Iris Driessen teaches Dutch for 16 hours a week at the Hyperion Lyceum in Amsterdam and is a primary care coordinator.
Iris Driessen teaches Dutch for 16 hours a week at the Hyperion Lyceum in Amsterdam and is a primary care coordinator.

Picture: Fred van Diem

High work pressure: a full-time job with 0,7 fte

Many high school teachers work part-time. An appointment of more than 70 percent is actually unwise, especially for starters, say the experience experts. “I hand in salary for a weekend off.”

Why don't Dutch teachers work full time? That would immediately solve the teacher shortage, according to a letter sent in on April 19 in de Volkskrant was standing. Dutch teacher Jacquelien thought that the letter writer gave 'an extremely simple representation', she wrote two days later in the same place. “He doesn't wonder why there is a relatively large amount of part-time work in education,” she says when we call her for an explanation. “Working part-time means working full-time hours in education.” She has been teaching Dutch in the lower and upper years of havo and vwo for more than sixteen years and is therefore quite experienced. She chooses to work 36 hours, so 80 percent. “Monday is my day off. That is to say: timetable-free, not work-free. I prepare classes at home on Mondays, check work and work all day. But I keep my weekend so free. So I hand in salary for a weekend off.”

'Working part-time means working full-time hours in education'

Biology teacher Niels, who, like Jacquelien, does not have his last name in Dutch Education magazine wants, according to his salary slip 'only' works 70 percent. “I get paid for that. But I work full time.” He wants a good balance between his work and private life, he says. “I see it in all my colleagues: if you work full-time, you always have to do a lot of things on the weekend. I'd rather not." Marking for his subject takes a lot of time, which may have to do with the different curriculum at the international school where he works, he says. “It concerns research analyzes and lab reports or extensive documents full of research data. To check it, I need rest and I can't do that in between at school, so I have to do that at home."

This article is from the July Education Magazine. Do you want to stay informed of everything that is going on in education? Join the AOb and receive the Education magazine every month.

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But apart from that: at every school there are many extra tasks, being a teacher is much more than just teaching. “Preparing, taking tests and checking, of course. The rule here is that we return the work to students within two weeks. But there are also all kinds of administrative tasks. You have all kinds of hands-on services that need to be done, such as extracurricular activities. And if a colleague is ill, we often have to help with observing a class: all of that creates work pressure.” He emphasizes: “I have a good balance. With that 0,7 appointment I have a normal full-time job, but of course that doesn't make any sense." He has seen enough colleagues fall over with burnout, he says. “Certainly if you have children, a family, working full-time is too hard. If something is not going quite right in private, it quickly becomes too much to continue to function properly.” He is sometimes disappointed: “As teachers, we all think our profession is very beautiful. We want to present the best of ourselves to students, use our creativity to the full in creating interesting and fun lessons. But often you can't because you don't have the time. That is too bad."

Formula 1

Jacquelien recognizes this too: “Even though I am experienced, I try to update my lessons and make it fun for the students. Am I going to edit a newspaper article about Formula 1 at Zandvoort for a lesson on argumentation and fallacies for havo-4. That will be excellent teaching material and they really like it. I spend an extra hour and a half on that in the evening. But it also keeps my profession interesting for me.”

'Teaching is your core task, but we always do a lot more'

Kim van Strien, French teacher and chief executive at the AOb, occasionally gives an 'easy blah blah lesson from the book', she admits. “That is not always the best education for the children, but it is better for my own health.” More and more is needed, she experiences after fifteen years of teaching. “Mentorship takes more and more time, also through appropriate education. As a mentor you have to take the lead. Teaching is your core task, but we always do a lot more.” She sees colleagues going from full-time jobs back to 80 percent. “Then they don't have a day off, they have less salary, but they do get their work done.” In the past year she herself had an appointment of 1,1, because there was no extra French teacher at her school. “At the time, I often thought: I am not the teacher I want to be. When I chose this course I had different ideas about how I wanted to deal with children in a class, but you often don't have enough time for that. That's frustrating.”

(The article continues below the image.)

Iris Driessen: “You have to achieve learning goals, but you also have to dare to say no.” Image: Fred van Diem

Workload

Iris Driessen teaches Dutch for 16 hours a week at the Hyperion Lyceum in Amsterdam and is a primary care coordinator. She doesn't experience any real 'work pressure', she says. "But it's busy, of course." She has been teaching for over seventeen years. “Preparing doesn't take me so much time anymore. I see with new colleagues how hard it is to devise and implement new lessons. It's tough for me too, but I'm not so worried anymore, I know I can do it."

She thinks the size of the classes is 'a thing'. “I have an average of 29 children in my class. You have to serve them all personally, differentiate. It saves a sip on a drink, whether it is twenty or thirty, in what is asked of you during an hour. With smaller classes you get to the core more, you can give them more attention and teach better. And whether you have to check twenty or thirty tests, that is a big difference.”

'With smaller classes you get to the core more, you can give them more attention and teach better. And whether you have to check twenty or thirty tests, that is a big difference'

A starter who works part-time is definitely working full-time, she knows. “You have to invent everything. Not only teaching, but also preparing and checking, contact with parents, perhaps mentorship. In that case, good guidance from school is important, but unfortunately this is not available everywhere.” She would always advise starters not to work full-time in education, she says. “But I do understand. Suppose you are a lateral entrant, you have studied for four years. Then it's annoying that you can't start earning what you've hoped for all these years."

Her school has an annual three-day event, the Titans' Battle. “Then there are no classes. I like that: encouraging your class, helping with sports activities. But another experiences it as extra pressure. He or she finds an evening program difficult or finds that students miss teaching material.” But it is part of being a teacher, she thinks. “We are there for the children. They ask more of you than rows of words and math formulas. You are also an educator and part of a community at school.”

on the mat

Autonomy is important, says Iris Driessen: “I experience that. Both from the department and from the school management. Once I decide: they are going to read a book or watch a movie themselves, no one calls me on the mat. We do it to ourselves sometimes, I think. Do you have to get that booklet out, do you have to take and mark six tests a year? You have to achieve learning goals, but you also have to dare to say no. I give myself some freedom in how I do that. As a teacher, it is necessary that you sometimes say no and dare to do things differently. But that is not possible at every school, I realize that. There are, of course, schools where someone demands: that book must be out, despite all the days off at the end of the school year. Then there is of course extra work pressure. I certainly see an important role for school management there.”

The full names of Niels and Jacquelien are known to the editors.

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