Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

How much do teachers work?

How much do teachers work over the course of the year? Let me tell you that no one has the slightest idea. Here’s why: First, different sources put work hours per week (during the school year) anywhere from about 40 hours a week to 50. That’s a huge difference. My guess is weekly hours during the school year aren’t too different from the hours of other college educated professionals. Second, there is no good evidence on how much time teachers spend during the summer prepping for teaching. Here my guess is that teachers put in quite a few hours unpaid hours during the summer, but the data behind the guess isn’t all that good. Bottom line: the uncertainty about hours of off-the-clock teacher work is too large to let us draw good conclusions about how many hours a year the average teacher puts in.

In contrast, we do know something about how many days a year teachers put in on-the-clock. My friends at the NCTQ put together the numbers for me. Here we compare teachers to private sector, “professional and related” workers with 10 years experience.

Days per year Teachers Private sector professional workers with 10 years experience
Work days per year 260
Paid vacation 20
Paid holidays   9
Contracted work days 185 231
Paid sick/personal leave   13.5   11
Work days if all leave taken 171.5 220

The on-the-clock work days per year numbers are probably pretty accurate, But, again, we don’t know much about off-the-clock hours.

The NCTQ has turned up one very interesting fact. They report that the average number days of sick leave for teachers isn’t that different from what private sector professionals get (13.5 versus 11 in the table above). But NCTQ found huge variation in contracted leave days. A number of districts give teachers 20+ days of leave. That seems awfully high.

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9 Responses to How much do teachers work?

  1. Gaz says:

    As a PGCE student, I find that I am working soo many hours more than an average job (and I only teach 6-8 lessons a week!) most of my time at home is taken up by paper work or mainly planning the next lesson.
    Im told my planning and other paper work will get faster as I get better at it, but at the same time I will then be doing more lessons a week.

    So I can fully understand how it is easily 50+ hours a week a mainstream teacher works.

  2. Jack says:

    As a veteran (elementary) teacher–I can say with all certainty that teachers work many, many hours outside of their contracts–both in the evenings grading and planning—AND answering emails from parents. Sundays at my house are often spent planning for the week ahead. I have never ever reported to work at 9 a.m. I typically arrive at school by 7 and leave after 5. Teachers have 30-40 minutes for lunch during which time I eat lunch (standing) while I am prepping for my afternoon classes. If I’m lucky, I get to go to the restroom…….Another misnomer—that teachers have ‘all summer’ off—in our dreams! Between attending professional developments, training, out of state PD, and setting up classrooms, our vacation comes out to two or three weeks at a run. Oh, and did I mention back to school nights, PTO meetings, mentoring other teachers, school celebrations and functions? You don’t get paid for those at all. 🙂

  3. Melissa says:

    @globeteck Don’t forget to subtract all the sick days, personal days, & vacation days. Did I miss anything?
    I remember teachers doing their work while students are working on theirs.

  4. Peter Bayliss says:

    Absolute rubbish.

    Teachers clock on at 9am and schools out at 3pm – how in the hell do you get 40-50 hours per week. The teacher next door to us is home at 3.20pm on the dot every day !!!
    The more pertinent question is how long does the teacher actually teach classes each day. An ex teacher I know puts it at around 3-4 hours per day. Teachers, through their
    union, have become the most underworked and overpaid “workers” in Australia bar none. They are also incompetent as any cursory reading of Australia’s numeracy and literacy deterioration shows.

    • Tiffany says:

      Not all teachers clock in at 9 just saying. Most clock in at around 7 for high school. They do not leave until at least 3. That is 8 hours right there. Now if they need to work over time for a sport or to help a student, that is where they get all the hours.

    • Marie says:

      There is so much more that goes in to teaching than being in the classroom or even at school. Please do not compare clocking in and out of a ‘leave it at work’ job, with teaching. Teachers are planning and preparing before they go into school each morning, and each afternoon, along with part of their weekends, and a good bulk of their summers are: planning, grading, researching, preparing, and shopping for classes amongst other things.

      Most teachers are in their building by 7:30 average. School lets out around 3, but many teachers also have after-school responsibilities, classes or tutoring.
      Before school: Plan out morning message, board work, prepare folders etc 30min*5= 2.5 hrs
      At school: Teaching 5 periods, 45 min each 4.5 hours*5= 18.75 hrs
      After-school class 2*45min= 1.5 hrs
      Grading 23 papers, 23 Writing notebooks, 23 Math notebooks = 2.5hrs*4 nights= 10 hrs
      Researching for, planning for, creating materials for engaging lessons = 2hrs*3 = 6 hrs + 2*3hrs on the weekend = 12 hrs
      We’re already at 44.75 hrs and we haven’t added in: planning meetings, Professional Development meetings, extra time on certain weeks for Parent Teacher Conferences, Final grading and report cards, portfolios, school productions, etc

      Walking in my door, does not mean I am not working for my school, my class and my students. It just means I’m not doing it inside the school building.

    • Kate says:

      Your comment is rubbish. Do not make ridiculous remarks on something you don’t know anything about. Most teachers work more than 8 hours a day. Also why are you creepily spying on the teacher next door to you for you to know that she/he is home at 3:20pm every day? Why does it matter to you anyways?

  5. @globeteck says:

    @brother_polight #IRS LMAO Teachers get paid $40k to work 172 days a year https://t.co/FH3VeWeflH
    https://t.co/o9DgRZwIrO

  6. Pingback: The Truth Behind Teacher Unions - Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President - Page 14 - City-Data Forum

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