For the most part, I think the big difference is experience; having it means you're both more efficient and more prepared. This effectively lowers a veteran's hours.* Still, that's not the whole story. Another issue is that my contracted day is conflated with my working day.
I've noted before that I have approximately one hour of contracted non-instructional time weekly. However, I have lots of non-instructional job responsibilities. You can tell me if it looks like an hour of work to you (and I invite any teachers reading to add requirements and responsibilities I have forgotten).
Could I do some of these things with the students present? I don't know; they're five. Is it better to devote my attention to them or to preparing for them? Which would you prefer your children's teachers do?
Things to Do When the Children Are Not in Class
- Assess work samples.
- Analyze assessment data.
- Record data (in report cards or on the District online data system).
- Plan lessons.
- Meet and co-plan with other staff (librarian, PE teacher, etc.).
- Debrief with other staff.
- Clean desks.
- Take care of classroom pets (certain responsibilities cannot be assigned to five year olds).
- Monitor, repair, and clean supplies.
- Flush pipes so that water is unleaded. (This involves standing at a sink pressing down on the fountain button, contemplating the waste of water.)
- Update behavior/social-emotional logs for any students requiring such monitoring (1-2/year).
- Call/text families as needed (Daily texts are the one of the most effective behavior incentives I've ever tried, by the way - the five year olds LOVE it and can be really reflective about how their day went).
- Write grants (I've gotten six or seven already this year - this consumes quite a bit of time).
- Write and respond to work-related email.
- Write field trip requests, bus requests, and permission slips.
- Return work-related phone calls.
- Meet with after school program to discuss student observations and provide support.
- Wash smocks, dress up clothes, Body Sox, Co-Oper Blanket, etc.
- Make photocopies.
- Make charts and posters (a lot of these are new annually, either because they are completed in-class or because I am a perfectionist).
- Write out daily schedule, refurbish centers/groups charts.
- Take recycling to recycling bins.
- Laminate, cut, collate, and staple materials.
- Plan and debrief with Resident teacher.
- Close windows (this is a major endeavor involving a long pole and standing on furniture in my classroom. It takes about ten minutes).
- Restore card charts/cubby markers/calendar for the next day's use.
- Organize books, book bins.
- Collate and organize homework and weekly school information packets.
- Portion out paint, tiles, and other small manipulatives for lesson.
- Restore same to storage boxes after use.
- Purchase food, bedding, etc. for classroom pets.
- Go to the Children's Book Project and SCRAP.
- Stop making this list before becoming so depressed I have to go back to bed.
*Apparently Bureau of Labor Statistics data report that veterans work longer hours than new teachers.