In response to the post 11/3/2010 post, “Yes, I Know the Hours are Long,” a teacher writes: If you only spend 6 hours in meetings and could use the remaining time to grade and plan, I would agree with your post. But, when you add district initiatives that overlap, contradict and don’t make sense then you have added much more on top of your plate. Furthermore, 60 hours is a guess. Lastly, to tell teachers that there are better ways to make a living with better pay is self-serving and arrogant. We are trying to attract quality people in education (an already arduous task) not repel them. I think your tact is wrong, encouragement is a better tact than intimidation. What do you think? SC Response I like the way you lay out your concerns in your comment. First of all, I admit that my “60 hours” number is an average, based on my observations of thousands of teachers on hundreds of campuses. Individual teachers may work either more efficiently or less efficiently to achieve the same results. Personally, when I was in the classroom, I was able to devote about 54 hours a week to the job, and outperform my peers. But the hours that I worked are no longer a relevant rubric and here is why. There are three factors to consider when examining the average number of hours that I worked as a classroom teacher. A. Accountability was not the issue that it is today. So my job was easier. B. The scope and sequence for the subject I taught was driven by the textbook. My job was to start with Chapter One and then try to finish the book at the end of the year. So my job was easier. C. My math students were outperforming the students in all the other classes, so I wasn’t being pushed to catch anyone. So my job was easier. As such, it is my assumption that if I was in the classroom today, I would have to work more than the 54 hours a week I used to average. Second, since I don’t know which district you work in, I can’t specifically address the overlapping district initiatives you are currently dealing with. But in general, there are always seemingly overlapping initiatives that impact the classroom. Special education procedures change without warning, bi-lingual requirements and programs evolve, the curriculum changes, software gets upgraded. It is an unfortunate fact of life. And the impact of this is magnified, the further behind you find a campus and/or district. If your district hasn’t embraced inclusion, isn’t meeting the needs of LEP students, hasn’t universally adopted a common scope and sequence, and is using computers built in the early 2000’s, then the district’s only option is to change everything at once. This exacts a considerable physical and emotional toll on teachers. This is why LYS focuses on Foundations, Fundamentals and Essentials. You have to simplify to survive in chaos and complexity. Third, to ask someone to reflect on whether or not teaching is his or her vocation or avocation, as I did, would seem to be the exact opposite of self-serving and arrogant. Self-serving would be to tell teachers to suck it up and work harder, faster and longer, with no support. Arrogant would be to not engage in dialogue with campus based staff, because they refuse to see “the big picture.” Neither has ever been my intent or motivation. Fourth, my agenda is not to attract or retain “warm-bodies” to the profession. Just as I don’t want a “warm-body” doctor, lawyer, CPA, or pilot, I have little use for a “warm-body” educator. The “warm-body” subtracts much more than he or she adds. In fact, on my campus, and later, my campuses, if you didn’t live and breathe improved student performance, it didn’t make you a bad person, it just made you a poor fit for my staff. A fact that became a source of staff pride as the performance of our students attracted international attention. It has been my experience that you attract quality people by providing an honest assessment of the situation and providing a compelling mission and vision. I may not have as many takers, but day in and day out, the professionals that do accept the challenge will outperform everyone else. Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…Visit the LYS Booth at the TASA Mid-winter Conference