Four Day Teaching Week

I’ve been helping my wife to run her school, Cambridge English in Sendai, for almost twenty years now. One of our main goals is to make it the best working environment possible.

A couple of years ago I had an idea: what if we could cut the teaching week to four days? Our school needs three full time teachers to teach all the classes, but that means that if someone is sick or wants to take a day off we have a problem.

And that is not fair to the teachers. They shouldn’t feel pressured to work just because we don’t have any slack in the system. But that is how things are at many small eikaiwas.

If we could just hire a fourth teacher, we would have someone to cover. It would also allow us to cut the regular teaching load from 26-7 classes a week to 20.

Each teacher would teach three weekdays and Saturday, and have one day to prep, work on projects, or cover for someone else if they couldn’t be there that day. Teachers who proved they were able to work independently could work from home on their non-teaching day.

It seems like a win-win. The teachers will be more relaxed and have time to work on our curriculum and materials and the school will become more robust.

We are not planning to reduce salaries due to this change, so our school should become a more attractive place to work, which should allow us to keep teachers for longer and have more applicants to choose from when we do need to hire someone.

Is anyone else doing a four-day teaching week or considering one?

We have a five day teaching week but I only work 4 of those days, my wife works 3.5, one teacher works 2, and another works just one.

I have no plans to work a 5-day week ever again.

Great initiative. This to me sounds like what we should be basing work structures on in the first place!

If all the teachers are teaching on Saturday, how do you plan to handle holiday requests on those days?

We do have five of our teachers who only teach four days a week, mainly so they’ll be available for coverage. This means there is one teacher available for each day of the week, Tuesday through Saturday. These teachers teach between 19-22 classes per week. They can apply for one of these positions by submitting a project proposal they want to work on during their non-teaching day, when not having to cover. If not enough teachers apply, then we have projects that we may ask a specific teacher to do and then only give them four days a week of scheduled teaching. (We always have five teachers with a non-teaching day.) All project day work can be done from home, or anywhere else, if appropriate and the teacher prefers it.

Our holiday system allows all teachers 15-20 flexible holidays a year without the need of coverage teachers, however. We had flexible holidays years before developing the five 4-day teaching positions.

Well, we currently run Saturdays with three teachers. It is a long day, but manageable. With four teachers it will be much more pleasant, but if necessary three teachers could handle it, and I can cover too if two teachers are absent ^-^

That makes sense. As long as you have options for all five days, your bases should be covered and the extra day could help you accomplish a lot of things you might not have been able to otherwise. Either that, or your teachers just get more off time. Definitely interested in hearing how it goes!


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