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Blurred Boundaries: A Day in the Life of a Teacher

aAmerican University, USA
bSt Catherine University, USA

Time Use in Economics

ISBN: 978-1-83753-605-4, eISBN: 978-1-83753-604-7

Publication date: 14 December 2023


The burnout, stress, and work-life balance challenges faced by teachers have received renewed interest due to the myriad disruptions and changes to K-12 schooling brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even prior to the pandemic, relatively little was known about teachers' time use outside of the classroom, the blurring of work and home boundaries, and how teachers compare to similar professionals in these regards. We use daily time-diary data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) for 3,168 teachers and 1,886 professionals in similarly prosocial occupations from 2003 to 2019 to examine occupational differences in time use. Compared to observationally similar non-teachers, teachers spend significantly more time volunteering at their workplace and completing work outside the workplace during the school year. On average, teachers spend 19 more minutes working outside of the workplace on weekdays than observably similar non-teachers and 38 more minutes on weekends. The weekend disparity is particularly large among secondary school teachers. This suggests that before the widespread switch to online and hybrid learning necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers were already navigating blurrier work-life boundaries than their counterparts in similar professions. This has important implications for teacher turnover and for the effectiveness and wellness of teachers who remain in the profession.




The authors thank participants at the 2022 IATUR Conference, the editors, and two anonymous reviewers for providing helpful feedback and suggestions.


Gibney, V.H., West, K.L. and Gershenson, S. (2023), "Blurred Boundaries: A Day in the Life of a Teacher", Hamermesh, D.S. and Polachek, S.W. (Ed.) Time Use in Economics (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 51), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 247-275.



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