Thursday, January 10, 2013

Working Part-time and Sharing a Class

Since my return to work at the end of 2011, I have been working part-time - initially three days, and then four days. Today I want to reflect on my experiences as the fill-in person, and also sharing responsibility of a class.

When I worked three days I was the fill-in person for a Year 3 class, a Year 5/6 class and a Kindergarten class. By "fill-in" I mean the main teacher of the class had them four days in the week and then I did their fifth days either because they worked part-time or because they were acting in a higher duties role. I wasn't required to do much planning for these lessons, but rather just taught and marked book work. For the most part I was given the desired outcomes and sometimes a whole lesson plan. It was a good way to ease back into teaching and to regain confidence in my ability to teach. (I can't believe how much confidence I lost in my ability to do anything but mother - and after only one year!) On the downside, I didn't really build relationships with the kids and I didn't feel excited about what I was teaching - essentially it was someone else's idea.

Key things that help when filling-in

  • speak to the teacher in advance to assist with planning lessons (and thus not over-planning)
  • find ways to present the lesson in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable to you
  • make sure you mark all the work students complete - it is not fair to leave this for their usual teacher
  • use strong behaviour management techniques to avoid students taking advantage of you
  • get to know the students' names quickly and forge relationships where possible

Sharing a Class
In 2012 I worked three days on a Year 4 class sharing with a great teacher and one day on Preschool (2 classes for a half-day each). The shared responsibility on the Year 4 class was such that we split the role as fairly and sensibly as possible. I taught the Maths, ICT and Integrated Inquiry lessons on my days and my co-teacher taught spelling, handwriting, music and art on her days. We both taught reading groups. Splitting the subject areas made it easier for assessing and reporting as well. One thing that made communication easier for us was that my co-teacher was working full time in the school, so I could catch up with her on my days to keep up with what was going on. Something I struggled with, was that I often felt that I wasn't pulling my weight. When I'm the one responsible for completing everything, I get it done - sometimes right before the deadline. My co-teacher however, likes to keep ahead of the game and thus if I hadn't done it yet, she would. I have issues with other people doing my work for me, so I found it hard! I don't like to burden others with my procrastination!

Key things that help when sharing a class:

  • divide up the administrative workload so each knows what is expected and when
  • communicate - in person where possible, through email, or in a communication book
  • try to avoid teaching the other teacher's follow up lesson or leaving the follow-up for the other teacher 
  • be prepared to compromise - neither of you can run the classroom entirely they way you would on your own
  • leave the desk/classroom tidy at the end of the day - perhaps have just one pile on the desk for books/papers that are being used regularly, share shelf space for resources.
  • mark and assess on the work you teach
  • meet with parents together as much as possible so that each knows what has been discussed and can contribute own perspective

So for 2013 I have been given four days on the one class, with another teacher doing my fifth day. I'm really looking forward to being the main teacher responsible for the class including full reports, parent contact etc. I'm planning to leave the "fill-in" teacher with journal, handwriting, and other subjects that require minimal assessment/reporting. I'm really looking forward to diving back into it all.

What experiences have others had when working part time or sharing a class?

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