Perspectives

Work-life balance: teachers identify four key areas

By Myles Ellis and Richard Riel
October 27, 2014

Over 8,000 Canadian teachers responded to a CTF Survey on the Quest for Teacher Work-Life Balance conducted online between February 24 and March 26, 2014. These teachers were asked to select their four top priority areas, among 14 examined issues (see Chart 1), that they feel would improve their work-life balance and enable them to become a more effective teacher. The issues reported by teachers have either a direct or an indirect impact on students in the classroom and the quality of the education they receive.

Although all 14 issues examined are important, total scores from the survey reveal that teachers ranked reducing class sizes, improving support for children with special educational needs, increasing time available for planning and preparation, and reducing non-teaching demands (administration and paperwork) as their top four priority areas. The total score is an overall weighted calculation1 that takes into account the rankings respectively allocated by surveyed teachers to each examined priority area, with items ranked first receiving higher total scores and being valued higher than subsequent ranks with lower total scores.

When we examine the percentage of teachers surveyed who reported an area among their top four priorities respectively, 3 in 10 teachers surveyed ranked reducing class sizes as the top priority they feel would improve their work-life balance and enable them to become a more effective teacher. As shown in Chart 2, 22.5% of respondents ranked improving support for children with special educational needs as their top priority, followed by 17.3% who reported increasing time available for planning and preparation, and 8.7% who indicated reducing non-teaching demands (administration and paperwork).

It should be noted that the total percentage of individuals ranking a given issue as one of their top four priority areas may reveal a different ranking from the ranking based on the total score method. This is due to the fact that an issue ranked as higher priority is given more weight in the total score method. For example, 56.7% of teachers surveyed consider improving support for children with special educational needs as one of their top four priorities. In comparison, reducing class sizes, which received the highest overall score, had 53.2% of respondents indicating it as a top 4 priority area. For the purposes of this article, the 7 priority areas with their percentage shares appearing in chart 2 are reported in the same order as in Chart 1 which ranks the results based on total scores for overall teacher responses.

Chart 1. Top Priority Areas Among 14 Surveyed Issues that Teachers Feel Would Improve their Work-Life Balance and Enable them to Become More Effective

(Rank and Total Score1 of responses to the question: Select the four top priority areas that you feel would improve your work-life balance and enable you to become a more effective teacher).

Top priorities

1 The total score is an overall weighted calculation that takes into account the rankings respectively allocated by surveyed teachers to each examined priority area. Items ranked first received higher total scores and are valued higher than subsequent ranks with lower total scores. Given that the question is based on top 4 priorities, an issue ranked by a respondents as #1 gets a score of 4, while an item ranked 2nd gets a score of 3, an item ranked 3rd gets a score of 2 and an item ranked 4th gets a score of 1. The total score is the sum of all weighted rank counts. The total score is used to determine the overall ranking for each priority.

Chart 2. Share of Respondents Reporting Examined Issues Among Top 4 Priority Areas to Improve Work-Life Balance and Become a More Effective Teacher

Percentage Shares for 7 Priority Areas with Highest Overall Scores2

Percentage Shares for 7 Priorities

2 See Chart 1 for overall scores and footnote 1 for that chart for more information.
3 Through Professional Learning Communities for example.

Myles Ellis is the Acting Deputy Secretary General and Richard Riel is a Researcher, both at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

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Perspectives web magazine is published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent over 238,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada.

Editor In Chief: Francine Filion | Translation and Editing: Marie‑Caroline Uhel and Marie‑Hélène Larrue
Proofreading: Denise Léger
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