What Would Make a Difference?

In a previous post I wondered out-loud, what are teachers experiencing and whether we were asking for the right thing, by asking for more money during our collective employment agreement negotiations.

I said:

The money makes you feel better about taking work home; about the years lost off your life to stress; about the time away from your family and friends; about the time spent working instead of eating healthy, exercising, sleeping well and looking after your mental health.

It is clear what I think - money is nice but what many teachers really want is better working conditions. But, what does that look like? First year teachers in New Zealand do no more than 15 contact hours per week, second year teachers do no more than 17.5 hours, and fully qualified & registered teachers, no more than 20 hours.1

Year Total Hours Max. Contact Hours Non-Contacts
1st (0.8FTE) 25 15.0 10
2nd (0.9FTE) 25 17.5 7.5
3rd (1.0FTE) 25 20.0 5

I hear you say, what about before school, morning tea, lunch and after school? Well, before school is briefing, morning tea can be very short (~15-20min), lunch is often taken up with duty, tutorials, detentions, meetings, and after school has meetings, sports and other commitments too. Not to mention, morning tea and lunch are for the staff to eat too, not just the students.

So, during the school day I have around 5 hours to do marking, preparation, planning, read student reports and give feedback, organise my (unpaid) sporting duties, and the numerous other things that are required of you as a teacher:

There’s just no way. So, what to do? Instead of paying teachers even more in our next collective agreement negotiations:

  1. Reduce the 1.0FTE hours to 0.8, thereby reducing contact time and increasing non-contact time,
  2. hire more teachers.

  1. https://www.ppta.org.nz/publication-library/document/99https://www.ppta.org.nz/publication-library/document/99 ↩︎