Friday, June 5, 2009

The truth about that two month vacation

One of the things that drives me (in fact, al teachers) batshit crazy is this: "Boy, I wish I got two months off. I have to work year-round!"

First, you're lucky I get two months off. There's a reason why humans don't whelp like dogs: most of us can handle 1,2, maybe as many as 4 or 5 kids before it's too much to handle. I deal with an average of 32 students at any one time for 7 hours a day. Most parents deal with their own children 6 hours a day on average if you don't count the amount of time they spend at work and even they get tired of the kids from time to time.

Second, ask a teacher how long they work during the school year. I bet you'll be surprised just how many hours we put in. For example, on average I work 10 hours a day during the working week, and between 6-8 hours on Sunday. Every Sunday. Teaching is only part of what I do. I also have to grade, contact parents about grades, go to parent/staff meetings, develop curriculum, plan day to day lessons, program my digital whiteboard with the next day's lesson, update my homework calendar, respond to parent e-mails, go to cross-curricular and cross-grade planning meetings for three different subjects, go to staff development, go to special education meetings, and do a hundred other things that come up from time to time like band concerts, sporting events, back to school night, parent conferences, incoming 6th grade parent night, academic recognition ceremonies, etc.

Here's the math on what my year is like as a teacher:

My work-week:
6:30-4:30 = 10 hours per day x 5 days + 6 hours on Sunday = 56 hours worked per week

My work year-
52 weeks per year - 12 weeks (vacations) = 40 weeks X 56 hours per week = 2240 hours per year

Now, here's the break-down on a person working a 40 hour work week year-round, including working on Christmas

52 weeks per year x 40 hours per week = 2080 hours per year (40 hour work week).

Now, you might say, "Who works a 40 hour work week anymore? I'm pulling 50 hours myself. Here's what it looks like:

52 weeks per year x 50 hours per week = 2600 hours per year (50 hour work week).

Oh, by the way, do you get lunch? I work through my lunch every day so I don't have to stay later in the day. If you work a 40 or 50 hour work week but you get lunch, here's how it breaks down (by a half-hour lunch and by an hour lunch)

.5 hours x 5 days = 2.5 hours per week x 52 weeks per year = 130 hours
2080 hours (40 hr week) - 130 hrs (lunch) = 1950 hours per year (40 hour week, 1/2 hour lunch)
2600 hours (50 hr week) - 130 hrs (lunch) = 2470 hours per year (50 hour week, 1/2 hour lunch)
2080 hours (40 hour week) - 260 hrs (lunch) = 1820 hours per year (40 hour week, hour lunch)
2600 hours (50 hour week) - 260 hrs (lunch) = 2370 hours per year (50 hour week, hour lunch)

Now, here's an interesting piece of math. I make about $40,000 per year for what I do. If I got an hourly wage rather than a salary, here's what I would be making an hour.

40000 / 2240 hours per year = $17.85 per hour

I had to go to 6 years of college to learn to do what I do. And I get half of what my husband makes, who didn't. Believe me, we aren't doing it for the money. Until you allow teachers to bring a small flask of whiskey to school to help us get through the day, be glad we have our summers off. We'd invent games like "throw the scissors hard" (thanks, Dennis Miller, for this joke) otherwise.

Update: my husband reminded me that the average US worker gets two weeks off. So, here's the totals including vacation time:

Teacher: 2240 hrs/yr
40 hr week (1/2 hour lunch): 1875 hrs/yr
50 hr week (1/2 hour lunch): 2375 hrs/yr

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