I have been working as part of a job share now for two and a half years. I’m still finding my feet with it but am writing this in the hope to help others who are thinking about it or starting. At the end of my first full year job sharing I blogged about how it had gone http://mrshalford.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/challenges-of-job.html
I have really enjoyed this year- no irony in that statement at all. Even with a large class (35 at times) with the huge pile of marking, extra parent sessions, reports… There is so much in the press about teachers leaving the profession http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2013/aug/01/why-are-teachers-leaving-education Working part time for me has been the most positive step I have taken in my teaching career for some time.
So, what works well in our class? Key has to be the communication. I have read about some teachers who are lucky to have some time each week when they are both in the class. Budgetary constraints don’t allow that at my school, but we do talk.
And some more!
We keep a book (filled two this year) in which we leave copious notes for each other. We talk on the phone at least twice a week. Oh yes, emails too! And the odd text. Without that level of communication I can’t see how it could work effectively. All the children and their parents know how regularly we talk about the class and this has helped us to build strong and positive relationships. In an ideal world we would have one TA in the class who could be a consistent presence, but there are two of them as well! One works Monday and Friday, the other the middle part of the week.
We are very different in our personalities, in our teaching styles, in our interests. But what we share is our passion for teaching, for helping children to achieve their potential, to build their confidence and self esteem, to enable them to believe in themselves and to be proud of themselves, our class, our school. We work in a school with a really well put together behaviour policy, that helps too.
When it comes to how we plan and deliver the curriculum that has been a constantly evolving process. Some subjects are split between us which works well. Maths and English (I know the terms are Literacy and Numeracy but I have a pet hate for those and insist on calling them maths and English !) Anyway, for the English this year I taught the majority of the genre work while my partner concentrated on the SPaG. This was commented on favourably by the subject leader during the course of the year through lesson observations and book moderation. We made good use of AFL so that areas that came up in my teaching needing reinforcement could be covered discretely and I would have a “zero tolerance” approach for the focus area each week. With the increased emphasis on SPaG we will definitely be carrying on with this next year. Of course there are also lots of opportunities for writing across the curriculum and we follow the Pie Corbett approach to non fiction writing and include all 6 areas each year so these are split between us. http://www.talk4writing.com/index.html
Maths has been much more of a challenge. In the first year of job sharing we started by splitting the curriculum so that I did all the number work and my partner did all the shape,space, measure, data. This worked fairly well but my partner felt that she didn’t have enough knowledge of their ability in number. We then tried to work as one teacher with one of us leaving plans for the other. It was a nice idea but planning for each other was very time consuming. This year we used the unit plans from the strategy and split the five units between us each term so that over the course of the yer we had both taught everything. This worked fairly well but is not the most consistent way for the children who would be doing one area Mon/Tues and another on Weds-Fri.
How are we going to organise it for this year? Not totally sure at the moment. Progress in maths was less than it was for reading and writing which would indicate that we need to look at how we are planning and teaching the subject. There have been some interesting ideas on twitter about planning the maths (http://www.broadbentmaths.com/) Having asked the twittersphere’s opinions it seems that the number/everything else split is the most popular…
Why am I blogging about this? Partly to share what has worked well, partly to find out how others are making their job shares work well. It’s a constantly evolving process. Being able to communicate well, trust each other, share similar values are all key points. Most classes have at least one teacher with PPA cover so job sharing is more common than one might initially think. Having someone who knows the children as well as you is a real bonus.
Challenge for next year is to get on top of the maths and be as effective as we possibly can. Anyone who has any tips to share please do so.