Saturday, September 15, 2012

Anti-Teacher Argument #2 "But You Get Prep Time!"

In my previous blog I used mathematics to show that teachers work a regular "9 to 5" workday.  This is an important fact moving forward.

Today, I will tackle another common myth about teachers: that we get time during the school day to prepare our lessons and mark student work.

The truth is we do.  It is called "PREP" time and right now it sits at 250 minutes per week, or about 50 minutes per day.

*Note that the 2012-2013 school year is the first time teachers have had 250 minutes of prep time.

John Snoblen, a former Ontario Minister of Education for the Harris Government, wrote the following in the March 12, 2012 edition of the Toronto Sun about "prep" time.

"The same holds true for preparation time. The Ontario school system now features obscene amounts of preparation time for teachers. There is no demonstrable benefit for students and parents from all of the money we spend paying teachers not to teach. But there is one obvious benefit — you guessed it — less work for teachers."

These are some powerful statements from a former Minister of Education.  He clearly believes that teachers should not be allowed time to prepare.

But here is a question:  Why should teachers be different from other Ontario employees?

Think about it.  Most jobs in Ontario that have 8 hour shifts see employees get 90 minutes off  (1 Hour Lunch, 2-15 minute breaks).

For the first time in history Ontario teachers now get the exact same amount of time off.  (50 minutes in prep + a 40 minute lunch).

So while teachers do get "PREP" time, so does everyone else.  

Of course, there may be some people who do not receive 30 minutes in break.  For arguments sake, lets go back to my prior blog when I said that teachers actually work from 8:50 to 5:10.  

Lets assume now then that teachers, because of their prep time, receive 30 minutes extra in breaks (90 minutes vs 60 minutes).

Given this situation a teacher then works from 9 am to 4:50 pm (I have taken 30 minutes off their work day).

So, in the worst case, minimalist situation, a teacher works 7 hours and 50 minutes a day.

10 minutes less than a regular "8 hour" work shift.

Is this 10 minutes really an "obscene amount of preparation time" that the former Minister of Education would have you believe?



  1. Elementary teachers get 240 minutes of prep for this year, not 250.

  2. Perhaps that varies by board. I agree though, that it is 240 minutes per 5 day instructional period in my board this year as well.

    Tammy Aiello
    Teaching FSL

  3. Which employees work a paid 8 hour day in professional organizations ? The working day has expanded to be 8a-5p with most carrying a smartphone and completing work outside of the office as preparation and expectation of the job. As well, the two 15's are paid while the lunch break is not mandated as paid. a 7-3 worker is normally paid for 7.5 hrs of pay not 8.

    Reality of the working world as the "Typical Ontario Worker" needs to be reconsidered here. Teachers are not blue collar, hourly workers but professionals. The expectation of remuneration needs to be reflected in that. When considering that, also kindly remember that merit, in the professional world often refereed to as competition or drive, is what determines compensation, not tenure and seniority.

    1. Please read my prior blogs. The "8 hour" shift that teachers work is based only on 6 additional time consuming activities- each which were ridiculously underestimated for the sake of argument.

      Do you really think it takes an average of 1 minute to mark a students paper? math test? geometry report?

      Do you really think it takes 1 minute to prepare a lesson per child?

      Do you really think these 6 tasks are the only ones that teachers perform outside of school?

      I could easily show you that a typical teachers day is in fact 7:30 am to 7 pm on most days.

  4. Neal, I do see your points and I believe there is merit to them. My concern is the idea of competition in the teaching world. If my pay is based on how well my students do, there is a slippery slope looming on the horizon. As seen in the US, standards tend to drop with the attachment of a dollar amount to which teacher is 'better' based on student marks. Also, there are many examples of tenure and seniority(aka experience) weighing in on salary expectations.

    I may be being a bit sensitive but your last comments seem to imply that teachers lack drive and ambition. I can assure you, we are as driven as any other group of professionals.

    Teachers regularly upgrade their qualifications not just in their original teachable subjects, but also expanding their knowledge base into other specific subject areas, and in the realm of educational practice and theory. We are not sitting stagnant and mired in the ideas of 20 years ago. Actually, ask anyone in the education system and they will tell you that theories and best practices change almost from season to season. Staying up to date is all part of the job as far as many of us are concerned.

    While that may not mean we deserve a raise in your opinion, I would hope that the stereotype of a lazy teacher with no desire to do more than sit at the front of the class and read the paper would be passe by now.