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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Is Teaching Family Friendly?

One reason I became a teacher is because I wanted a family-friendly career. I felt that teaching would be family-friendly by allowing me the time I needed to care for my children well and invest in a profession too.

In many ways teaching is family friendly. We have a long summer vacation, get out of school at a reasonable time, have same vacations as our children, and are invested in work that relates to the positive development of children and families. Also in the system where I teach, teachers can bring their children to our schools--this has been a terrific bonus for parenting and teaching. By having my children in the system, I've gained greater system knowledge and ability to serve my students and children well.

There are also ways that teaching is not family friendly; ways that we can look to improve including the following:
  • Good teaching right now is a seven-day-a-week, 12-hour-a-day-job. The amount of work required for after school hours and days is extensive. We need to add more prep, planning, and administrative time during the school day. We can also re-think the administrative structure and roles to embrace a more distributive model of leadership which may, in turn, provide greater time for planning, prep, and administration without adding extra dollars to school budgets. 
  • We also have to look at whether we are punishing teachers who have children by not offering those teachers the same support or opportunity for professional growth and added pay. I remember when I was a young mother and teacher; money was tight and I couldn't afford to pay for courses upfront to increase my skill and pay so I had to wait until I had that money to pay for the advancement I desired. Also sometimes teachers' schedules are hampered by their child-care responsibilities and needs. We can think more about how to support parents and teachers of young children.
  • Day care costs are high, and schools can look at ways to support this by adding or working with day-care facilities and pre-schools to support teachers with families more.
I'm a fan of making all work family-friendly so people don't have to choose between having a family or caring for a family and their work responsibilities and growth. I think we can continue to develop teaching so that it is family friendly and professionally successful too.