On the clock

I have no idea how many hours I work each week.  And according to a recent blog post in the Times Higher Educational Supplement, most academics don't.  Some cite a statistic as high as 80 hours a week, which I think is nonsense.  Others suggest somewhere between 40 and 50, which strikes me about right.

Here's what I know.  I'm up every morning around 4:00 am and do an hour and a half of grading, eat breakfast and get into the office on most days by 7:30 am.   More grading or prepping for class and then teaching four different courses 10 times throughout the week, plus the mandatory five office hours a week. I serve on two committees (Core Oversight and P & T) and two task forces. Several times a week, too, there is a late afternoon meeting.  So I end up heading home after 5:00 on those days.  So there's a good 9-10 hours a day when I am working either at home or on campus, plus another four to six each weekend.  Let's say 47-55 hours a week.  According to a recent Gallup Poll the average work week for Americans is 47 hours.  So I suppose I'm right at the average for an American with a job. 

In the end, though, teaching just isn't the kind of work you measure in hours.  Thanks to texts and tweets, you're never fully off the job.  My students email me 24/7 to ask things and they expect quick responses.  I don't always comply, especially if it's a question like Hey, is something due tomorrow? or What are we supposed to read for Wednesday?  That syllabus I labored on last summer was supposed to eliminate such questions, but it rarely does.

I also spend a great deal of time mulling things over: why didn't that work?  How am I going to engage a room full of 19-year olds?  Are they really getting it?  As a result the definition of 'on the clock' in teaching seems fairly elastic.  We would all be rich if we were paid with billable hours.


Anonymous said…
So what gimmicks do you use to engage the 19-year olds? If someone is not interested in the material and they have the attention span of a fly, there's nothing you can do about it.

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