Job sharing is a funny relationship with constant text messages, emails and phone calls flying back and forth. You share so many things, a desk, classroom and most importantly a class of children. However, some job share partners rarely see each other face to face. With an increasing amount of teachers working part time, job sharing is the kind of relationship you need to make sure works.

I would never call myself an expert in anything but since I have been part of various job share teams since my daughter was born 10 years ago, I feel I know what can make that unique relationship work. I have actually had 7 job share partners, all different personalities, and I can honestly say I have learnt from each and everyone one of them. Sharing ideas about lessons, strategies to support children with special educational needs and classroom management are a few of the ideas you can bounce off each other.

Communication

The key to a great relationship is communication. You have to let each other know everything, from the quick conversation with a parent one morning, to bringing a particular document to the next staff meeting, otherwise the other person will be left in the dark. There is nothing worse than trying to act like you know what someone is talking about, when you actually have no idea. How you do this is up to both of you- whether it is a communication book left in the top drawer of your desk or email, whatever works best for you. You just need to develop a system that works. Confidentiality is also vital as information about children needs to be kept so no-one else can access this, only using a child’s initials could be one possible answer.

My favourite line to use with a child is ‘Wait until I tell Mrs… about that fantastic piece of writing.’ This has an enormous impact as the children know you talk and more importantly that both of you care. It can work in the opposite way too, by informing the class you will let the other teacher know when something negative happens (as long as this isn’t over used).

Dividing the workload

Planning… this needs careful consideration otherwise workload and stress can dramatically increase. One option is dividing subjects up so you both have your separate planning and marking to concentrate on. Even maths and English can be divided up into topics, for example one person teaches numbers while the other teaches shape and measure. This allows a thorough understanding of exactly where the children are in their learning in each particular aspect, however it does still mean you need to communicate about the children’s learning, for example there is no point one of you teaching ‘finding the area of shapes’ if the other teacher has not covered multiplication yet.

Another option could be to divide the subjects and plan for each other, for example one teacher plans English and the other teacher plans maths. This method allows flow of each subject throughout the week, but needs excellent communication to discuss how the children are progressing. It also requires flexibility if the planning changes, because maybe on Wednesday the children have not fully grasped equivalent fractions so this will need going over before considering starting adding and subtracting fractions.

With foundation subjects play to your strengths, one example is when I shared a class with someone who was amazing at teaching PE, she taught this and I taught science, which is my specialist. We both benefitted from this as well as the children. Other aspects of the job need sharing too, for example displays, reports, the list goes on. Again communication is the key.

Consistency

Finally and probably the hardest – consistency. This is so important otherwise the children will have to transform into chameleons once a week, changing the way they behave, alter expectations and how they carry out even basic routines. For example take the start and end of day. If one of you prefers the children to collect all their belongings from the cloakroom then return to the classroom before the end of school day, but the other teacher prefers the children to collect their coats and bags on their way out of school, this can result in confusion. It is best to decide routines together, to show the children you are a team working together. Best advice is if you both expect the best from the children in every aspect, hopefully the children will get the message.

I am not naive, job sharing is not always easy, yes the children will probably call you by the other teacher’s name, yes at times your partner might do something that irritates you, but as I look back at the wonderful teachers I have worked with I feel proud of what we have achieved as a team. I always say to the children ‘You are getting two great teachers for the price of one’.

And when you actually do manage to spend time with your job share partner, I usually find that both of you never stop talking, it’s like catching up with a friend who you haven’t seen in ages, someone who knows the children as well as yourself, sharing funny stories or picking their brains. It’s a great team to be in.

Read more by Helen at https://learnmesummat.wordpress.com/ 

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