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Bruno: Do Teachers Exaggerate Hours (Like Everyone Else)?

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics put out amuch-blogged-about report last week finding that most employees overestimate how much they work, I started mentally preparing a post about whether we should think teachers are more or less likely to exaggerate their hours worked.


As it turns out, the BLS already put out a report in 2008 comparing teachers' work weeks to those of other workers using the methods they consider most accurate.

That 2008 report found that teachers work on average about 2 fewer hours per week than other professionals. Notably, this result was based on work weeks only during the school year and included time spent working at home.

This is an old result, but it's news to me and I find it extremely difficult to reconcile with my own experience. The BLS has the average teacher work week coming in at under 39 hours, but I'm not sure that even my easiest weeks during the school year - usually state testing days - come in under 40 hours. And my sense is that my coworkers are typically working at least as hard as I am. (It can't just be that most of my experience is with younger teachers; the BLS finds that older teachers tend to work a bit more.)

Of course, the point of the new BLS report is precisely that most of us tend to overestimate the time we spend working when we're not carefully documenting how we spend our time. And it's true that I only have a little over 23 hours of actual instructional time each week, well short of the 38-39 hours the BLS says is typical for a teacher work week.

And yet I can't help but feel that I - and most teachers - work more than that. I'd be curious to know what you all think. Is the BLS wrong about teachers? Or are teachers as likely as anybody to overestimate how much time they spend working? - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)


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The relevant statistic that occurs to me is that the OECD has shown that American teachers work longer hours than do teachers anywhere else in the developed world -- and yet students don't seem to benefit. Improving efficiency in the use of teacher time is one of the main focuses of One World Secondary School. Our contract calls for twenty 45-minute lesson periods per week for Integrated Science teachers, for example, while our normal school day, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., is not particularly short; so this implies a major increase in time being spent outside of regularly scheduled lessons, typically on matters such as in-service training, planning instruction, pre- and post-class work, and various tasks supporting the school's internal development.

I want to be a sitcom actor. Work 22 minutes per week for a twenty week season and full time pay.

This is Pandiarajan from India, I am having an E Learning Company in Chennai, through my organization, we are offering online English Learning Courses, regarding this i have to meet many school principals and students. I read your article, this is awesome, it gives me lot more points to talk with students. And i have some clear idea about the future improvement.

The way you have defined the Should Students grade teachers is a good think, because the management and parents will know the quality and strengths of Teachers. My English learning program is having options to grade teachers. Parents and management can also check the students and teachers activities through their login.

Thanks for this awesome article, i will keep follow your blog, and i will suggest my staffs to follow you.

If you need any E Learning materials, or Link Exchange, feel free to contact me via mail. I am looking forward from you.
Thank you.

Bruce - I've seen the data that American teachers spend more time in front of class than in other countries, but is there evidence they also work longer hours overall?

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