As we continue to hear about educators leaving the profession, it’s time to have a conversation about teacher workload.
Teaching is one of the professions where planning and preparation consistently bleed into hours beyond the work day. In order to focus time and energy on students during the day, other logistics such as lesson planning, assessment, and administrative minutiae fall outside of the school day.
All of the work that we ask teachers to do is taking a toll. Since I started teaching in the early 2000’s, I’ve noticed the workload on teachers increase. With already full plates, more work has been added, and daily schedules are bursting, filled with more and more activities. With no time during the day, teachers are taking more work home, in addition to more stress and anxiety about not getting the work done.
Some of this comes at a time when society has blurred the lines between work and home. The introduction of smart phones has kept us tethered to our jobs like no other point in history. So, it’s not just education, but for some reason, we are seeing educators leaving the profession in droves.
I’ve encouraged teachers to turn off their notifications, to delete their district email from their phones, to truly shut off when the day ends. The problem is that with the amount of workload, the day often doesn’t end. It’s way too difficult to get everything done that needs to get done.
There’s been more discussion about a four day work week in education. If we don’t first address workload, by going to four days, we would be overloading teachers even more. Now if students had a four day work week, and teachers had the fifth day to accomplish all of the planning, prep, and minutiae, we might be on to something.
I’ve written before about workload for teachers. I’ve advocated for two teachers in every classroom as a solution to many of our problems in education, including decreasing workload, stress, and anxiety. While the benefits outweigh the negatives, I realize the monetary constraints in making such a system work might prove too much.
Whatever the solution, it’s time that we start a critical discussion about teacher workload. We need to address the stress, anxiety, and overwhelming feelings that many of our colleagues are facing each day.