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

Respect for Teachers- Media it starts with YOU!

This year has certainly challenged opinions when it comes to education and teachers. It is my hope that it has helped re-establish a much deserved respect for teachers. It would seem that for a while now education has been something that everybody wants a say in, politicians, parents, trades you name it, seem to think they know better than the teachers themselves.

For too long teachers have had to cope constant criticism, excessive hours, highly stressful workplaces and overcrowding in their rooms with little thanks for all their hard work.

I don’t know how many times I’ve even at social events where I’ve had to grit my teeth through cringe worth comments about how teachers get 12 weeks holidays a year, that it’s a easy job, that we’re over paid, and that basically anything to do with our students is our fault.

But all of this has had me thinking about when it was that teachers lost societies respect. When did they become lesser professionals than doctors, engineers, and politician’s. Teachings is one of the oldest professions in the world and should carry with it a high esteem. Most teachers have two degrees, one in their specialised subject and one in education. More so many have gone on to get Masters degrees and Doctorates. They work long hours charged with the education of 30+ children at a time teaching content that it scaffold, adapted, and methodically explained in various learning styles so suit all their students. We can thank them for a society that can read, write, collaborate, socialise, play nice, and say type on computers. They have taught us about sports, music, technology, history, science. They’ve inspired the careers we go into and helped learn how to make friends and work with those we don’t like. They’ve celebrated our achievements and guided us when we’re not doing so well.

So how is it that one of the biggest influences in society- the media- can get away with such poor representation of teachers as a whole?

There are programs dedicated to doctors e.g. Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor. There are shows dedicated to Police: NCIS, Fire Men: Chicago Fire, Lawyers: The Good Fight, Politicians: West Wing, Home renovators-The Block but when was the last time you saw one dedicated to teachers. More so if you did was the teacher portrayed as the hero, the unsung hero, with impeccable skills. Were they portrayed as Meredith Grey with exceptional knowledge and professionalism and maybe a few personality flaws or were they incompetent, unable to control the class or having an affair with a student.

I recently watch an episode of Bluey in which the characters were playing with their Year 6 Buddies. Although the teacher is seen to come over and talk to the students for a short time, for a good chunk of the episode the teacher (Calypso) is seen in the background knitting….Our kindergarten teacher deserve better than to be represented as people that sit around knitting. Early childhood teachers are incredible members of society and certainly don’t have time to veg out when they are charged with their students.

A repeat for teachers and the profession starts with how we talk about them at home. Parents need to support the teachers and not speak badly of them to their kids. But secondly and most importantly the media needs to take responsibility for the characters they write and ensure they do justice to the thousands of teachers that do impeccable work each and every day. Maybe then will they be recognised properly for the hours they work and the skills they have. Maybe then will politicians butt out of their programs and content and allow them the profession courtesy that other professions have. Maybe then parents and society will stop and listen to the professionals. And finally maybe then when discussion education matters on TV Sunrise & the Today show will have actual teachers on their discussion panels to discuss teaching instead of radio hosts and other minor celebs who DO NO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT!

Much love,

Mumma Z xxx