Navigating the Waters of Teacher Workload: A Personal Reflection

by Jake Madden

Throughout my journey in the education sector, which spans several enriching years, I’ve come face to face with the escalating challenge of teacher workload—a dilemma that’s not just a statistic but a lived reality impacting educators’ wellbeing and student outcomes across the globe. Drawing from a wealth of data, including insights from TALIS, TES Wellbeing reports, and the latest I-BEST findings from 2023, one thing stands starkly clear: our teachers are dedicating upwards of 40-50 hours a week to their roles, with an overwhelming portion of this time swallowed by administrative demands. Observing industrial actions unfurl in various corners of the world, as teachers stand in solidarity for lighter workloads, fair compensation, and the recognition they so deeply deserve, I can’t help but feel a profound sense of solidarity. And, truth be told, their demands are nothing short of justifiable.

The conversation around workload isn’t just professional; it’s profoundly personal, echoing through the corridors of social media where educators gather to voice their struggles. They share stories of the relentless pressure and the daunting volume of demands placed upon them—a narrative that, despite efforts from educational and governmental bodies to offer solutions, remains tinged with concern. The fear, as highlighted by researchers like Stacy and colleagues, is that these well-intended solutions might miss the mark, exacerbating the very issues they aim to solve.

At Aoba, the dialogue around reducing administrative tasks versus the intrinsic value of lesson planning and curriculum development presents an ongoing debate. Our educators don’t see lesson planning as a chore but as the essence of their vocation, offering moments of intellectual fulfillment and joy. Our commitment has been to lean into the promise of educational technology, streamline processes, and champion initiatives that not only alleviate administrative burdens but also cultivate a culture of support and understanding.

Looking ahead, Aoba is committed to crafting strategies that fully honor the complexity of teaching. It’s about seeing beyond the surface, recognizing the deep-seated passion our teachers have for their craft, and ensuring we don’t trivialize their expertise. While we strive to lighten their load, particularly around administrative tasks, it’s crucial that our efforts foster a supportive environment that resonates with their core values and professional identity.

Our mission extends beyond simply addressing workload; it’s about nurturing a teaching profession that’s sustainable, fulfilling, and revered. By finding a delicate balance between reducing administrative burdens and valuing our educators’ professional depth, we aspire to not just solve an immediate issue but to enrich the teaching landscape for generations to come. This is a journey of respect, understanding, and, most importantly, listening to the very heartbeat of our educational community


Jake Madden is Group Head of Aoba International Education Systems, Japan

To connect with Jake on LinkedIn, click here

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