If you have experience teaching public school but are now starting at a private school for the first time, congratulations! As the head of a private primary school, I wish you your most purposeful, fulfilling, and team-oriented teaching job yet.
Here are some tips for making the transition.
Decide in advance what life mission you are personally committed to, and choose a school with a compatible mission. Many public schools have little “mission” at all, beyond the unspoken rule of encouraging students to work hard, get good grades, and move up in life. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but it has limited value for application to any student’s—or teacher’s—individual life mission. Private schools are more specific and expect all staff to be fully committed, whether the actual mission focuses on a cultural or religious heritage, student self-actualization, or careers in a specific field.
Be prepared to budget for a pay cut. Illogical as it seems, schools with paid tuition often offer lower, not higher, salaries than public schools. One reason is that private schools rely on private funding; another is that they invest more of that funding in education and classroom resources. If you plan to teach in a private school, do it not for money but for love (ultimately more rewarding, anyway).
Get your creative skills and initiative warmed up. Count on receiving less direction focused on “standardized” testing: where “standards” are concentrated at the individual-school level, teachers have far more individual responsibility for planning the curricula. This is blessedly freeing, but it can also be overwhelming at first. Before your first term starts, get a jump on planning (and spare yourself future overload shock): study the school’s mission and past successes, note what about public-school teaching you found most innovative and most stifling, and set well-defined goals for your upcoming classes. (Remember to emphasize problem-solving, teamwork, and other skills that will help your students grow into well-rounded contributors to society.)
Offer your students all the participation opportunities you can. You’ll likely find that students are surprisingly eager to participate: unlike public-school kids who too often come because they “have to,” private-school students often work hard to qualify and feel privileged to be there. Students’ parents, also, are more invested in the educational experience: you’ll probably find it a welcome change to see how many parents are more interested in contributing than in complaining.
Note to Parents
If you’re considering sending your children to private school, don’t be deterred by “it’s so expensive” concerns. If you’re willing to put in the effort of finding the perfect school for your kids and being a participating member of the team, chances are the school will be willing to work with you on finding ways to pay tuition. Besides, when you really look at it, public schools aren’t exactly cost-free either!
A GREAT PRIVATE SCHOOL TO WORK AT
Shady Oak is looking for teachers who respect children as individuals and have a passion for bringing out the best in everyone. Our teaching philosophy is built on the “6 Pillars” of connection, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. If that sounds like your perfect work environment, contact us to ask about current opportunities.
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!