Productivity Strategies, Podcast Articles | Jun 15, 2021
The 40 Hour Workweek is here…for teachers, admins, AND instructional coaches
By Angela Watson
Founder and Writer
Systemic problems need systemic solutions. To support educators in your school with creating better work/life balance, here’s what’s new from 40 Hour.
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Work/life balance solutions for teachers
I created the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program back in 2015, and despite the name, the goal isn’t actually to work 40 hours a week. The goal is to maximize your contractual work hours–which are usually around 40 hours a week–so you’re not working endlessly on nights and weekends.
The average teacher is working 62 hours a week when they join, and 51 hours a week when they complete the program. So it’s not a 40 hour workweek for most, although many do keep to their contractual hours. The typical savings is 11 hours a week, which is around 500 hours a year. That’s really the difference between burning out and making teaching a more sustainable career, and that’s my whole goal.
However … a lot of what creates teacher burnout is stuff beyond teachers’ control. I can offer individual solutions to a lot of problems, from grading hacks to ideas for streamlining lesson planning, to strategies for managing email and staying organized. All that stuff is in the 40HTW and it makes a massive difference for teachers.
Ultimately, we can’t solve systemic problems with individual solutions. We need collective problem solving. Ideally, teachers will be working in schools with administrators who also see the value in work/life balance, who create a school-wide culture focused on wellbeing and reducing time wasters and unnecessary work.
40 Hour Leadership to support principals and other administrators in shifting school culture
Now you might be thinking, Yeah, that’s ideal, all right. That is NOT reality. My principal expects us to do whatever it takes for kids and doesn’t care how many hours I work. This is something my school leaders would never get behind.
But you might be surprised to know their principal may be one of hundreds who have contacted me over the years asking, “Is there a 40 hour club for administrators?”
The truth is that everyone who works in schools feels overwhelmed by all of the responsibilities. That feeling of never being able to get ahead, never having done enough, and being pulled in 100 different directions? It isn’t unique to teachers. Administrators are feeling it too.
One of the root problems is that the way that we traditionally do school is inefficient. There are a lot of broken systems and cumbersome bureaucracies within most schools that just haven’t been re-imagined.
Administrators — principles, assistant principals, deans, counselors, and everyone else carrying the load of school-based leadership — need support too.
And when their workload is simplified, streamlined, and their energies are focused on what matters most… everyone else in the school benefits.
So beginning this summer, we’re going to be piloting the 40 Hour Leadership program for administrators with a select group of schools that truly want to innovate.
The goal for admins is similar to the goal for teachers. It’s not about working 40 hours, it’s about being intentional with your time. It’s a five module program that will help admins do a time audit to figure out where teachers’ time is being spent and what they can remove from teachers’ plates, and create more efficient, effective procedures for meetings, email, and more.
40 Hour Leadership is designed to change systems. It’s focused on not only what’s best for kids, but also what is sustainable and manageable for the adults responsible for them. We believe a system is not best for kids if it causes the adults to burn out, and subsequently under perform or quit. If we want to reduce the teacher attrition crisis, we have to center the well-being, care, and work life balance of those working in our classrooms.
Great teaching and great school leadership is not achieved by working harder or putting in longer hours, but by prioritizing the things that make the biggest impact. We believe that when administrators have the tools and support they need to be organized and manage their time well, everyone else in the school benefits.
40 Hour Instructional Coaching
We’re going to be offering a special version of 40 Hour for Instructional Coaches, as well.
This is something else I’ve been asked about countless times but honestly didn’t have the bandwidth to create. Then back in April, Nicole Turner of Simply Coaching approached me about having her team co-create the materials, and everything fell into place quickly.
We are working together to create a course that will help instructional coaches prioritize tasks and organize their time, then help the teachers they work with do the same. It covers how to create coaching cycles and focus on growing teachers and tiering teachers for support. There are processes and templates to help instructional coaches streamline data collection, observations, and professional development they present to staff. The program also covers some basics on how to coach teachers to be intentional with their time.
We anticipate releasing some of the 40 Hour Instructional Coaching materials on July 1st when the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program begins, but we’re announcing August 15th as the final date when all the entire program is ready, just to make sure we’re not rushing or cutting any concerns trying to meet a tight deadline. So you can pre-order the 40 Hour Instructional Coaching program now and get the materials the moment they’re released.
How to support the vision and help create systemic change with us
If you love this idea of maximizing contractual hours and creating a school-wide culture that’s focused on productivity and wellbeing so that education is a more sustainable career path…here’s how you can support the vision.
1. If you haven’t taken the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program yet, we’re accepting new members through July 15th.
It’s a yearlong program that begins each July and supports you through each season of the school year, so summer is the only chance to begin with a cohort of like minded educators. Get in the program and start leading by example in your school — find ways to set boundaries and still do a great job for kids. Show your colleagues and admin it’s possible.
2. If you can find a like-minded colleague, we have a “join with a friend” bonus.
Enter each other’s names in the referral section when you each sign up individually, and you’ll both get your own $20 Amazon gift card in September. Having a colleague go through the program with you will enable you to get even better results and start shifting norms in your school.
3. If you have a good relationship with your administrators and/or your instructional coach, let them know about the programs we’re offering for them.
40 Hour Leadership and 40 Hour Instructional Coaching is designed to make their jobs simpler and less stressful — you can just pass along the links, or even give your admin a PDF brochure we have that explains how the various programs work.
4. If you get a good response from this, you may be able to get your admin on board to pay via purchase order for the 40 Hour teacher, 40 Hour admin, and 40 Hour IC programs using school funds.
We have an awesome customer support team that can answer questions and help get everything set up so no one’s paying out of pocket. Obviously that’s the goal here — to get everyone in the school using shared vocabulary and strategies and working toward a shared vision, but you can baby step toward that as your school budget allows. Maybe just you and your principal start for this year, and expand from there.
5. If you’ve already taken the 40 Hour program, please don’t be shy about telling other educators about it.
We’ve had 42,000 teachers utilize it which sounds massive but there are around 3.5 million teachers in the US alone. We’ve only reached maybe 1% of them, and if they’re not listening to teacher podcasts or reading teaching blogs or following teacher social media, they may not know that there IS a more sustainable approach to teaching.
Your recommendation of the program means way more than me telling them about it, and in fact, I attribute the success of 40 Hour almost entirely to word of mouth, to teachers taking the leap of faith, seeing that this works, and telling their friends it’s the real deal. So please, let your union know, let your colleagues know, post on your social channels. That referral program applies for you, too — if they list your name and email when they sign up, you get a $20 Amazon gift card for each person.
6. If you’re done with the teacher program and you’re now an admin or a coach, see if you can secure funding to help with your current position.
Because those jobs are so different from teaching, there’s very little overlap between what you’ve already done and the leadership and coaching programs, so it would totally be worth it for you to do it.
This is our year to truly reimagine education (not just talk about it)
Friends, this is our year. We are in a great time of transition in education, where we’re on the brink of a brand new phase. What aspects of pre-pandemic teaching will we try to return to? What did we try this past year and a half that we want to keep? What will the future of education look like?
This is the time for intentionality, for revaluation priorities. We cannot just try to rush back to normal and the way everything was before, when what we had before wasn’t working for all teachers and kids. Do not settle for normal this coming school year. Take control of your personal and professional development. Lead the change in your school to focus on how to do fewer things better. We have to find a sustainable approach to work in education, and all these 40 Hour tools can help.
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