Ok, so I’m generalising. Just as there will be anomalies with anything, there will be instances where teacher job shares are not so great.
But, in my experience they are brilliant.
They are often seen as the less favourable option for head teachers and parents alike who are worried about consistency for the children.
But as long as there is good communication, job share teachers are a fantastically positive thing for teachers, support staff, employers, parents and children:
• Productivity. Job share teachers often go above and beyond the 50% (or whatever percentage) of the workload they are employed to do. Often, instead of sharing or halving a task, job share teachers will take on extra because one member will do one task and the other will do another one. They often do work on their week days off too; maybe snatching a couple of hours whilst their baby naps. This is their day off – and yet they are working from home.
• Enthusiasm. I am not ashamed to admit that when I taught full time, Wednesday afternoons and Thursdays were often quite low key for me because, basically, I was shattered. No matter what your job, I imagine you can relate to this. Monday is a fresh new day and Tuesday is similar. Then Friday is, well, Friday. The bonus you get with a job share is that, for one of the teachers, it is always Monday, Tuesday or Friday (it’s either their first, second or last working day of the week) and you get the accompanying levels of enthusiasm every day.
• Adaptability. Children have to learn this. It is key to being a successful adult and is a key aspect of the Early Years curriculum. By having job share teachers, children are automatically adapting to routines, people and different approaches to teaching and learning without even really trying.
• Positive relationships. We don’t always ‘gel’ with everyone we meet in life. Children, parents and support staff are not going to gel with every teacher they work with. Job shares offer different dynamics which can be a fantastic tool for improved relationships between parents, children and other staff members.
• Consistency. Yes I know this sounds ridiculous but hear me out. Teachers are sometimes unwell. They sometimes have dependents who are unwell. This means that sometimes they need time off work. Sometimes for a week. Maybe two weeks. Sometimes longer. In these instances, a supply teacher will often cover the class; a teacher who does not know the children, the parents or the other staff. The bonus you have with a job share is that, halfway through the week, you get a consistent teacher back in the classroom. You have someone who knows the children and everyone else and who can likely teach them more effectively than someone who is not familiar with them and their needs.
So don’t freak out if your child gets a job share team. Even if you’ve had a bad experience of one before. I have taught children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders as a job share. I have taught children with emotional and behavioural difficulties as a job share. And they have all thrived in those situations.
Two heads sometimes really are better than one.
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