Teacher Workload

ATA President Responds to Teacher Workload Study

ATA president Mark Ramsankar is welcoming the results from an independent study on teacher workload that shows teachers in Alberta work an average of 48 hours a week during regular school weeks. The study also found that the average Alberta teacher puts in nearly two full weeks of work during the summer months, bringing their annual total to 2016 hours.

“This is very rich data that provides us with a deeper understanding of how teachers approach their practice and the varied expectations which occupy the time of teachers,” said Ramsankar. “The data raises important questions and concerns about the extent to which teachers are being distracted from their core instructional work with students.”

The report also shows that only half of teachers’ professional time is dedicated to working directly with students and that their work-related performance and stress is impacted by an average of one hour per day of micro-tasks (e-mail, phone calls, etc) that are performed during the progress of other activities.

“We need to address the conditions of practice for teachers and enable them to focus on their important work in the classroom, so this information will become part of the ongoing conversations that we have with government and school boards,” said Ramsankar.

The results of this study are consistent with other studies that examine teachers’ practice in Alberta. For example, an international study on teaching and learning completed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2013 also found that Alberta teachers worked for 48 hours in a typical week, which, compared to teachers elsewhere in the world, was second only to Japan in duration.

Ramsankar, a junior high vice-principal, noted that the study also contains considerable information about the additional professional time required by administrators and by central office-based teaching staff. Administrators in the study worked an average of 50 hours per week during the school year and an additional 130 hours during the summer months—totalling 2163 hours over the course of the year.

“This study was a huge undertaking and the findings are important,” said Ramsankar. “I want to acknowledge and thank the thousands of teachers who gave their valuable time to participate in this study.”

The study, the largest of its kind, recruited nearly 4,000 teachers and administrators, including 1,600 who completed a time diary tracking their professional activities for one week each month through last school year. It was completed under the terms of the 2013 legislated settlement of teacher collective agreements. The government commissioned R A Malatest and Associates to conduct the independent $500,000 study, which was overseen by a steering committee, including representatives of school boards, the Government of Alberta and the ATA.

Ramsankar says the study should now end doubts about the realities of teacher work, like those expressed previously by the last government and some school boards.

Other studies conducted on teacher workload in Alberta