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    job share
    By emme

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    I've been working at a job share for several years, week on, week off. I love that schedule. My very wise principal assigned me the job of listing advantages and disadvantages to her, other staff, children and parents. It was a worthwhile exercise. Then she had me think through each disadvantage to see what I could do to minimalize that. When we met I had all this thought out and the written results with me, and she was then willing to support me with the board. In general the board is willing to try the half time project if the principal is.

    Advantages; two enthusiastic, energized and well rested teachers, both joining committees, taking on projects in the school, attending conferences and school events. In that way the school gets 2 for the price of 1. We agreed to both join school based committees, attend major school functions, (concerts, major field trip, family dance) staff meetings, and of course parent/teacher interviews.

    Children are much less likely to find a personality conflict when they have 2 teachers, there may be one they don't "click" with as well, but the other will make up for that. To ensure that the children bonded with both of us equally, we worked together and team taught for the first week before we started alternating weeks, and we didn't start alternating till we both felt the children were ready for it. By then we were both comforable with the class schedule, knew the kids names, the parents had all met us both, and we had a good handle on how the other teacher worked. Also we both worked the last few days of school, because we both wanted to be there for the special events that went on at year end.

    Two teachers have two sets of skills (ie you play piano, she is a swimming instructor) to offer the school, and subjects they are stronger at (you're a more experienced music teacher, she loves phys ed) so the class got the best teacher for each subject. We each had access to the others stuff - storybooks, room decorations, stamps, stickers, etc.

    I could generally finish a theme or unit in the week, without leaving half- finished projects in her way. Sharing the desk, bulletin board space, etc was easy, as when either left on Friday, we knew what was expected - weekly newsletter done, caught up all marking, made sure the kids desks were cleaned out on Friday, teacher's desk neat and reorganized, put out fresh chalk, washed the classroom cleaning rags, sharpened the lending pencils, watered the plants.

    We agreed on behavior expectations for the children, and made our contract with the class during the time in September that we both were there. When we were on our own, at the end of each day we completed anecdotal notes as to what had happened, so the other started her week "up to date". Also, we met weekly (Thursday for us) to jointly outline the next week's planning. That way we both kept aware of our curriculum based progress and had input into centres, themes, evaluation schedule, etc. You would have to meet much more often on a different schedule, or split the subjects between you. There can also be an issue of balancing your preps and supervision time evenly if you share a day, or work day on/day off.

    Speaking of evaluation, we have to do some of our evaluations one-on-one (grade 1) and so the other partner would come in for an hour or so to do that on her week off. That meant the one working that week didn't have to schedule evaluation during her specials, recess or lunch breaks. And we never fell behind in evaluation.

    Another advantage - we always made our appointments during our week off. However if something was unavoidable during our week, if the other partner was available, we could just switch a day so the kids week went on seamlessly. This doesn't mean we agreed to always be each others sub, but when it was possible we did trade days to our convenience. You don't want one owing the other many days as they become hard to make up. We scheduled in the traded day asap. I was able to travel during my week off (can't travel far with only a day or half day off). One time our flight returned very late Sunday night and we weren't home til like 5 am. I traded the Monday with my teaching partner so I could sleep in, then I worked the next Monday (her week) in return.

    One disadvantage can be in the parents (or kids) perception that one of you is the senior teacher, the other junior. So that's why its important that you both have similar years of experience, and similar confidence levels. You don't have to be the same in your teaching styles, but you need similar behavior expectations, and each has to deal with behavior issues and parent concerns as they come up, not leaving them for the other. You'll have to sit down and agree on issues like how to leave the classroom, what your different responsibilities are, and how you'll share space on shelves and in the desk. Be aware that you'll need to compromise, perhaps things won't entirely be to your liking as some things will have to be to your partners liking. But if you both want this to work, you'll have to work it out together and not run to your principal.

    Also you'll need a plan as to how you'll do report cards. We met to do them together, and it is nice to have two sets of eyes and two opinions when you're writing a report card - usually its a pretty lonely occupation - but working together does make report cards take longer because you have to discuss each child aloud, unlike when you write your own. You do need to work carefully to ensure the wording in the report card suits you both.

    I love working half time, it brought back the joy for me, and the energy. I hope you get to try it. If you are both committed to making it work, it could be great. But do consider requesting week on/week off instead of by the day. It's great.

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