Part-Time Teaching

I’m a Part-time teacher

For many reading that statement it has little impact. But for those of us who work in the Secondary private school system I’m a unicorn. A rarity, a curiosity and everyone has a question about it.

What’s your FTE?

How did you negotiate that?

How many days do you work?

Do you have to attend meetings?

DO you get DOTT time?

I’m happy to share, but the truth of it is that my situation is not ideal.

Although my pay cheque pays me for two days work per week there is an expectation that I answer emails on the other five days of the week. I have very little DOTT time, still have to do duties, and do extra work at home during the week. I’m not alone in my woes. I have colleagues who are told that their required hours on campus on particular days are from 8:15-12:00pm, then they have three hours off which they are not paid for then they are expected to return for an afterschool meeting. I have other colleges who have an FTE of 0.5 (that’s the equivalent of 2.5 days) but those hours are stretched over five days. So, they must come into work every single day. Others have commented how being part-time they are made to feel like lesser employees as through part-time is a ‘dirty’ word. Many have gone to their principals and asked for part-time work to be flat out told that there’s nothing on offer. Even in the situation where they have come up with their own solution to job share with another teacher at the school who is also looking for part-time hours.

You would be stretched to find another private industry that makes it so difficult for its employees to find flexible employments that supports their families, health, and work-life balance.

So why is it such a pretentious issue in Private schools?

Here are just some of the arguments I have heard from Principals:

Shared classes (that is a class taught by one teacher a few lessons a week and another teacher on the remaining days) is detrimental to students learning.

The missing part of the argument though is that shared classes are very common in Secondary schools even with full time teachers. The reason for this is basic mathematics when you construct a timetable sometimes it’s impossible to schedule everyone in perfectly. But shared classes can be amazing, it allows the teachers to play to their strengths and gives students that advantage of having two experts to deliver the learning material. On the flip side they could be detrimental if the two teachers sharing don’t, communicate well, or one of them doesn’t pull their weight.

Teachers take advantage of part-time work and are less committed to their workplaces.

As for teachers taking advantage of being part-time, I don’t really know what that even means. I can only speak for myself when I say I’m more committed and onto of my role because I must be so efficient with my time. I enjoy the flexibility of being able to leave to pick up my children from school and my mental health is better for it.

Part-time teachers cause confusion to administration, parents and students.

Part-timers only cause confusion if there are problems with communication. The more normal we make these working arrangements that better we become at it. Plus, communications issues can happen no matter what role of FTE you have, it’s a separate skill.

Secondary Private school staffing that is predominantly full time is an advantage over the government school system.

In what way? There is very little research to suggest that having more full-time teaching staff than part-time staff gives you an advantage. If the argument is about shared classes, refer to what I said above about that issue. More people, more skills, talents, and wisdom.  More staff getting the work-life balance they seek= better staff wellbeing.

This last year has forced so many industries to rethink the flexibility they offer their staff. It’s time that secondary private school systems did the same. If you want to attract the best teachers and keep them, you need to offer them the best working conditions.

Mumma Z xx

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