“Just a few days before I started teaching in Helsinki, I met with my principal in her office, where she printed out my new teaching schedule. As I grasped that piece of paper, I struggled to believe what I was hearing for the first time: My full-time workload, reflecting a typical arrangement for other elementary teachers in Finland, would require only 18 hours of weekly classroom instruction. Not only that, but I’d have several 15-minute breaks sprinkled throughout each school day, which I could typically use flexibly (while my students played outside, supervised by a rotating team of teachers).

This Helsinki timetable was a significant departure from my previous teaching schedule, but in Finland, where teachers have relatively fewer instructional hours compared to their international peers, it wasn’t exceptional. At my American school, I would usually spend an additional 10 hours instructing my students each week…”

Read my newest Atlantic story, “The Ticking Clock of Teacher Burnout,” HERE!