Survey Shows Majority of K-12 Educators Dedicate Extra Time to Their Jobs Year-round, Love ‘Lightbulb’ Moments, and Worry About Retirement

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Most educators spend summer ‘vacation’ focused on their job and invest more than five extra hours a week during school year to help students succeed, according to a survey conducted by LifeChanger of the Year and National Life Group

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I devote most of my extra time to my school not because I have to, but because I truly want to.

The majority of K-12 educators and school employees spent a significant portion of their summer break continuing to work at their job or preparing for the upcoming school year, according to a survey conducted by LifeChanger of the Year and National Life Group.

More than 80% of all respondents indicated that they planned to dedicate at least part of the summer months to their job. Eighty-nine percent said they would continue to work at school, 88% expected to spend time preparing for next school year and 82% planned to participate in professional development activities related to their current position.

Respondents planned to spend nearly half (48%) of their time during the summer on these work-related activities while spending just 29% of their time on leisure activities. Other activities included volunteering (8%) and seasonal work not related to their education career (7%).

Dedicated to success and the ‘lightbulb’ moments
During the school year, 72 percent of educators say they invest more than five extra hours per week beyond the requirements of their job. When asked what makes them successful, educators top responses, in order, were 1) a desire to teach/help others, 2) patience, 3) empathy, 4) passion for the subject matter, and 5) a commitment to lifelong learning.

Comments from respondents indicate the high degree of dedication teachers have for their jobs and their students:

“I spend every weekend at school! I arrive to school two hours before students and many other teachers and stay after as well. I devote most of my extra time to my school not because I have to, but because I truly want to.”

“Many days throughout the week and on the weekend, I took time out of my spare time to work on things that would help in my classroom,” How many hours, I truly cannot say, but I have found that as an educator, my job does not end when the bell rings at the end of the day.”

When asked what they love most about being a teacher, administrator or employee in a K-12 school district, many respondents referred to what they call “lightbulb” moments when students make an academic breakthrough or become excited or inspired by what they are learning.

“My greatest joy comes from the happiness I see on my students' faces when they are engaged in meaningful learning and enjoying it...that moment when they realize they're learning something new that interests them, and it sparks their desire to learn more! I love having the opportunity to provide these meaningful experiences for students.”

“There are so many things I love about being a teacher! A few of my students have become teachers themselves and I've mentored them. It is a special time when one of my former students tells me that they remember something that happened over 20+ years ago... when they remember that ‘I’ taught them how to read, how to sing a song - when they tell ‘me’ I remember that you never gave up on us... that is truly special!”

“Watching the ‘light bulb’ moments in a child's education is so amazing!”

Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher
The majority of respondents had more than 10 years of experience in education, with 40 percent having more than 20 years. Ninety-three percent said they would spend the rest of their career in education, with 63 percent planning to work past the age of 60 and 24 percent past the age of 65.

Many respondents indicated that, even after retirement, they would continue to work in education-related roles such as training/mentoring new teachers, consulting or volunteering in a school setting.

Worried about Retirement
When asked about retirement, top planned activities included travel, volunteering and working in a different role with 41 percent saying their greatest fear is not having enough money. Beyond financial concerns, educators worry about losing relationships with students and colleagues and being bored.

“I have been with the district for 26 years plus 5 years of being a substitute. I have built many relationships and, of course, [I worry about] having enough money.”

“Teaching has defined me in many ways and I think losing relationships at school is a concern.”

“[I worry about] feeling as though I'm not fulfilling a purpose every day.”

Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, the national LifeChanger of the Year program recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 public and private school educators and employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.

This year, seventeen LifeChanger of the Year nominees will be selected to win a cash prize, including a $10,000 National Grand Prize. Winners are chosen by a selection committee comprised of former winners and education professionals and announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The top five winners will also be honored at a national awards ceremony in Bermuda. Winners will be announced in Spring 2018.

Nominations for the 2017-18 school year are now open. To nominate an educator or to learn more about the program, visit

To view the complete survey results and download and share the infographic, go to:

The survey was conducted online during July and August 2017. Responses where received from 343 K-12 teachers, administrators and school employees from all regions of the U.S.

At National Life, our story is simple: For more than 168 years we’ve worked hard to deliver on our promises to millions of people with our vision of providing peace of mind in times of need. It’s our cause, stemming from a deep passion to live our values to do good, be good and make good, every day. Learn more at

National Life Group® is a trade name of National Life Insurance Company, founded in Montpelier, Vt., in 1848, Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, Addison, Texas, chartered in 1955, and their affiliates. Each company of National Life Group is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest is not an authorized insurer in New York and does not conduct insurance business in New York.

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Mallorie Manosh
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