What is it really like to work in a private school? Is it the same as teaching in a public school? We'll look at the advantages of working in private schools, different types of jobs in private schools, teaching in a private school versus in a public school, the benefits to working at a private school, preparing for work in a private school and finding employment in private schools.
I taught Latin, English, World History, Music, and Computers in private schools. I also was the Deputy Director of a private school. What I liked the most was that my students loved learning. Their curiosity was boundless.
Advantages of Working in a Private School
A private school teacher does not have to teach to the test. Public school teachers must focus on preparing their students to do well on state-mandated testing as opposed to really teaching them. Teaching to the Test: Advantages and Disadvantages, an article in Edutopia, explains what teaching to the test implies.
Smaller Class Sizes
Private school class sizes are generally smaller than similar public school classes. You can truly teach a small class of students. Discipline issues are minimal. With a class of 12-15, I was able to see at a glance who understood the lesson and who didn't.
Increased Teacher Safety
Teachers feel safer in most private schools because private schools can enforce their discipline codes with impunity. In addition, most private schools have a much smaller student population than public schools. It is easier to supervise a smaller group of students.
Different Types of Jobs in Private Schools
Private schools employ administrators, support staff, and teachers. The teachers are what give any private school its special, unique flavor. Most schools are very particular about the kinds of teaching styles and qualifications they are looking for.
What does a teacher do?
- Teacher. The teacher is responsible for educating students in her class to set expectations. Depending on the grade level, the teacher may be responsible for multiple subjects, or he may focus on one subject. In addition to their teaching duties, teachers may have extra roles in study hall, the cafeteria, sports, and other after-school activities. GlassDoor shows an average salary for private school teachers of $47,000. Teaching positions can specialize in special education, vocational training, and athletic training.
- Teacher’s Assistant. The teacher’s assistant helps the teacher maintain the educational milieu of the class, prepares class materials, and works with students. The salary range will be less than what a teacher makes.
- The NCES offers State Education Data Profiles, which give you an idea of what conditions are like in various parts of the country.
Administrative & Support
Administrative and support positions include:
- Office Staff
- Guidance Counselor
- School Social Worker
- School Nurse
- Food Service
Teaching in a Private School vs. a Public School
Here are some of the more common attributes where public and private schools differ. These are often the reason why a particular private school was started in the first place. Parents or teachers, often both, decided that they could produce a better educational result by creating a school where they controlled the way the school was run and who attended.
Teacher safety is generally a non-issue in most private schools. When an incident occurs, the consequences are swift and appropriate. Private school students are governed by contract law. The terms of their being at the school are very clearly spelled out in that contract signed by parents and the school.
Class size is small in most prep schools. Typically 12:1 is the ratio of students to faculty you will find. Most parochial schools have larger class sizes, generally in the range of 25-30 students. Teaching a small group of students is much easier than teaching a large class.
Supplies such as books and equipment tend to be newer than those in public schools. In a private school, students buy their books at the beginning of the school year. Facilities and equipment are usually state-of-the-art in private schools as they have more funding options.
In private schools, teachers often feel they have more impact on the curriculum than they would in a public school setting. This is because most public schools (charter schools being an exception) must follow a curriculum set by the state from which they cannot deviate. About 30 private schools follow the IB or International Baccalaureate curriculum, which is a rigorous course of study leading to a diploma granted by an external examination body.
Advance Placement Courses
Private schools offer a wide variety of AP courses because they have the qualified, experienced staff and resources to teach these college-level courses effectively.
Private schools tend to keep their administration fairly streamlined. They don't have the layers of bureaucracy with which public schools have to contend. This makes it easier to address issues and effect change as necessary.
Most public school teachers belong to a teachers union. Private school teachers do not belong to a union. Private schools often strive to maintain close relationships between teachers, administrators, and parents. They may prioritize open lines of communication and collaboration to address concerns and make decisions collectively. In such environments, the need for formal union representation may be perceived as less critical.
Typical Benefits for Private School Jobs
The following benefits are fairly common at most private schools:
- Health insurance
- Disability benefits
- Leave programs (Sick, personal, holidays). Because most teaching positions are only for nine months, teachers may not receive annual vacation time (in either private or public settings).
- Retirement plans
- Life Insurance
- Savings plans (457 and 403b)
- Professional development plans
- Tuition reimbursement for continuing education
- Long-term care benefits
- Employee assistance program (EAP) and mental health benefits
- Reduced or free tuition for children
- Housing (at boarding schools)
Career Paths to Private School Jobs
The career path to a private school job differs from the public school sector in several ways. Private schools will often hire teachers who have not yet obtained a teacher's license or teacher’s certificate. The emphasis is on expertise in a subject area and other qualifications. It's important to note that the career path to a private school job can vary depending on factors such as location, level of experience, and the specific requirements and preferences of individual schools. Being proactive, building a strong network, and continuously developing your skills and qualifications will increase your chances of securing a desirable position in a private school.
Teaching in a private school setting requires a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. A master's degree or doctorate is preferable. A subject area is preferred over an education degree, particularly at the high school level.
It's a common belief that private schools do not require certification. Actually, it depends on the individual school. The US Department of Education keeps an updated list of state requirements for private schools. You should also check with private schools that you are interested in to find out what certifications they require. Besides state certification, a private school may require additional regional certification, such as the NAPCIS Teacher Certification Program for Catholic educators.
Teachers can begin teaching as soon as they have graduated from college. Many private schools offer intern programs so that they can train the fledgling teacher according to the school's teaching practices. Many young private school teachers can enjoy their first class right out of college.
Where to Look for Private School Jobs
Placement agencies know the market and have established clients looking for qualified staff.
- CalWest Educators Placement specializes in the placement of private school teachers and administrators on the west coast.
- Carney, Sandoe & Associates specializes in placing faculty and administration in independent schools. The firm was established in 1977. Register online to become a CS&A candidate.
- The Education Group is another placement firm that focuses on placing teachers and administration into private school settings.
- Search Associates focuses on placing teachers and administrators in private schools worldwide.
School Web Sites
Be sure to check out private school websites for job openings. These will be posted under a heading such as employment or professional opportunities.
Association and Other Job Boards
- Anthroposophy has an online listing of current job openings for Waldorf schools.
- K-12 Jobs has a job bank for teaching and administrative positions but you’ll need to create an account first before you can access the site.
- Montessori (AMI-USA) has a listing of job openings in the US and for International positions for the member schools of the Association Montessori Internationale.
- Montessori Schools (AMS) is the job bank site for the American Montessori Society which includes over 1,000 member schools. Their job bank will let you narrow your search down by state.
- NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) has one of the best private school websites in the sector with a sophisticated job search engine that lets you narrow your search by job level, category, and location. NAIS has over 1,100 member schools.
- WaldorfWorld has an online job bank for international positions in Waldorf schools. You can also post ads to seek employment.
- The Independent School Educators' List (ISED-L) has job postings from time to time.
- The Klingenstein Center has a comprehensive job bank.
This video describes teacher assistant training in the Montessori method.
Employment in Religious Schools
- Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) offers a job listing for job openings in Christian schools in North America. Job seekers can also post their qualifications and contact information online.
- Friends Council on Education FCE has an online job bank for member schools providing Quaker Education. Search results can be narrowed by state.
- The National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools NAPCIS offers online job placement list of available positions in member schools.
- The National Association of Episcopal Schools NAES offers a listing of career opportunities at member schools. Their career announcements are categorized into administrative and teaching positions, further dividing teaching positions into early childhood, elementary and middle school, and secondary school teaching positions.
- National Catholic Educational Association NCEA's job bank is used by member schools. Non-member schools can use it for a fee, so even if you’re not interested in working in a school with a religious affiliation, this site may be worth a visit.
- National Christian School Association NCSA has both job listings and lets you post your resume.
- Seventh-day Adventist Schools This site lists open positions at SDA schools.
Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @privateschoolreview
#PrivateSchoolJobs #TeachingOpportunities #EducationCareers