Extended work hours: Teacher’s edition

by Yussi Pick

Over at the Sektion8 blog I wrote another post about the recent discussion regarding the extension of work hours for teachers. It’s in German. After summarizing key thoughts of mine and Jakob’s post, I throw some new thoughts out there, I didn’t have when I wrote the first post.

Key points of my first post:
a) The Austrian teachers union is the root of all evil. Maybe not all but they are for sure one of the main reasons why there was no improvement (or any change) in the school system in the last 20+ years.
b) The discussion, whether or not teachers should work two lessons/week more leads in the wrong direction. The real question is: Why are teachers still allowed to work from home? Forcing them to stay in school in the afternoon would automatically improve the quality of teaching, because:
– even if they do nothing else but drink coffee and talk, this will lead to collaboration teaching, maybe a project or just a reflection of their own work.
– working parents wouldn’t be forced to take the morning off to talk to a teacher, who only has one office hour a week. They could come in the afternoon.
– Teachers wouldn’t need to prepare at their homes, using their computers, internets, printers etc. They also wouldn’t need to carry homework from one place to the other and back.

In another post, Jakob Huber, who wrote a great paper on how schools haven’t changed significantly in the last 80 years, wrote up some facts. He uses data from a study about teachers workload that is usualy used to argue against extension of work hours to show that teachers aren’t burned out by more work. On the contrary, the study shows that what teachers like most about their jobs is to be in class. Now they can be in class two hours longer. I don’t agree with him on everything: I don’t believe that the reduction of class size goes hand in hand with an extension of teacher’s work hours. Its also wrong to think that another two hours is just another two hours in a class. It’s another two hours in ANOTHER class. The though part of being a teacher is the adjustment to a new group of people every 50 minutes. A teacher has probably 5 to 10 different classes/groups of people, all of whom are a different play field. With 2 hours extra to teach, it’s most likely that a teacher will get a new class. I don’t say that’s not manageable, I just think it is to easy to say it’s just two hours more. (I’m aware that I made exactly this cheap argument in my first post).

You have another good reason in mind or an argument that I forgot: Post away!