Job sharing, particularly in the field of education, has gained significant traction in recent years as many parents head back into the workforce in a part time capacity after having children. It offers a unique opportunity for teachers to collaborate, pool their skills, and create an enriching learning environment for students. As someone who has had the privilege of sharing a teaching contract and classroom with another educator this year, I’ve discovered that this experience goes beyond simply splitting duties—it’s a journey of personal and professional growth.
About my situation. The school I am currently teaching at is my 6th school, I have an ongoing contract. After the birth of our second son, I stayed home with him for 2 years. As a teacher in Australia, I can have up to 7 years of unpaid family leave. I knew I wanted to return to the classroom but would find a full time contract tricky to navigate. I requested to work part-time, 2 days a week. The school sat down with the other staff requests and matched me up with the school’s Literacy Leader. She has a full time contract, but works 2 days out of the classroom in curriculum development, mentoring teachers, setting up resources, researching and planning special events. As a lover of Maths, being able to work with the Literacy Leader closely was a match made in heaven.
Here are five invaluable lessons I’ve learned through the process of job sharing.
1. Open Communication
The first and foremost lesson I’ve learned from job sharing is the importance of open and honest communication. Effective teamwork depends on clear, transparent discussions about teaching strategies, classroom management, and student progress. Lucky for us our classroom management styles are very similiar anyway, so it is a smooth transition back and forth for the students each week. We completed Y-charts with the students at the start of the year, to show our expectations and refer to them frequently. My co-teacher and I have a google doc that we quickly fill in at the end of the day to let the other teacher know anything important that happened that day. We have 5 columns, General, Planning, Students, Leadership and Awards. Because she is also at school the two days I work, we also try to meet to do planning, discuss any assessment and individual student issues.
2. Respect Each Other
Respect is at the heart of any successful job-sharing arrangement. Both teachers bring their unique perspectives, experiences, and teaching styles to the classroom, and it’s crucial to honor these differences. By respecting each other’s ideas and approaches, my co-teacher and I have created a harmonious learning environment where students feel valued and appreciated. We have taken the best things from my classroom, and the best from hers and put it together. There was enough give and take that we agreed on everything, because we respect each other and their teaching style. We have a strong mutual respect and respect each other in the space. After our days in the classroom, we clean up after ourselves and always leave the classroom in a clean and organised.
3. Flexibility when Job Sharing
Teaching is dynamic, and no two days are exactly the same. Job sharing has taught me the importance of flexibility. While we try to finish everything in our planner on our day, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes we have to pick up an activity at a different place to what we were expecting. Who is the most important in this situation? The students are! So if something isn’t finished, if something needs more work, do it, whether it is your responsibility or not!
4. Highlighting Strengths and Weaknesses in Teaching Style
One of the most enriching aspects of job sharing is the opportunity to observe and learn from a fellow educator’s teaching style. I know I definitely have strengths and weaknesses and I have absolutely learnt so much from her! I know that when I move back to 5 days a week, my literacy skills are going to be the best they have ever been. We recognize each other’s strengths, and we’ve been able to incorporate the best elements of both our teaching styles into our day, creating a more comprehensive and engaging learning experience for our students.
5. Keeping on Top of Planning and Assessment
Effective planning and assessment are essential components of successful teaching. In a job-sharing scenario, it’s crucial to stay organized and maintain consistency. My co-teacher and I have established a shared system for lesson planning, grading, and assessment. If we administered the assessment, we grade the assessment. My co-teacher always plans reading, writing and literacy groups. I plan maths, science and integrated studies. It helps us with consistency, planning assessments and using our data to plan future learning.
Job sharing in education offers a remarkable opportunity for collaboration and personal growth. Through open communication, respect, flexibility, the recognition of teaching strengths and weaknesses, and a commitment to effective planning and assessment, my co-teacher and I have created a dynamic and enriching learning environment for our students. If you’re considering job sharing or currently engaged in it, remember that it’s not just about dividing responsibilities; it’s about coming together to create something greater than the sum of its parts—a truly exceptional learning experience. Feel free to get in touch if you would like discuss this topic further.
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