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A recent article from education innovation highlights similarities between the work conditions of teachers, students, and prisoners. Though the table’s a bit exaggerated, they do have a point…

One huge gripe I have against teaching is the constant workload. There’s always something that needs to be done. During the school day, I’m grinding non-stop from the moment I open my classroom door til the final bell. I don’t have the same luxury as my peers who can sign onto gchat regularly. I can’t work at my own pace. I can’t take quick mental breaks zoning out on news articles or facebook. I can’t leave work to have lunch outside with friends. My lunch break is ONLY 27 minutes and students drop in regularly for extra help, ask about their grade, or to simply visit. I can’t even use the bathroom at any time I want. I’ve gotta wait til my prep period or lunch, or (if it’s a real emergency) passing period.

Couple all that with everything else we’ve gotta do, the behavior we’ve got to put up with, administrative and state pressures, a lack of support/resources and it’s no wonder 1/4th of all new California teachers leave the profession in 4 years or less.

I’m currently in year 2 and the gripes have not waned. I promised myself I’d give this profession a minimum of 5 years before I make a real decision on it, but I do understand why one would choose to leave right away…

Student drop out rate is a huge issue; but as serious is the drop out rate we’ve got w/ teachers.

2 Responses to “Improved Teacher Working Conditions – Something We Need”

  1. Bronx2020 says:

    All valid points, but is there anything that can be done about this? I mean, all the things you’re talking about are characteristics of a white-collar, office job — which teaching ain’t. You could make the same complaints about a ton of jobs, anything from garbage man to surgeon.

    What sorts of changes, realistically, do you think should be made?

  2. mr. g says:

    You’re right. I think I too often magnify the negatives over the positives (which are many, as well). After posting I realized all I did was merely ask a question without posing a solution. And though I’m with you on the “this ain’t no white-collar, office job”, a few things that COULD (possibly) ease working conditions for me:

    1. An opportunity to meet and plan with colleagues DURING the school day.
    2. One work day every 1 or 2 months where teachers have an opportunity to plan, grade, make copies, organize, maintain classrooms, meet. Our inservice days are too often spent on lousy workshops. The time could easily be used for something better and more productive.
    3. A rotating schedule so that all teachers have their prep period meet their lunch period once a week if one would like to spend their lunch outside campus.
    4. More support, more sense of community: I have NO relationship with my administration and KNOW only a handful of teachers at my school.
    5. We have minimum days once a week at my school (for faculty/dept meeting purposes – both of which I find inefficient and unproductive). Rather than minimum days, why not late start? I’d prefer the latter.

    Anyone else want to chime in on what could improve work conditions for you?

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