If you went to a boarding school, you know what teaching in one is all about. It's a multi-faceted job with many unique benefits. So, for those of you who didn't go to a boarding school, here's what's involved?
First of all, teaching in a boarding school is not a 9-5 job. (Well, strictly speaking, 8-3, but let's not quibble.) So, if you are looking for a job that you can leave behind you at the end of the school day, teaching in a boarding school is probably not for you. You see, boarding school teachers teach. That is, after all, their primary function, but they also function as parents. A Latin phrase describes this concept succinctly: in loco parentis, i.e., in place of a parent. Because families have sent their children to a residential school away from home for weeks, even months, the school staff functions in place of the parents. Boarding school students are supervised 24/7, just like they are at home.
A boarding school teacher's duties
Teachers in a boarding school wear many hats. They teach. They coach. They manage a club.
Yes, teaching is your primary responsibility and function. When you submit your application for a teaching position, that's one of the first things the school will evaluate. A school's clientele expects an excellent academic curriculum taught by top-notch, highly-credentialed professionals. That afore-mentioned clientele is paying handsomely for that experience.
One of the other hats you will wear is a coach's hat. Did you swim on your college swim team? You will probably find yourself blowing a whistle in the school's natatorium as you manage the swim teams' practices. Most schools complement their professional athletics staff with faculty who know a thing or two about a particular sport.
The school will expect you to supervise a club. Boarding schools offer extracurricular activities or clubs for just about every inclination. Did you major in Spanish? The school will probably ask you to supervise that student activity.
Most boarding school teachers also live on campus in one of the dormitories. They supervise the students who live there.
If you are wondering why you have to do all those things, boarding schools pride themselves on educating the whole child. That concept includes academics, sports, and extracurricular activities.
This video explains the Harkness method of teaching. The Harkness method works because class sizes are small, typically 12-15 students.
Boarding schools generally want teachers who have solid credentials. Therefore, you should offer a first degree in your subject. For example, suppose you are applying for a position as an English teacher. In that case, you should have a Bachelor's degree with a major in English Language and Literature or American Language and Literature. If you graduated summa cum laude, that would be impressive. Teachers are exemplars. When students realize how hard you worked to earn your academic credentials, they will understand why just about everything in life takes a lot of effort.
The school will encourage you to earn your Master's degree. However, earning a Doctorate adds an impressive credential to your resume, especially if you intend to pursue administrative positions in education.
If you have been teaching for several years and are thinking of looking for a teaching position elsewhere, make sure that your resume and curriculum vitae are both up to date. As far as your professional skills are concerned, read Do You Need A Rebranding? for some ideas and suggestions about presenting yourself as a state-of-the-art teacher. If you resist change, employers will bypass you in favor of state-of-the-art applicants.
This video from Colombia University explains the benefits of a Master's degree.
Salaries for boarding school teachers vary greatly but are generally competitive in many states, especially when the school includes. The search string "boarding school salaries" will yield various results that will give you a rough idea of compensation. In addition, most schools will offer benefits, including health insurance and contributions to a retirement fund.
Private school teachers are more fortunate than most public school teachers. Why? Because they get to teach their subject in small classes. Real learning occurs in most private school classrooms due to low student-to-teacher ratios. Discipline is rarely a problem. What does this have to do with teacher compensation? Job satisfaction with a reasonable compensation package will produce a happy teacher.
Private school teachers enjoy many perks not generally found in the public sector. These include free or reduced tuition for faculty children, meals, and housing at boarding schools.
Where to find jobs
You will find jobs in boarding schools advertised on their websites. December to March tend to have the most openings because teachers' will give notice during that time frame, and contracts will not be renewed then. Monitor the schools that you are considering. The other useful sites are the regional and state association websites.
Finally, your network can be a valuable source of job referrals. Building a robust network of professional friends and acquaintances pays off because those folks know you or have worked with you and can attest to your abilities and good character. Think of all the people you meet in person or electronically every day. Keep email addresses for those colleagues and others you consider valuable in some way. Perhaps you admire a colleague's leadership in a particular area, such as online learning or podcasting. Leave a comment on her blog. Email her. You don't have to write an epistle. A few words of positive support and encouragement are all that you need to write. Ask for help. Nobody can have all the answers. Your colleagues are an excellent resource. Keeping your network current allows you to utilize those resources fully.
Whether you are looking for your first boarding school job or your third, ask a trusted colleague or friend to review your resume and curriculum vita. Those documents have to be perfect and present you in the best possible light. Then do some practice interview sessions. These measures will give you confidence when the school asks to interview you. Don't forget that you will be one of two or three applicants the school has selected to interview. Therefore, you want to be the successful applicant.
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