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Teaching, Mathematics and Teaching Math.

International Comparisons of Maths Teachers

Posted by forumjoe on May 19, 2010

I’ve been doing lots of thinking about things like blogging.  I read a few other people’s teaching blogs, and it always seems that they have so much TIME.  Maybe it’s because I’m new to the profession, but I don’t see many Australian teachers blogging about their work to the same extent as British and US.  It got me wondering about the sorts of hours they put in to different roles.  US teachers talk about office hours where they are there for their students to come and ask questions, and this gets used a lot more than my similar time here.  I’d really like someone to describe a typical day of a US Teacher to me to make the survey more appropriate.

So, I’m going to pose a questionairre that I’d like responses to.  I’ve got three weeks Winter Break coming up, so I’ll be able to collate the results if I get enough information.  First I’d like feedback on my questions though.  Don’t answer these questions, just tell me if you think I’ll get valid data, or if I need to clarify things before I publish.  I’ll post a Google.Docs survey when I nail down the questions.

A Survey for Full-Time maths teachers around the world

Country:

Ages Taught*:

How many different class groups do you teach?

Per week, how many hours are you in class, teaching students?

Per week, how many hours are you at school for?

Per week, how many hours do you spend on Pastoral Care?

Per week, how many hours do you spend in staff meetings?

Using keywords, what else do you do in your school time not covered above?

Per week, how many hours do you spend at home marking or preparing?

Per week, how many hours do you spend reading/writing/contributing on the Internet with other teachers?

Any parts of your job that you feel important that aren’t covered above?

Any other comments?

*The Primary/Secondary schooling divide is different for countries, and “7th grade” means different things in different countries, so I’d rather get the range of ages taught as a more comparable metric.

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12 Responses to “International Comparisons of Maths Teachers”

  1. All of the time I spend at school helping kids before/after school is not “required” so perhaps you can word the question/add another question to determine how much of what people are doing is above and beyond their contractual duties.

    I would have a hard time quantifying my time online — I multitask. Or switch tasks a lot. However one wants to think about it. I don’t have a set “internet time” per day.

    And, uhm, I have no idea what you mean by “pastoral care”.

    • forumjoe said

      Hi Jackie.
      Thanks for your feedback. This is the sort of stuff I need. I’ll change a few questions.
      And I know the internet time is more multitasking and less dedicated time (read something whenever you get a minute).

      Pastoral Care? Must be an Australian term, and it’s hard to define. At my current school we’ve got a “homeclass” that the kids turn up to for 10 minutes at the beginning of each day and 5 minutes at the end to have their attendance taken and other admin matters. Most schools I know of locally have something similar. I’m responsible for looking after those kids, even though I don’t teach them Maths. I talk to other teachers about any problems their having, and their parents, etc. This takes up about 2 hours a week of my time, and it’s nothing to do with maths, but everything to do with looking after the wellbeing of 17 kids.

  2. CalcDave said

    Country: USA

    Ages Taught*: 15-18

    How many different class groups do you teach? 3 (Algebra 2, Calculus honors, calculus AP)

    Per week, how many hours are you in class, teaching students? 5 (+45 min planning and 45 min study hall supervision)

    Per week, how many hours are you at school for? School hours are 7am to 3pm. I usually leave around 5pm

    Per week, how many hours do you spend on Pastoral Care? 0 (public school)

    Per week, how many hours do you spend in staff meetings? 1.5 hr per month

    Using keywords, what else do you do in your school time not covered above? supervise lunch, direct traffic after school, study hall (as above)

    Per week, how many hours do you spend at home marking or preparing? About 2 hours per week at home, much is done at school

    Per week, how many hours do you spend reading/writing/contributing on the Internet with other teachers? 15 hrs a week (maybe?)

    • forumjoe said

      CalcDave, 5 hours a week in class teaching? But you’re there for 8 hours a day! Did you mean you teach 5 hours a day?

      • I’m not a math teacher, I’ll just respond though and you can ignore it if you want. I teach science. I’m also under the impression that Australia and the US (along with I think NZ and Mexico) have unusually high teaching hours. That is, we spend more time in front of kids than most other countries even though our days might be about the same.

        A Survey for Full-Time maths teachers around the world

        Country: US

        Ages Taught*: 13-14 y/o

        How many different class groups do you teach? 5 periods, 53 minutes each

        Per week, how many hours are you in class, teaching students? About twenty if I’m doing the math right.

        Per week, how many hours are you at school for?
        Contracted: 35 hours
        In practice: about 50
        Per week, how many hours do you spend on Pastoral Care?
        Zero
        Per week, how many hours do you spend in staff meetings?
        1.5 hours
        Using keywords, what else do you do in your school time not covered above?
        yard duty, clubs, committees
        Per week, how many hours do you spend at home marking or preparing?
        12 hours. About 2 hours a day plus 2 more on Sunday.
        Per week, how many hours do you spend reading/writing/contributing on the Internet with other teachers?
        Maybe 12 also, but like Jackie said, much of it is multitask time.
        Any parts of your job that you feel important that aren’t covered above?
        Going to school events? Like school dances and sporting events.

        Any other comments?

      • CalcDave said

        Haha. Yes, sorry. 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. So, 25 hours a week.

      • CalcDave said

        Also, the “class groups” are the different courses. I have 5 “periods” (2 sections of Alg 2, 1 honors calc, and 2 AP Calc) each day. And Jason’s answers reminded me that we are required to do 15 minutes before and after school patrolling hallways and 3 times per semester we have to sell tickets to athletics or do some other extracurricular duty.

  3. Pastoral time sounds like what we call Advisory.

    Also Sam Shah pointed this out in a post,but bloggers are by no mean a representative sample of the US teaching pop. The very fact we’re here skews us to a more progressive group and we generally don’t blog about the time we spend a staff meeting playing flight control.

    • forumjoe said

      Advisory? Cool, I’ll include that word in the question.

      I would have included Sam in the tweet, but ran out of characters. 😉

      I know you’re not representative of the general teaching population in terms of methods and dedication, but I’m more concerned with the things that are required of a teacher in the US. I assume things like “Hours spent in class teaching” and “hours required to be spent in a staff-meeting” would be equivalent between progressive bloggers and general teachers who don’t read the internet.

  4. forumjoe said

    For those interested, here are my own answers to the questions:

    Country: AUS

    Ages Taught*: 12-16

    How many different class groups do you teach? 5

    Per week, how many hours are you in class, teaching students? 18

    Per week, how many hours are you at school for? Required hours are 8:15am – 4:00pm x 5 days

    Per week, how many hours do you spend on Pastoral Care? 2

    Per week, how many hours do you spend in staff meetings? 2

    Using keywords, what else do you do in your school time not covered above? egads, Co-Curricular, 3 hours a week managing a basketball team outside of those hours.

    Per week, how many hours do you spend at home marking or preparing? about 4 or 5.

    Per week, how many hours do you spend reading/writing/contributing on the Internet with other teachers? About 2 (not as much as I’d like)

    That’s a pretty typical teaching load in Australia (from what I can gather) but I’m really curious about other countries. Anyway, we’ll sort that stuff out once I get the survey online.

  5. Kate Nowak said

    It might be interesting and help with the sampling bias to separate out, where appropriate, “how much time is required” and “how much non-required time do you spend.”

    I’m also interested in the cultural differences referenced by Jason. It would be awesome to get a sample of non-western teachers to respond.

    • forumjoe said

      Hi Kate,
      I was trying to get that distinction across, but I also want to keep the number of questions small. It really should be a 30 second survey. But I will rephrase some of the questions to clarify whether I’m talking about required time or non-required time.

      The cultural differences of East and West are certainly something I’m interested in, as well as comparisons with the western countries (US, UK, Aus, Canada) and Europe (Germany, France, Spain, etc). However, I’m just a humble maths teacher in a tiny island off Australia. I’ll publish the survey first, then worry about getting as many people as possible from different countries to contribute. Twitter will only really get as far as you Americans, I’ll have to use some other resources to reach a truly international audience.

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