Last week, over at Canadian Finance Blog, I wrote a post that was supposed to be an ode to working hard. I told the story of a shopkeeper who worked his tail off, never taking a day off, in an attempt to get ahead. As the post continued, I wanted to encourage people of every profession to stop watching episodes of Vampire Diaries and to start working on a side hustle, both because I want them to increase their income and because shows about vampires generally don’t float this author’s boat. As I wrote the post, I wanted to use an example of a profession that could easily do a side hustle.
And, foolishly, I picked teachers. I am such an idiot sometimes.
At first glance, it appears teachers have all sorts of downtime. School is out for 2 months in the summer, as well as 2 weeks over Christmas and a week over Easter. Sure, I thought, there’s prep work to do, and marking, and so on, but it can’t possibly take that much time. The teachers I know do take work home with them, but so do all sorts of other people in other professions. Anyway, judging from the comments, I was very, very wrong. A small sampling:
I found your example of “lazy” teachers to be totally unfair. Students leave at the ring of the last bell, teachers don’t. There are a lot of prep work to do, parents to call, classroom to tidy up and homework to grade. That’s on a normal day. Let’s not even talk about the burning of the midnight oil during report card time. If you believe that teachers can just wake up in the morning and improvise an entire day of lessons than either you think teachers can do the impossible or maybe you had a lazy teacher when you were younger.
But wait, there’s more. Another comment:
While you’re right in thinking that they often are able to leave the school at 4.30p — especially in this era of non-existent funding for extra curricular activities — you’re dead wrong in thinking they go home without work. Many of them spend their evenings grading and doing lesson prep. The prep time that many of them used to get in the AM is time they’re also now expected to be available to students and parents, so if they planned on that time to prepare for their day, they may get a rude awakening. Those two months they get off in the summer? They’re expected to take at least some of that time to upgrade their skills at their own expense.
As I read those comments, one thought went through my head. I thought wow, teaching is the worst job in the world.
Low Pay For The Hours Worked
Obviously I have to make some assumptions, but bear with me here. The average teacher in Canada makes a little over $71,000. (Source) Let’s assume they spend 9 hours per day times 5 days a week at school teaching and what not. They also work hard outside of school too, so let’s assume an additional 10 hours per week doing stuff like marking, lesson plans and extracurricular activities. Also, let’s assume they take one university level course over the summer, which takes about 40 hours. That means they work 55 hours a week times 41 weeks, plus an additional 40 hours over the summer. That equals 2295 hours per year. Once we crunch the numbers, it turns out the average teacher in Canada makes only a little more than $30 per hour. Oh, the humanity!
Just to play devils advocate here, just how much does the average person work? I spend about 9 hours a day working, times 5 days a week, times 49 weeks per year. It turns out I work 2205 hours per year. Pretty comparable amounts, and I have time for a side hustle. Interesting.
The Job Must Be Horrible
Considering how excited they get whenever someone questions the amount of time teachers work, teachers must really be sick of the public thinking they’re a bunch of slackers. That’s totally understandable, and I don’t want to degrade the profession at all. I wouldn’t be writing this right now if it wasn’t for a bunch of different teachers giving me the tools needed to communicate.
But yet, it seems like every comment section on the entire internet talks about how horrible of a job teaching is. The hours are long, the kids don’t behave these days, and budgets are tighter than ever. Extracurricular activities have been cut to the bone, class sizes have increased, and looming government budget deficits mean less potential for raises in the future. Looking at all that would lead one to believe that teaching is kind of a crummy job with a not so bright future.
But wait. If all that’s true, why is there a surplus of teachers in Canada?
Just Stop Whining
I’m going to repeat myself, again, for those of you who’ll end up getting excited and leaving an angry comment about how I hate teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth. What they do is a noble profession, definitely a hell of a lot more worthy than selling potato chips. They work just as many hours at their job as what you or I do, albeit a little differently. If they’re any good at their job, (which most are) they will influence kids to follow their dreams and give them the tools needed to pursue them.
But, working hard isn’t exclusive to teachers. Annoying customers (those would be parents) are present in every business. Misbehaving students can be annoying, just like slacker co-workers. Every business has pluses and minuses, I don’t care what it is. And yet, when someone has the audacity to point out this stuff, teachers get more excited than a fruity guy discovering a Glee marathon. There can be no balanced discussion because teachers immediately go on the defensive.
I’m not calling any teachers lazy, or a slacker, or anything like that. I am, however, calling them whiny. The world has had enough of your complaining. If it’s so bad, get another job.