Archive for Monday, March 12, 2007

Survey: Teachers overworked, lack sufficient time to plan

March 12, 2007

Advertisement

Amanda Bayens isn't a typical new teacher.

She was called a "shining star" last fall when she received a Horizon Award given to top new teachers entering their second year in the profession.

But the Pinckney School second-grade teacher already can see why some teachers don't last in the profession: a heavy workload and little time to plan and collaborate with other teachers.

"It can be overwhelming," Bayens said.

She's not alone.

Recently compiled local results from the Kansas Teacher Working Conditions Survey indicates that 85 percent of the teachers in her school - and 61 percent of Lawrence's teachers - don't think they have enough noninstructional time to do their jobs.

The survey was taken in 2006 of some 21,000 teachers in the state, including about 574 of Lawrence's 922 teachers. It was designed to assess school conditions in the areas of time, professional development, facilities and resources, school leadership and teacher empowerment.

Negotiators for the Lawrence Education Association and for Lawrence's school district are currently discussing increasing the amount of time that elementary teachers have to plan.

Time considerations

Last week, Blake West, president of the Kansas National Education Association, went over some of the localized results of the survey with members of the Lawrence Education Association. West said one of the key concerns he noticed among Lawrence's teachers was the amount of time they had to do their jobs.

For example, 59 percent of them said they disagreed that they have reasonable class sizes, affording them time to meet their students' educational needs.

Also, 61 percent said they disagreed that they had enough noninstructional time to do their jobs.

And an overwhelming number of teachers, 98 percent, said they spent time on school-related activities outside their regular school work day. Thirty-seven percent said they spent more than 10 hours a week outside their regular work day.

Red tape

Paperwork also was a concern among Lawrence teachers.

Lynn Heffley, a Pinckney teacher who was named 2007 Elementary Teacher of the Year, said workloads have been increasing "tremendously" during the 25 years she has taught in Lawrence.

"My workload now has a lot more to do with expectations and paperwork," Heffley said. "We do have a lot more paperwork and record keeping and tracking of children. It takes a lot of time."

Heffley said the extra workload is one factor that drives teachers out of the profession.

"The rewards have to balance with that," she said. "Children are the rewards for me."

The survey showed that 60 percent of Lawrence teachers disagreed that efforts were made to reduce paperwork.

Time important

Martha Gage, director of teacher education and licensure for the Kansas Department of Education, said finding enough time for teachers to meet the demands put on them is complicated.

"We need to be looking at the school day and we need to be looking at the school year," Gage said.

"To be a good teacher, you need time. Time to prepare for the instruction that you've got to deliver," she said. "And I'm just not sure that the way things are set up now that our teachers have enough time."

An image of Christy Kelly, a kindergarten teacher at Cordley School, is multiplied in a prism as Kelly works with her students on exploring the five senses during a morning kindergarten class. Heavy work loads, little time to plan and little time to collaborate with other teachers are concerns for teachers. Recently compiled results from the Kansas Teacher Working Conditions Survey show that 61 percent of Lawrence's teachers don't think teachers have enough noninstructional time to do their jobs.

An image of Christy Kelly, a kindergarten teacher at Cordley School, is multiplied in a prism as Kelly works with her students on exploring the five senses during a morning kindergarten class. Heavy work loads, little time to plan and little time to collaborate with other teachers are concerns for teachers. Recently compiled results from the Kansas Teacher Working Conditions Survey show that 61 percent of Lawrence's teachers don't think teachers have enough noninstructional time to do their jobs.

Teachers also need time to talk to other teachers to find out if there are better ways to get the material across to students, she said.

"Teachers hardly have time to think, let alone do planning or do collaborating," Gage said. "I don't know if it's heavy workload or if it's just a function of time. You have to plan for every day. No teacher has a class that is so unified that they don't have to make adaptations to their lesson."

Many people think teaching is going to school at 8 a.m. and leaving at 3 p.m. each day, she said. But teachers have many demands put on them in and out of the classroom.

"They take papers home to grade; they are expected to participate in all of the activities of a school, and it just ends up to be an all-consuming life," she said.

Gage said that stress is leading some teachers to "burn out" and to leave the profession. She said she recently heard there was a National Board Certified Teacher in Kansas who recently decided to walk away from it all.

Still loving it

Christy Kelly, a kindergarten teacher at Cordley School, puts in about six to seven extra hours a week.

She teaches 47 children, which means 47 parent conferences and progress reports.

"At times it can be very time-consuming," Kelly said.

Also, the kindergarten teacher is taking classes to become certified as an English as a Second Language teacher because Cordley is the second school in the district providing services to non-English speaking students.

"It's one class a semester for three years," she said. "We also have homework."

Kelly, who has been a teacher at the school for 10 years, said she understands how all the extra time could burn out some teachers.

"It hasn't burned me out," Kelly said. "I still love it, even with the extra time, I think. It's a great job."

Comments

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

It has been identified that there is a problem which is not good for the district or for those who might be considering locating to Lawrence. Is it local leadership? Is it the state legislators? Is it No Child Left Behind? Is it all three?

armyguy 8 years ago

10 extra hours a week puts teachers at about a 40 hour work week, not bad for an 8 month a year job.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

It might go something like this?

7 AM - 5 PM 5 days a week = 50 hours grading papers at home = 10 hours ------------ 60 Hours PT conferences plus other unwritten demands = 20 Hours

Dealing with other parents children = uncompensated but expected

Teaching improvement or required upgrading during summer months paid for out of pocket = uncompensated

grubesteak 8 years ago

Merrill, thank you for pointing this out. Married to a teacher, I see this every day.

Stephen Roberts 8 years ago

I am disappointed about this article. What do the teachers do on Wednesday afternoon when the kids leave early?

Unless you work a line job, a lot of people work more than 40 hours a week for 10-12 months. It is easy to complian about more time but do they realize it will costs the district more money?

I personally know they teachers get 40 minutes of planning time a day. The problem I am aware of is the special education teachers normally do not get that time.

So, LJW you did you survey? Where 98% of them special education teacher?

As much as I do not like the admin, at least I know they are in the building from 8-5. Maybe the teachers should extend their work day in the school building.

As for the networking or collaborating time, I do a lot of this "outside " of my normal work day because I know it will make me more profitable to my employer or a new employer.

WilburM 8 years ago

Merrill and loudmouth realist are dead on. Any teacher rally doing his or her job is putting in 10 hours + a day, more on weekends, and even after some salary improvement, doesn't get the finacial return that is offered in many other countries.

If teaching were so easy, why would so many folks leave the profession? Some of this is about prep time, but a lot is about the incredible number of demands that teachers must address every day, many of which keep them from teaching, advising, and continunig to learn (a crucial part of the job).

Stephen Roberts 8 years ago

Loudmouthrealist-

Ok, so your wife wants more planning time great, how are we going to pay for it? That is the boards problem. What is she and the union willing to give up in return? How about tenure? Please let me know.

I am not a teacher but my kids have had two good teachers and three bad teachers since being in the district. The admin is afraid to get rid of bad teachers because they are scared they will be sued by the UNION.

As for teachers being told by the admin what they are doing wrong, I persoanlly know a person who works in the special ed department and spends probally a a whole month fixing the blatant mistakes teachers are tooi lazy to fix or don't want to fix because it is TOO HARD.

I am not being mean but they need to give up something in return to get something.

I would like to see teachers get paid more but paying for it is the question.

Stephen Roberts 8 years ago

loudmouth- Good points but when over 1/2 of the kansas State budget goes to education, i think there is a problem. It is always easy to say reduce taxes but how about reduce spending? How much do we spend on sports? Dies anyone have a clue?

As for the tenured comment, it may not be called tenured but they are protected after a certain amount of years, five maybe.

I think the good teachers are underpaid and overworked and the bad teachers are overpaid and underworked but it is purely objective. Every one told me my sons third grade teachers was great but I couldn't see it. She complain that he wasn't living up to his poetntial in reading and writing but was bored in math class. She could have challenged him in math but she chose to dwell on what he wasn't enjoying. Thank god is fouth grade teacher challenged him in math and alswayts worked with him in the reading.

costello 8 years ago

Dambudzo:

Kids are pretty disrespectful these days. I don't know how old you are, but it's sure a different world than when I was a kid.

My son is a 15-year-old special ed student in the public schools. I adopted him from foster care a couple of years ago, and he has behavior problems. I've got to know his resource room teacher. She tells me she's called rude and filthy names by kids all the time.

Also her paperwork load is overwhelming. She's a good and caring teacher. She's spent up to an hour and a half speaking with me on the phone at night.

It's hard work, what she does. I couldn't and wouldn't do it. There has to be some kind of solution for this problem, or we'll continue to lose good teachers.

prioress 8 years ago

Teachers, police, firemen/women--all are 'underpaid' and overworked. When one works for the public, and gets tax money for a salary, this is the price we pay for public service. Get used to it and don't whine too much. It's unseemly.

roger_o_thornhill 8 years ago

The discussion here reminds me of the "blame the victim" mentality some employ in the face of rape. "She was asking for it with that outfit..."--bullshik! "It's the lazy wantin' ever'thin' no good teachers problem--man if only I had life so easy as a teacher!"--More bullshik! It is like some of you are still in school. I mean, I'm willing to acknowledge right here that each and every one of you has the hardest, most thankless job ever (even though that isn't possible), but teachers don't have it good by any means. Maybe if they could entertain as well as teach, I mean who else makes more in a day than a teacher makes in a year? And if you play a sport, you have the off-season? Man these are the folks who really have it easy! $70,000-$100,000 a game! Season only lasts part of the year!

Eric Neuteboom 8 years ago

I'm so glad so many people wrote in to explain what a teacher's day is like. I'm going to be marrying a teacher soon, and their days are unlike anything else. So many jobs you can "leave at the door" but not teaching.

All teachers are to be commended for their service to the community.

And to think, we sit here squabbling about time and money when enough money and manpower is being wasted overseas. Bring the soldiers and the money supporting them home. Let's use it for something more.

[steps down off soapbox]

common_cents 8 years ago

Just so everyone is straight on the budget, Kansas spends about 75% more in real dollars on the education budget than it did in (that not to long ago time of) 1972.

And, there has been about a 5% change in student population. The budget has skyrocketed, student populations have hardly moved, schools and districts have been consolidated (to save money) and scores have gone down considerably.

I blame that on administrative costs.

(For those of you who don't know what "real dollars" means - it is an amount adjusted for inflation so as to create a constant price over time.)

Baille 8 years ago

Well we can debate whether there really is a problem or not, but that won't change the reality of the situation. A sizable number of our teachers don't like teaching. Anecdotally, the satisfaction with the job seems to have dropped dramatically in the past 10-15 years. Many of the reasons for this seem to be universally shared by the dissatisfied teachers.

So as a community we can argue about whether their perspectives, experiences, and opinions are legitimate and watch as our educational system begins to suffer from the loss of good, experienced teachers - or we can endeavor to understand what is going on and take steps to make things better.

Packman 8 years ago

I have a couple comments - first, most teachers - the good and dedicated ones, anyway, use their summers to take the needed classes to stay on top of things. Some of these continuing ed classes are required to stay certified. When I taught over 15 years ago, we were required to work toward a Masters degree, meaning each summer we took several credits toward this. So, summer isn't all fun and games for teachers.

Second good teachers have lots of options in life. Some become administrators, others leave the profession for higher paying, lower stress jobs. So summer vacations or not, the teachers we often lose are the good ones - the ones who have other options.

Some of you may envy the hours of a teacher, but I would bet much of what I own that after a month or less of walking in their shoes and cashing their often mediocre paychecks, and seeing the lack of respect they get from many parents and students, you'd find whatever else it is you do better worth it. Teachers rarely have the luxury of NOT taking their work home with them - be it grading or phone calls from parents (rational and irrational ones). Ask yourself if you have that luxury...would you trade it if you do?

Teachers to deserve our thanks. They also deserve more support so they can do their jobs.

kmat 8 years ago

For all the complete morons that want to get on here and rant about how teachers are spoiled and poor you works all these hours and doesn't get summers off - THEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING WASTING YOUR TIME ON THIS WEBSITE???? GET TO WORK!

I was a teacher. I left it to go make better money. Plain and simple. I could have stayed teaching, working my ass to the bone or could get a "regular" job like the rest of you and get a raise each year, stick to a somewhat normal schedule, etc... I have weeks now where I put in a good 50-60 hours, but I get compensated for it. I take comp time, etc.. Teachers don't get squat. I get a big raise each year and bonuses for my extra efforts, teachers don't get squat. I leave work and go home to relax, teachers go home and plan lessons, grade papers, call parents about their problems children, etc... We regular workers go home and walk the dog and watch tv.

What do teachers do in the summer? To start, you don't get 3 months off. You get about 6-7 weeks. The day kids get out of school doesn't mean the teachers are done. Once we finally get those 6-7 weeks off, WE GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! If you want to make more money, you have to keep going back to school, working on your masters or PhD. How many of you whiners on here spend your time off back in class???

I can barely type I am so pissed about the negative comments towards teachers on here. Why don't you pissed off parents that think you have it so bad try to teach your own kids for a change? I can say from being in the public school system for a long time that one of the biggest problems we encounter are parents. Parents that don't focus on their kids enough and leave it all up to the schools. Start doing your jobs as parents and the teachers jobs will be easier.

All I had to do was read the comments from all these retards making the teachers out to be the problem to remind myself of why I no longer teach. I miss the kids dearly (I was a spec ed teacher and got to work with all the behavior challenged kids - many of which just had bad parents that didn't teach them right from wrong), but I do not miss you parents in the least bit.

And you people want to whine about the tax dollars spent on education???? You have no clue how much money teachers spend out of their own pockets because the disticts don't have enough money. I spent so much money I needed to pay my bills so my kids would have everything they needed. Those of you that don't believe this need to sit down with your kids teachers and discuss it. I think you'd be quite shocked at what teachers really have to do to insure that their kids have what they need to learn.

I feel for all the teachers out there still trying to make a difference.

costello 8 years ago

common_cents: The world has changed since 1972. And public education is a far more complex world than it was.

The area I'm familiar with is the impact of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Children with disabilities must be mainstreamed now. That includes children with behavior problems like my son. My understanding is that the IDEA was extended to cover children like my son in 1997. That's only 10 years ago. Before that time, kids like my son were educated in other settings.

My son is a very challenging child to work with, and his resource room teacher tells me he isn't the hardest child she has. It addition to the difficulty and stress of dealing with my child, who BTW spends most of his day in regular ed classes where the regular ed teachers have to deal with him too, there are reams of paperwork involved. And the paperwork takes the teacher's time and attention away from education.

In theory, my son is being helped by being mainstreamed. They tell me he's supposed to be learning better social skills by observing "normal" children and modelling his behavior after them. Apparently when problem children are isolated with other problem children, they just learn more bad behaviors.

Ultimately the whole society is supposed to benefit because kids like my son will be more likely to grow up as productive citizens. Maybe it'll work out that way. I don't know, and no one gave me or my son a choice in the matter. Personally I'd rather he be in a setting where he can be more closely supervised and less likely to get into trouble. But if we're going to hand these kinds of problems over to the schools to "solve," we should give them the cash and support they need to do the job successfully.

I wonder how many of the people here bashing teachers have visited a school recently. I've been to my son's school on a number of occasions, and it's nothing like the schools of my childhood in the 60's and 70's.

It isn't 1972 anymore.

jhawk0097 8 years ago

Anyone remember an LJW article a little while back that said teachers are bing recruited from the Philippines to cover the teaching shortage expected in Junction City?

JFK, that's f***ed up. Same goes for the nurses we're importing from sub-saharan Africa.

Teachers get no respect. My mom taught SE for over 25 years and just recently called it quits. She worked from 7-8 or 9 every week day and did quite a bit on weekends as well. Summers she took classes and prepared for the next year. Like a poster said earlier, if it's so freakin' great, why the high turnover? Just a bunch of lazybones I suppose.

mick 8 years ago

1.They want full-time pay for a part-time job. 2. They have been in school their entire lives so what comparison do they have? 3. If it is such an awful job, why are there eleven applicants for every opening?

Godot 8 years ago

Would be interesting to hear from some private school teachers about their work load, hours, job satisfaction.

Baille 8 years ago

  1. Part-time job? The teachers I know work far more than 40 hours a week and their "summer off" consists of taking classes and courses for which they have to pay.

  2. Unsupportable comment. Again, many of the teachers I know have worked in other jobs prior to teaching or are former teachers who now work in teh privaate sector. I find it significant that even with knowing about working in the private sector their dissatisfcation with the teaching professions remains unchanged.

  3. Again - we can debate whether the complaints and experiences of the teachers who are complaining are valid, but what happens if we conclude they are not valid? Then we establish that the teachers' experiences and perspectives are illegitimate, but that won't change the fact we are running out of good, motivated, and experienced teachers.

Why are there 11 applicants for every opening? I don't know if there are or not, but assuming there are multiple applicants for most advertised teacing positions, how many applicants are first-timers?

mom_of_three 8 years ago

I am not going to get in the middle of this mess, with all the childish name-calling. But... when my kids were in elementary school, and their day started at 7:50, their teachers were not in school at 7:00 am. They dismissed at 2:50, and if my kids needed help, the teachers were usually there till 4:00, sometimes 4:30. There were a few exceptions to this, and I know teachers grade at home, etc. It's a given with the job, but don't make it a general rule about the 7:00 starting time.

mom_of_three 8 years ago

FYI - in case you don't remember - the early Wednesday dismisal in Lawrence was for collaboration time.

Morganna 8 years ago

I'm a little confused. What happens on Wednesdays when most parents in Lawrence have to find daycare because their children do not go to school a full day? I thought that the Wednesday short school day for students was for the teachers? Did I misunderstand? Teaching is a chosen profession. If you don't like the way the shoe fits don't wear it!!!!!!!!!

costello 8 years ago

Hi Morganna: A lot of teachers do decide they don't like the way the shoe fits and quit wearing it. I wonder if that's what's best for our children.

Jama Crady Maxfield 8 years ago

Bowhunter.... Winter break is no where NEAR three weeks long, nor is the summer break three entire months. While it is a longer period of time than most businesses have off, there is nothing like "paid vacatioin" in the teaching world. Not to mention the fact that most teachers work during those "breaks" or take additional classes that are constantly required by the state. Therefore, 12-16 weeks of break/vacation is a moot point. It simply isn't true.

Baille 8 years ago

"If you don't like the way the shoe fits don't wear it!"

And that's the problem, Morganna. There seems to be growing dissatisfaction with the profession leading many to change their "shoes." There are those inour community who are concerned as this may well translate into a loss of motivated and experienced teachers. Rather than watch the quality of our educational system decline and our community suffer for it, these same people are seeking to figure out why so many teachers are unhappy so that we may proactively address the issue.

It would seem to a more productive use of our time to make the shoes more comfortable for those who already know how to walk in them rather than go around looking for someone else who is willing to wear uncomfortable shoes.

And with that I think the shoe analogy has been thoroughly beaten into the ground. :)

Rationalanimal 8 years ago

If we want the best, we should adjust the pay to reflect the best. Unfortunately, some very good teachers end up leaving teaching b/c the pay stinks. Who wants to babysit middle school kids for 35k a year when more can be made in the private market. The solution to our current system is to up the pay to attract and retain excellent teachers, weed out the mediocre teachers, and hold teachers accountable as they would be in a well run private company. Performance expectation from teachers will have a positive net affect on the performance of kids.

Last, parents need to shed the mindset that school is free day care. Maybe a few moms or dads from two parent working families need to adjust their employment so they can have a broader influence of their kid's education. The expectation that a school teacher is solely responsible for a kid's educational success is a sure recipe for academic failure--even amongst the best teachers.

salad 8 years ago

Teaching is great. Actually, teaching kids who are interested in learning is great. It's the system and the teaching profession that's effed up. I left the profession after 12 years, because the teaching profession holds no value for people who are good in science, math, and foreign language. I miss the few kids who were psyched about what I taught, but the majority of society HATES math and science and that was just no fun at all to feel like I had to make them learn. I mean what job besides prison guard do you constantly have to coerce people into doing things they don't want to do? So it is for the high school teacher. I feel bad for my former collegues, but no one is putting a gun to your head making you teach. Quit and do something else if it sucks so bad. It's a free country right? BTW, as an engineer, I make double my former teaching salary : )

costello 8 years ago

Oh, Dambudzo, that's unfair. Why would you even say such a thing? Why would you stigmatize the whole profession for the actions of a few bad apples? For shame!

Jama Crady Maxfield 8 years ago

Morganna.... I didn't realize that teaching was code for "babysitting". You're the parent, figure out where your child is supposed to go on Wednesday afternoons. The public schools are there to better your child's education, NOT provide free afterschool daycare.

Kathy Gates 8 years ago

Treat teachers like a professional and expect them to work 8-5? Sure--figure out a way to give them an hour off for lunch, bathroom breaks when necessary, and paid vacations. Not gonna happen! In the private sector you can send back the broken products you get to work with. In the private sector you get paid for holidays off. In the private sector you get an hour for lunch to attend to your needs. Need a staff meeting in the private sector? Call one--because you don't have to worry about who will supervise the widgets you produce, unlike in a school. You can't compare teaching to the private sector.

conservative 8 years ago

Ok,

You missed her point. The teachers are already given every wednesday to do exactly what they are complaining they don't get to do.

Mr Ramirez, by the time you've been posting as long as I have you'll be at 1200 posts and I'm below 500 right now. Guess somehow that makes me better qualified to give my opinions on this article in your mind.

Bottom line is that teaching is a salaried position and those almost always entail more than 40 hours. Not saying that in some instances teachers may be feeling overworked, but then again so are most people. However most people aren't given the option of taking a few classes to get automatic raises, and are given progress reviews that actually take into account how they performed over the previous year.

Jama Crady Maxfield 8 years ago

No, I understood her point. But it's not possible to get everything done (as a staff) in that time period. And, the point she made didn't back up what she was trying to say. School isn't daycare but that is unfortunately what some parents choose to believe. That may be one reason that teachers don't get the respect they deserve. A point being reinforced over and over again on this post.

prioress 8 years ago

smgkag: Treat teachers like a professional and expect them to work 8-5? Sure--figure out a way to give them an hour off for lunch, bathroom breaks when necessary, and paid vacations. Not gonna happen! In the private sector you can send back the broken products you get to work with. In the private sector you get paid for holidays off. In the private sector you get an hour for lunch to attend to your needs. Need a staff meeting in the private sector? Call one--because you don't have to worry about who will supervise the widgets you produce, unlike in a school. You can't compare teaching to the private sector.

Now, with this, I fully agree, every word. Schools have much to improve on, but they do marvelous things every day with millions of children. Comparing them to a business is pointless and foolish. Schools' two biggest problems.......the daily clock and the annual calendar. When both of these are gone someday, we'll know we are making real progress.

windex 8 years ago

conservative, you say, "most people aren't given the option of taking a few classes to get automatic raises, and are given progress reviews that actually take into account how they performed over the previous year."

Teachers have annual reviews of their performance, just like everyone else. The difference is that even if your review says you walk on water, it doesn't increase your pay, and ignorant members of the public will continue to make asinine pronouncements about your profession.

It is impossible to do an acceptable job as a public school teacher in 40 hours a week. People come in to the profession thinking that surely such statements are exaggerated, but they soon learn otherwise.

Teachers may not use the Wednesday collaboration to plan, get ready for the next day, catch up on emails, make copies, etc, etc. It is used for collaborative meetings with other teachers. It's valuable, but it's not plan time. And very often your to-do list is longer at the end of collaboration than it was at the beginning.

I'm a "good" teacher. In the past 9 weeks, I have spent nearly $1,000 of my own money on my job, and I have worked like a dog. My students and their parents like me and my reviews are good. But my spouse is very unhappy that so many of our family's resources are going to other people's children rather than our own and I really wonder how long we can go on like this.

concernedparent 8 years ago

I can't believe people will sit here and bash teachers. If all those teachers left, who's going to teach your kids? If you think the teachers are doing such a bad job with your kids, why don't you stay home and homeschool your children? You're so smart, you teach your child everything they need to know in life. And see how easy it is. I for one appriciate all teachers. The pay is crappy, you deal with a bunch of children that aren't yours, and you try to help out our future. To all the teachers that will read this, thank you.

concernedparent 8 years ago

Please enlighten us Dambudzo and tell us what you do for a living that is so important to us. And are you male or female? So why don't you do a google search and type in men molesting children, or women molesting children (whichever you are) and see what you find out. That was a very stereotypical comment from you that really was relavent to nothing.

Godot 8 years ago

Windex, what did you get for your $1,000?

Baille 8 years ago

"Bottom line is that teaching is a salaried position and those almost always entail more than 40 hours."

So what? Dept of Labor came down with a decision a few years back that made it so salaried employees could obtain or were entitled to overtime in certain circumstances. Just being salaried does not mean what it used to mean.

In any event, what if teachers, by contract or by other means, were expected to work 50-60 hours for their current salary? What if all those here are right? Teachers do get some amount of time off each year. They do get paid for their time. They do have time to plan on Wednesday. They are also telling us that they - as a group - aren't happy.

They can leave. That's true. We can continue to see high turnover in the education system and we can watch the rate get faster and faster. But I would argue that is a bad idea. This isn't just one teacher here and there who is unhappy with his/her career choice. the data seems to indicate we have a whole lot of teachers a whole lot unhappy with a whole lot of what's going on. We don't want a whole lot of unhappyt because we don't want a roll-over of all new teachers every couple of years. We are better served with stability in the profession by mixing new ideas from young, motivated teachers with the tempered experience of veterans.

Rather than argue about whether this or that is unfair or valid, we would be better served by figuring out why so many teachers are unhappy and seeing if there is a way to improve the situation.

windex 8 years ago

Answer to Godot's question: materials, supplies, books - about $135. The rest went for professional development (not a college class which would move me up my district's salary schedule; just a conference which will help me do what I do better) and the dues to the professional organization which put on the conference, since you can't attend unless you're a member of the organization.

I really love teaching kids. But it's hard to put so much into it and be criticized by people who have absolutely no idea what they're talking about.

riverrat2 8 years ago

Dambudzo, you like starting fires don't you? Did you play with matches a lot when you were little?

costello 8 years ago

Hi Dambudzo: I'm not sure if you're implying that I'm a teacher. I'm not. Actually it looks like very few teachers have posted to this thread so far. Maybe they're busy teaching?

bevy 8 years ago

I am the daughter, niece, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of teachers. They taught at every level from kindergarten through college. First of all, SHAME on those of you who are obviously ignorant of how a teacher's day goes.

As a teacher and a coach in small rural schools, my father taught 6-7 different courses each day. Each one required it's own planning. Then he stayed after school for athletic practices 2-3 hours, traveling to away games and going to home games until 9-10 p.m. several nights a week. He was also a class sponsor, helped kids work at their fund-raising events, and found time to spend extra time with kids who were struggling - even if they were struggling with personal rather than academic issues.

In the summers he took courses to maintain his certification, taught driver ed, and coached the local American Legion baseball team. All the while building our house with his own two hands, because it was cheaper.

He did that for 28 years, and NEVER made more than 30K, even with a master's degree. (Think about this one, too, if you're comparing corporate life with teaching. Most businesses offer tuition reimbursement for employees who further their education. Schools do not, but continuing ed is required if you want to keep your certificate.)

He did it because he loved to do it. Until No Child Left Behind came along, and the reams and reams of paperwork sucked all the joy out of his day, as well as a LOT of the time he would have preferred to spend working with kids. Dad retired early when he could have worked another 10 years, because of many of the issues raised above.

There will always be substandard employees in any type of job. But most of the teachers I have known are hard working, caring people who are making the best of a difficult situation.

Porter 8 years ago

Wow, Tweakin. I hate to get in the middle of a feud you have with another poster, but I can't help it.

If you're going to criticize teachers, the NEA, and public schools, then I STRONGLY suggest that you start using spellcheck. Your arguments concerning the education system (and the apparent lack of monkeys teaching class) won't be given much attention when you write and spell like a 2nd grade student.

Why would you want a monkey teaching kids anyway?

Baille 8 years ago

Nice post, Bevy. Best on the board today.

sinkorswim 8 years ago

I just waded through the comments concerning the teacher survey article. About all I can say is "Wow!" There are some interesting posts here! Thank goodness for the posts that are supportive of teachers. As for the others, you just don't get it.

I am a teacher. Sorry I wasn't able to post sooner, but I was busy at school and just got home a few minutes ago (about 6:00pm). For those who wonder, I arrived at work about 7:15am today. I hope I put in enough hours to qualify as a full-days work! I would hate for anyone to think I was being lazy or not doing my "cushy/work 9 months a year-vacation all summer" job justice!

I'd love to post more, but you'll excuse me while I fix dinner, help my kids with their homework, switch the laundry, grade papers, create a formative assessment, try to contact a parent of an AWOL student, and try to squeeze in a conversation with my husband before I fall into bed.

Be back later....if there's time. Oh yeah, I also need to start contemplating what second job I can work this summer that won't conflict with a class I need to take (which allows me stay certified). It'll be awesome if I make enough $$ at my summer job to pay for this class and the necessary books!

Harry_Manback 8 years ago

I also come from a family of teachers. My mom, aunt and grandpa were/are teachers. Just to put things in perspective - I will be graduating in May with a degree from KU. My anticipated starting salary will be higher than my mom's, who has been teaching for 15 years and just slightly less than my aunt's, who has been in education for 30 years and has a master's degree. That says a lot when someone who's been in the profession for years and has an advanced degree makes less money or about the same amount as a 22 year old recent grad in the private sector. And, these are the people who are responsible for educating the next doctors, lawyers, etc.

If it weren't for my father, my mother would've had difficulty supporting my brother and I growing up. I know construction workers and tile layers who make more than she does!

It irritates the hell out of me when I hear people coming down on teachers saying "but, they only work eight months a year" or "they get to leave work at 2 or 3 p.m." I know it's already been said, but these teachers spend their summers in classes staying certified, and all but the laziest of teachers spend time at home grading papers, making lesson plans, etc. In fact, many teachers are forced to work side jobs in retail, restaurants, as lifeguards, etc. after school or in the summer.

Anyone who has attended public school has had bad teachers. Perhaps if these teachers were paid a little more and given a bit more respect, the standards of quality would improve as well.

Harry_Manback 8 years ago

Oh yeah, and it doesn't help when the NEA says you can't stay more than an hour or something ridiculous like that after school because its on strike. I don't completely understand it myself, but I don't think a lot of people understand what No Child Left Behind and strikes like this do to teachers and the schools.

Beth Bird 8 years ago

I normally do not reply to these but I feel that I must.

Spring break, Christmas break, and summer break are not time off. Teachers are expected to take classes to keep on the latest theories and instructional techniques to keep at the top of their game.

Teachers do not really have June, July, and August off. Most teachers are required to report by the 8th of August and do not end the year until the first or second week of June. While there is time off during the summer, this is spent preparing for the upcoming year and completing the required amount of continuing education hours.

I resent the statements made about the NEA. I do not think you should critisize something you know so little about. I am not going to begin a discussion on politics but you really need to research what you are saying before you make a fool of yourself.

The LJW did not conduct this survey. This was completed by KNEA who represents the teachers in the State of Kansas. This survey is done to compare what teachers and administrators think on the same issues. It helps everyone get a better persepective and make different arrangements if necessary.

To become a teacher, there is a variety of tests you must passand skills you exhibit. You must pass a test to get admitted into the Education program. You must pass a test on content knowledge, how to teach specific content, and how to place pedigogical theories into play. Teachers must complete practicum hours (clinicals if that is more familiar to you) and student teach for a miniumum of one semester, if not two, for no pay. You must be able to identify studnets who might need special education. You must be on the look out for child abuse. You need to make sure that your students have the supplies to complete their tasks, not to mention to make sure that they had breakfast that morning. I could go on but I think my point has been made.

Please think about the statements you make. These teachers whom you feel so inclined to bash educate your children, nieces, nephews, and neighbors every day.

windex 8 years ago

Harry, what the heck are you talking about? Staying an hour after school, strikes, what?? In Kansas it's illegal to strike, and the "duty day" is negotiated by the local union and the school district. Trust me, you can stay hours and hours and hours after the duty day is over. I just did.

And to those of you who think that trained monkeys can educate your kid: it's not a factory line. The kids aren't little tubs waiting to be filled with knowledge. It's all interactive. You have to motivate and inspire them, lead them to discuss, argue, hypothesize, investigate and practice, let them fail, let them succeed, let them question. You have to know what to do when they throw up all over their shoes, sob uncontrollably when mommy drops them off, threaten suicide, lie to you, come to school dressed like a hooker, go for days refusing to speak, smoke pot in the rest room, cry when you ask how are you today, call another student a reprehensible name, fail and fail and fail and fail to grasp a critical concept (and NO canned, scripted curriculum successfully reaches every single child, no matter what you think), chronically show up late, slyly taunt a shy child daily at recess, draw gang symbols on their English paper, tell you that their parents abuse them, fall asleep every day in class, tell you "I can't" in response to each and every direction or request, never ever turn in any homework. And remember: If they fail, it's your fault. How is the most brilliant curriculum going to help you when you're out driving at dusk and you see one of your third graders trudging along a busy highway alone? How are you going to form an effective partnership with a kid's parents when they can't even be bothered to show up at the end of the school day to pick their kid up and you get stuck waiting for an hour with him? Pray tell how trained monkeys would deal with all this?

And if your answer is that these situations should be deferred to administrators, mental health workers, counselors and nurses, I will remind you that next thing you know, you'll be decrying the wastefulness of the system and lamenting the monies being spent "outside of the classroom."

Beth Bird 8 years ago

There is no need to be so rude and attack people personally. Act like a mature adult. If you have a valid point to make, make it. Otherwise, take your comments somewhere else!

mimiv 7 years, 5 months ago

I have read over a large amount of the comments posted on this blog and am utterly amazed at how disillusioned some people seem to be about what teachers actually do. I am a high school teacher who puts my heart and soul into my job because I care about the students and because I want to be a "good teacher", that means by my school's and my own standards. Yes, teaching is quite different than it was years ago. You deal with multitudes of problems that some, who only focus on "summers off", have absolutely no clue about. While we're on that "summers off" topic, let me inform you that I work a regular work day every day during the summer compiling my materials for the following school year, planning out my school calendar, creating parent welcome letters, buying materials, setting up my classroom, creating a filing system, reading books and materials that are included in the curriculum or books that are simply of interest to my students (so that I can be "up" on what they're reading), etc. My summers are by no means vacations and are instead valuable planning periods that unfortunately are not part of a school year. You see there is only so much time a school can give you during the day to properly plan. That prep period cannot possibly provide needed time to correct 135 tests (essay and papers included), check subjective projects, make calls home to parents, read and respond to emails from administration, faculty, or parents, adapt tests for students who need it, print off copies for tomorrow's lesson, plan what you will do next week, attend to absent students or students who need to take a test before or after school because they've been out sick. I could go on, but this gives you an idea. I am thankful for my job and love what I do; however, when I read the typical "Teachers have it easy. They have summers off." argument, I needed to voice my opinion and my knowedge on the subject to let those people know that it is one of the most time-consuming professions out there. Yes, it has its rewards, but it is still a never-ending job. I hope this helps shed some much needed light on what teachers really do from the mouth of a teacher.

thekjoy1 6 years, 1 month ago

I am a fifth grade teacher in Massachusetts. I absolutely love my job, but I have to let you know that I put in more hours than you can even imagine! I leave home by 7:30, work all day, teach MCAS prep courses after school to help me pay the bills, and then I stay at school to plan, grade papers, contact parents, create standards-based activities, and talk to colleagues. I usually leave school by 6 p.m. THEN I most often bring work home. I work for at least 8 hours every weekend (and it is usually more like 15). Oh, and during the summer, I am busy taking all of the courses teachers need to take to stay certified. Teaching is an absolutely demanding job, and that is not going to change. The expectations have multiplied and so has the amount of material that needs to be covered in any given day. And if you're thinking I am the exception, talk to any teacher in the state of Massachusetts. Or anywhere, for that matter. We love what we do, but it is more time, energy, skill, and dedication than what you can even imagine.

mcdonaldamy 4 years ago

No teacher works a 30 hour week. Even if there are 6 hour school days (which I've never heard of btw), the scheduled work days are still 8 hours. So now you are at 40 hour week just like everybody else.

I am at a charter school, not supported by a union. These are becoming very popular. I work a 45 hour contracted work week. with 25 minute lunch breaks and two preps per week (45 minutes each) to do all of those "extra" jobs which are actually mandatory jobs for a teacher.

Also, the summers off thing? When you think of how little a teacher makes for the amount of education they have, it is not even close to other professions that require degrees. My sister has been at her job for 5 years and is making 64,000/year. I will not be at that pay scale for 13 more years unless I get a masters (then 9 years). We have the same degree level.

You think teachers have it so easy? Think about your own little job perks.

Need a day off? Take it and relax. Teachers: have fun donating 3 hours of your day preparing for a sub. Want to take a long lunch? No problem! Teachers: Can't. You class needs you in the lunch room in 20 minutes! Need to make a personal phone call? Just step away for a few. Teachers: Not if you want 34 kids knowing your business Want to run to the bathroom? Of course! That's your right! Teachers: HOLD IT IN! We have the highest rate of urinary tract infections of any profession.

People...there are gives and takes. Teachers give a lot. Unions support them.

Support teachers. Support unions.

One last thing for the confused: Tenure does not mean you cannot get fired. It means if all else is equal you have job priority. There is a simple 4 step process to fire a tenured teacher. It happens all the time. So give that one a rest please. Fight for job security. So many are already loosing it in this country.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.