1941 hours a year, so an average over 52 weeks of just over 37.
If that was to be worked out over 47 weeks, taking into consideration something more like the average 20 days hol + bank holidays, it’s just over 41.
Some teachers will tell you we work our fingers to the bone, and some non-teachers will tell you we’re lazy bums who twiddle our thumbs for a living and moan about having to do that, but our working hours aren’t really longer or shorter than most, they’re just different. If you don’t agree, and still think it’s easy, go for it – train, and join us – we’re desperate for mugs just like you!
(And if you’re offended by that, grab yourself a pinch of salt to have with it. Teaching is often the best job in the world, for all its challenges, and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.)
I am now going to offer you a musical interlude by planting an earworm. Here are The Bangles, with their Manic Monday (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) which I dedicate to all my school-based colleagues.
Corny? Sorry, I really am too tired to try any harder.