A recent collaboration between an Australian teacher registration authority, a university and an employee organisation has found alarming levels of teachers working at night and at weekends to keep up with the demands of the job.
The report, commissioned by the Queensland College of Teachers with data gathered in late 2015, highlights a worrying trend in education on teacher work life balance.
The study included participation by Catholic teachers.
The only surprise in the report is the low modality the authors use when summarising the key findings of workload management.
With almost all teachers reporting that they always have to work late at night or at weekends is something to be concerned about on a personal level, but it gives us an opportunity to do some reflection and figure out how we can alleviate this unhealthy practice.
On work life balance, one survey participant remarked…
Whilst in the area of workload…
Many of you will be nodding your head in agreement no doubt, for we all know this already.
It may alarm you to note that the average tenure of respondents was 19 years of service. So these are not responses from rookie teachers straight out of teacher college.
Employers should be worried that job satisfaction scored a mediocre 4.1 from 7. Responses ranged from 1 (extremely dissatisfied) to 7 (extremely satisfied). Higher scores indicate greater overall job satisfaction.
The report concluded by giving four recommendations.
#1. Improving work-life balance
#2. Increasing support for use of technology at work
#3. Improving how teachers experience multiple role demands.
#4. Improving supervisor support.
It’s only my opinion, but these are not particularly inspiring recommendations.
In fact I would say that recommendations #1 and #3 are depressingly contradictory: learn to deal with all the roles you have to fulfil, and by the way, why don’t you take more time off? Hmmm..
Without coming across as too negative, I can assure you all, that for the foreseeable future, the education system that you are working in will not provide anything substantial to deal with these issues.
No amount of complaining or lobbying the principal is going to give you a better work life balance, help you with technology, juggle the ten roles you play at school or give you a support person to manage the day.
So what can we do about it?
In my opinion a lot. The reality is, you can really only control you.
In August, I published a three part series on avoiding teacher stress. I would argue that every one one of those 35 tips I listed, can be implemented without any particular call for more resources from your school administrator.
When you start to implement these things in your practice, you win more time for yourself, you become much more organised and you have a more positive experience in your work.
Why not give yourself a challenge? Choose one or two tips and try them out for a week.