Malatest results aligned with previous studies into teachers’ hours of work
Alberta Teachers’ Association president Mark Ramsankar welcomed the results of 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.
“This is very rich data that provides us with a deeper understanding of how teachers approach their practice and the varied expectations that occupy teachers’ time,” 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 are impacted by an average of one hour per day of microtasks (email, phone calls, etc.) that are performed during the course 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,” Ramsankar said.
The study, the largest of its kind, recruited nearly 4,000 teachers and administrators, including 1,600 who kept a time-use diary that included completing a daily log of their professional activities for one week each month throughout the last school year. It was done under the terms of the 2013 legislated settlement of teacher collective agreements. The government commissioned R.A. Malatest and Associates to conduct the $500,000 independent study, which was overseen by a steering committee that included representatives of school boards, the government and the ATA.
The study results are consistent with other studies into teachers’ practice in Alberta, Ramsankar said. 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 this latest study also contains considerable information about the additional professional time required by administrators and 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 2,163 hours over the course of the year.
Ramsankar said the study should now end doubts about the realities of teacher work, like those expressed previously by the last government and some school boards.
“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.” ❚