Part 2: Your Thoughts on Teacher Sabbaticals

The following post can also be found at Equality 101.

In an effort to continue the conversation about teacher sabbaticals, I have gathered some resources for further thinking by readers. I invite readers to peruse these sources so that we can expand and enrich our understanding of how sabbaticals can be used as professional development that sustains self-care, student-care, and school-care. Please also feel free to use these sources as a jumping off point to respond to the questions I posed last week:

• How are sabbaticals implemented at your school? Are they paid or unpaid?
• How many years must a teacher serve at your school in order for a sabbatical to be taken?
• What have teachers done at your school during their sabbatical and how has that contributed to their classroom practice, curriculum, and or larger school program?

The following 2005 article, “The Gift of Time: Benefits of Teacher Sabbaticals,” written by Kathleen Modenbach for Education World, discusses how teachers need extended periods of time beyond summer breaks to explore new content that will ultimately inform their practice.

Dorit Sasson’s 2007 article titled “Teacher Sabbaticals: The Pros of Taking a Leave of Absence in Teaching” not only poses important questions about taking sabbaticals but also offers some advice on when to take them.

Finally, the following is a 2007 video from the Fulbright Scholars Channel on You Tube. This video features SCAD Professor Marcia Neblett’s five-month exchange teaching life-drawing and printmaking at the University of Madras Government College of Fine Art in southern India. Teachers can also receive a Fulbright via the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program and the Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program. Neblett’s story can serve as a model for how teachers can engage in cross-cultural education and professional development within a global context.

Continue sending your thoughts and opinions on teacher sabbaticals this week for part 3 of this series next week.

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8 thoughts on “Part 2: Your Thoughts on Teacher Sabbaticals

  1. Here teachers can work for four years and take the fifth year off at 80% pay for the five years. So technically you’re only getting paid for the time you work but they spread it out so you don’t have to worry about saving. By mid-career you are making good money so taking a 20% cut in pay could be worth a year off.

    • Lyndsay, Thanks for this information. Can you clarify what you mean by the fifth year of pay please? Are they receiving 80% of their salary that fifth year that they are off and then they return to 100% when they return during that sixth year? Great to know about this!

      • I believe all five years are 80% pay. So you work for four years and make four years of pay but the pay is spread out over five years. After four years you take a year off and are guaranteed your job back. As a starting teacher here you make between $42 000 to $50 000 (if you can find a job, there are plenty of teachers looking) so after a few years you could definitely be okay with 80% pay depending on your expenses.

      • What an amazing system. I would love to know more about how that works with class coverage. Once a teacher takes a sabbatical during that fifth year, who covers their classes? Do you have an idea what the teachers on sabbatical have done during their time away? Research, travel, writing? It would be fascinating to document your school’s sabbatical program as a model for others to emulate.

  2. I suppose any teacher willing to sign a one-year contract would cover their classes. At this point, particularly in Toronto, you’re unlikely to get a permanent teaching position when you’ve just graduated from teacher’s college. I guess teachers could do whatever they want on their year off. I believe many school boards across the province offer “4 over 5”. I don’t know what people do. I’m just finishing up school to be a teacher. I’m applying to teach in England next year to get experience.

    Some other good news is starting next September a Women’s and Gender Studies course will be available at some schools across the province. I would love to teach that someday.

    • Thank you for this further clarification, Lyndsay. I would love to know more about what those teachers have done on their sabbaticals. Perhaps I can do some further research on it. It would certainly be great if there is documentation of their work, as it would be a gift to current teachers as well as new teachers looking for models of what can be accomplished during that time. The “4 over 5” model certainly demonstrates Canada’s wholistic approach to taking care of teachers and preventing burnout. I still would prefer, though, to see teachers receive their 100% salary during those first four years, as they certainly deserve full compensation for the dedicated work they put in during that time. The fact that there is a sabbatical included in the system in Canada is certainly a tremendous step in the right direction.

      On your point about the Women’s and Gender Studies course for high schools across the province, yes, I am familiar with it and think it’s terrific. I believe the Miss G Project spearheaded this effort, yes? What an inspiring initiative. US schools could certainly look to Canada as a model for examining issues of gender in the curriculum. I wrote about the Miss G Project briefly in an earlier post of mine.

      I’m sending you good luck for your applications to teach in England next year. I’m sure you’ll be fantastic.

      • Yep, The Miss G Project did that. I will clarify that this is all for Ontario. Education is run by the province. I don’t know about similar opportunities in other provinces.

        I believe a 4 over 5 model should be available in many more jobs, especially with high unemployment.

  3. The idea that college professors may take because they need sabaticals but under college level teachers may not take them because they do not need sabaticals is an apples to oranges hypocrisy that operates as detriment to American schools where some teachers are treated as professionals and some are treated as civil servants.

    The double standard is unwarranted by any objective measure of competency, education, or endeavor, and has been an area of tenure and dysfunctional education for a long while. If there is reason for sabatical at any level of teaching, there is reason for sabatical at every level of teaching
    It is preposterous to imagine otherwise if teaching is truly to be considered a profession rather than a job.

    The problems in the profession are ancient, and include labor relations of the labor unions who seek to use those 3.1 million teachers as free labor for politicians, and a collective voice for pushing political agendas – many of which are detrimental to the teaching profession altogether.

    Teaching is the most neglected public run profession in the entire government that continues to operate by feudalism and its associated principles.

    Only by becoming a private school teacher or a private college profession can any teacher escape the political nature of the teaching profession that operates on these feudal traditions. No group in society works harder than teachers and no group is remunerated less for that hard work.

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