Are you pondering part-time teaching?
Are you exhausted from the full-time grind and ready to scale back and breathe?
Are you trying to secure part-time teaching but frustratingly can’t getting your foot in the door?
I can’t claim that I’ve successfully landed a part-time teaching position, but I’ve been a principal who has supported and employed part-time teachers for years. So the tips that follow are from the perspective of the employer.
Just for a minute consider being in your future boss’s shoes. Have you got a mental picture of stilettos? Great. Hold that thought.
Now consider part-time teaching jobs in schools. They fall into one of two categories. Either regular classroom teaching or specialised teaching.
Regular classroom teaching is just that. A teacher with a class group for any number of days in the week, typically in early education, primary and middle school settings. This category is always going to require a job sharing situation. If you are not teaching the class full time, someone else has to work with you.
My experience and personal opinion is, it always works better if the partners come together on their own initiative, rather than a forced partnership in trying to get the staffing to fit. That’s not to say that a forced partnership can’t work, but compatibility and commitment are huge factors for success.
(You might be thinking, “That’s nice, I can’t get a part-time job, let alone work with someone I’m compatible with.” But stick with me here.)
I’m using the category ‘specialised teaching’ for everything else. This would include teachers with a specialist subject area, such as music, physical education or languages who teach whole classes, but can have a teaching load and timetable designed to accommodate the number of days they work each week. Also in this category are specialist teachers who work with individuals, small groups or provide support for classroom teachers in targeted areas like literacy and numeracy. These teachers attract all sorts of job titles like learning support, special education, intervention or extension teachers. There are also positions which may involve curriculum leadership or coaching functions. In short a specialised teaching position can be designed and held autonomously by one person for any number of days in the week.
One more factor to understand is that many part-time positions are school funded and therefore operate as casual contracts. Where the positions are permanent part-time it is often the case that a permanent full-time employee has requested part-time work and the position has been cleverly crafted to suit or been offered when the vacancy has become available. There is a requirement (certainly in my state) to accommodate existing permanent employees first, before additional staff can be employed. Does that make sense?
The short story is, if you are currently in a permanent position, (in my state) you would be in the prime position to achieve a part-time role if it is organisationally convenient and supported by the principal.
So with that information, how do you get a part-time job?
Well here’s five things I would try knowing how it works from the employers perspective. These may seem a little unconventional but give it a go, none-the-less.
1. If your goal is job sharing a classroom teaching position, find another teaching colleague who is also interested in part-time teaching (who you are compatible with) and put yourselves forward as a ‘package deal’. Being treated as a team equivalent to one full-time teacher is easier to fit into the staffing mix to allocate classes than trying to place a part-time individual with no idea how they will match with any existing teachers.
2. Work out which category of part-time teaching suits you. Review your resume to emphasis your knowledge, skills and experience. Here’s the irony though, if you think you have demonstrated expertise to do either general classroom teaching or a specialised role, you are on a winner. The broader your options, the more chance of fitting into a gap when it becomes available.
3. Decide where you want to teach and do the rounds to market yourself as a part-time teacher. Don’t be concerned that there is no ‘advertised vacancy’. What you are doing is planting a seed by providing a solution to a problem before it happens. You want your future boss to know you are eager and available to work in a part-time capacity should a vacancy arrive in the future. When the 2 day a week teacher leaves to have her second baby, the principal will be remembering and ringing you to fill the vacancy.
4. Communicate what you want and consider your timing. If you are in a full time position and want to reduce to part-time it would be wise to let your principal know in advance of when staffing decisions are made. In Australia the peak time would be August to September as staffing arrangements are worked through October and November in preparation for the new school year. Having said that, I’ve had staff communicate their preferences earlier in the year and surprising things have happened in July.
5. If you have the capacity to do relief days or substitute teaching, get your name on the list at your preferred schools. Many part-time teachers I have employed started as casual substitute teachers, who have demonstrated their capability and ‘fit’ in the school. This has led to offers for longer term contracts and then finally qualifying for permanent employment. Often it is a case of who you know or who knows you.
I hope this information and suggested strategies help you successfully land a part-time job. If you bite the bullet and try them, please tell me about it in the comments.
Do you have any experience in finding part-time teaching positions? Do you have an unconventional strategy that works? You can also share them in the comments as well.