Have You Ever Wondered Why Your Child’s Elementary Teacher Looks So Tired?


The secondary teachers have accepted the contract offered by the Ontario Public School Boards ’ Association; if the English public school teachers were to accept the contract offered to them, here is what the difference would be in working conditions:





Time spent teaching

¾ of the day

7/8 of the day

1/8 of the day


115 hours & 19 minutes per year

Maximum number of different subjects a teacher can be required to teach under normal circumstances.




Time spent on supervision

60 minutes a week

80 minutes a week

20 minutes a week


760 minutes a year


12 hours & 40 minutes

Time required for mandatory access to students outside of teaching time or supervision time (above)


100 minutes a week

3,800 minutes a year


63 hours & 20 minutes a year

Paid time for preparation

260 minutes a week

200 minutes a week

60 minutes a week


38 hours per year


            In other words, elementary teachers (junior kindergarten to grade eight) could be expected to teach four more subjects than their secondary counterparts and would be expected to work almost five and a half weeks longer with over a week less in paid time for preparation.  All of these teachers have two degrees and some have more.  Most of them spend their own time and money upgrading their skills.  Is there a single board where elementary teachers are paid more than secondary teachers?  There are boards where they are paid less: up to $4,000 a year less.

            These are only some of these inequities that elementary teachers want addressed.  They are patient; they recognise that money is a problem and do not ask that money be thrown at the problem, just rejigged.  They do not ask that their colleagues get less.  They only ask for equity.  This is a human rights issue.  What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

                                                S. D. Scaiff






3 responses to “Have You Ever Wondered Why Your Child’s Elementary Teacher Looks So Tired?

  1. Thanks for noting the differences in working conditions between elementary and secondary teachers. I have supply taught from K to 8. Believe me, teaching kindergarten students is one of the most challenging jobs to do. They want and need constant attention from me. They need to change activities about every 20 minutes. When I teach students in grade eight, I can give them a five to ten minute mini-lesson. After, they can work independently for the next 30 to 40 minutes.

    I would like to think that all teachers would be treated the same across the province. However, the province thinks that some teachers deserve better working conditions than others.

  2. One thing I think doesn’t get factored in is the implied complexity of teaching in elementary vs. secondary. Aside from needing to be very good with kids and knowing how to care for them more, I’m betting the subject material in elementary school could be taught by anyone who can read and interpret a textbook better than a child. The curriculum and outline is often a foregone conclusion that’s inherited year to year. So there’s not exactly a lot of critical thinking involved. The compensation for elementary school then is (I think) more based on how effective someone is at being a caretaker and imparter of random knowledge than on how adept someone is in a particular niche. In this way, the 3 subjects vs. 7 really doesn’t matter much. What do I care about teaching 7 30-minute subjects if the groundwork comes straight from the book.

    In highschool, I can see the requirement for some skill. Instead of being a caretaker, you have to be able to lord over a room of people who’re at an age where they’d really rather be anywhere else than listening to some old person (relatively speaking), AND effectively impart difficult subject matter to them in a way that truly helps them learn. Matter of fact, these days nobody fails elementary school. Your performance really doesn’t matter all that much. In highschool, suddenly everything you do falls on a giant ruler where the cutoff line decides whether you go to community college vs. harvard medical/law/etc.

    So, sure, elementary teachers have more hours spec’d that they have to work, but off the books, I think highschool teachers have to put in a lot more prep work.

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