A month before Oliver started Kindergarten, we had moved to a different city, changed school twice, left tons of friends, familiarity and comfort. Days before the move he started voicing his worries and developed a stress eye twitch. We were struggling. I took him into his new school on Meet Your Teacher night, our sweaty hands squeezed tight. We saw Mrs. Nguyen and all our emotional concerns melted away. She had it together, and I knew she would take care of my Ollie. I later found she’d take care of me too.
Through Ollie’s year, Mrs. Nguyen and I had many conversations. One of the most impactful was during a parent-teacher conference, she asked if I planned to work when I had my second; I was pregnant at the time and referenced I had primarily stayed home with Oliver. She discussed her experience as a job share teacher. Her testimony swayed me, making me think of other options to be more present with both of my kiddos while continuing to progress in my career. I interviewed her to get more information on the work option.
First things first: How does the whole job share situation work?
Here is Mrs. Nguyen’s step by step:
1. Apply for a Job Share position through the district, then you’ll be sent a spreadsheet of all teachers including the percentage they want to work highlighting their job share availability.
2. Once you have your list of job share teachers, you will reach out to them and request a meeting.
3. Set up a time to meet the teacher AND see the classroom. Mrs. Nguyen states, “I wanted to be sure it was someone I could work with and the climate of the school would be a good fit for me.” GOOD TIP!
4. If it’s a good teacher/teacher fit, set up a schedule that works for both of you. Mrs. Nguyen recalls that in most cases you arrange between the two of you and send it to HR and Principal for approval.
5. To finalize-the job share requestee must know that benefits only go to one of the teachers and the position is held by the senior teacher; therefore, the added job share teacher could not bump the senior teacher out, she’d have to wait for another opening if she/he wants to go full- time.
Perks of Jobshare
“The Jobshare prepared me to reenter the workforce after being out for 5 years.”
Making the decision to take a break from work boosts baby bonding and increases your knowledge of child development, organization, community, networking, research, multi-tasking and a whole host of other marketable skills. Many mamas don’t realize they are boosting professional skills during their time away, regardless of the amount of time, from the more traditional professional development settings. This yields anxiety when women decide to return to work. Caitlyn Collins finds in her intercontinental, longitudinal research that the U.S. produces the most stressed and guilt-ridden mothers compared to other countries (2019) . For Mrs. Nguyen, teaching in a jobshare schedule gave her the opportunity to partner with a veteran teacher who uplifted her confidence while she prepared for her return to work. She recalls on the first day, “Of course it all came flooding back right on the first day, but having that support really helped give me the confidence to come back to teaching.” Mrs. Nguyen continued to use the support of her co-teacher in presenting new programs that had been introduced during her leave.
“I always felt happy to come to work and refreshed for my days.”
Easing back into work can help you to compartmentalize your work and home life. You may find that on your days at home you are more present with your child, and while at work you are more focused. This may be a point to share with your employer as a reason to support job share in your work-place. In Mrs. Nguyen's case, the time away gave her more time to plan and feel prepared when she returned to work. The partnership enabled her to bring her best self to the classroom each day, which stuck with her through her current career. Thus conjures the question: If we are more patient with ourselves and ease into work after having a baby, will that make us better professionals and parents in the future?
You many have considered job share or another flex-work position but opted out due to assuming that the pay wouldn’t equate to the amount spent on childcare. I’ve done the same. Mrs. Nguyen discussed the pay and benefits are up to discussion between the teachers. She states, “…you can basically decide what you want your salary to be based on days worked, pay varies widely.” As previously mentioned, the teacher’s benefits package is solely provided for the veteran teacher. In some cases this isn’t an issue because mothers and children may opt to fall under their husband’s employee benefits; alternatively, if you are using your job share wages to pay for childcare and insurance you may not contribute to your family’s financial pot in the way you want. This conundrum is definitely a topic to discuss with your family with a break-down analysis of your budget prior to its pursuit.
Mrs. Nguyen also considers her non-paid prep time. “I felt like I was at school every day and spent a lot of time working for free because I wanted to be prepared for my workdays. I only worked two days, so I got 40% of my paycheck whether I came in to plan on my own time or not. Ultimately it made sense for me to go full time.” This is an important point to consider as well. It’s no secret that a teacher’s job does not end once the bell rings. Finding ways to complete grading, prep, planning and parent communication outside of the childcare cost time frame will be a tricky undertaking but can be done; strategizing ways to complete as much as possible during your workday could be your biggest challenge when participating in a job share position.
Ultimately, Mrs. Nguyen says, “I appreciated the time I was able to be home with my youngest without feeling guilty that the professional world was passing me by. It was absolutely one of the best decisions for my family and myself!” Her satisfaction in the opportunity to fulfill her desire to work while achieving the motherhood goals she set forth for herself makes her an incredible cornerstone in our school.
Job share is an option in various industries. Check out these job share-specific job boards:
Thanks so Mrs. Nguyen for sharing her incredible insight! I’d love to hear your experience with a job share position. Post below.