There’s a ton of buzz among third and fourth-year Education students regarding what “kind” of division to seek employment after finishing their degree.
Teaching Jobs – Public or Private School? As a recent graduate from Education with a focus on elementary instruction, I know that there was quite a bit of nay-saying when it came to conversation around us applying to band and private schools due to their flex in hiring/firing policies, pay scales, questionable pensions, teacher support, etc. I have yet to work in a public school division in my current city due to the insanely uneven ratio of prospective teachers to teaching vacancies – was a wee bit discouraging!
I took myself to a nearby band school after graduating; I first wanted to sample the school as a sub and ended up quite enjoying it. I ended up working more than few times each week and soon landed a contract as a Kindergarten teacher.
Pro’s for me, personally, working in a private/band school environment? Small class sizes, less administrators breathing down your neck about divisional expectations and paperwork, ridiculously awesome staff, great community/parental involvement and support for teachers (okay, mostly), and so much to be learned about First Nations cultural integrations into your instruction as a teacher. My students were wonderful and no two days were ever the same. There’s seems to be a huge misconception that teaching on-reserve is somehow “harder” than off-reserve experiences – whether it be due to language barriers, behaviours, or health concerns with students. Maybe so, if you’ve done both. Or maybe it isn’t necessarily tougher to teach on-rez, but all of these factors in a public system are easier to swallow knowing you at least have job security at the end of each school year.
Now to the con (yep, only one that I can pinpoint) of working in a division or school that is separate from public. Numero UNO – You do not – no matter what your colleagues tell you – have job security. There just isn’t such a thing. You can power teach and be the staff room hero – and last for several years – but let’s face it – no one retires from a private system! When it comes down to it, it’s all about number-crunching and ensuring that less money is spent on salaries and more money shared amongst the community in which the school is situated (or lining the pockets of the big-wigs… you decide!). Even if it isn’t about your own skills or years experience in the profession, jobs can get cut without warning – even if it doesn’t make sense – it can happen and things can be rearranged to “make it work”.
It sounds like a big “duh” that higher qualified teachers would make better money AND would produce a better education for students of the community (and that they’d be well-sought after), right? Well of course, that would be true. But not always most favorable when it comes down to dollars and cents. Sadly, the people who make decisions about education on reserves or on private schooling education committees aren’t necessarily educational professionals, but are community members with a job that isn’t always to serve (what us professionals may think is) the better educational needs of students. In short-form — you cost too much? Piss off a director/committee member/parent? Don’t count on having a job for too much longer.
What do YOU think? Teacher candidates, fellow professionals? Share your experiences with this – I am sure that my experience isn’t necessarily standard, especially among other provinces.