The Pros and Cons of Being a Private School Teacher

3 min


Private School Teacher in classroom with students

While education may seem pretty standardized to those who are not in the teaching profession, we educators can tell you that private and public schools are radically different. Public schools get a bad rap as being overcrowded, underfunded playgrounds full of glorified babysitters who couldn’t get a better job doing something else. On the other hand, private schools are seen as cushy cribs paid for by a small handful of parents who have the financial means to essentially buy their child’s way through school. What’s even more radical than these stereotypes is the difference in teaching at both of these kinds of schools.

Here are the top five pros and cons of being a private school teacher.


1. Immense freedom when creating curriculum and lesson plans.

Oh, happy day! Private school teachers generally aren’t tied down to specific guidelines or outdated curricula. They’re given much more freedom than public school teachers to add some creativity into daily lessons and to teach standards how they see fit. This “one size does not fit all” approach allows them to constantly think outside of the box and feel like Big Brother is not always watching.

2. Class sizes tend to be much smaller.

They don’t have 50 students with different learning styles, IEPs, modifications, and accommodations all crammed into one tiny portable. Class sizes are much smaller which allow teachers to develop fantastic relationships with their students. In a class of 20, they can really get to know their kids. These connections can sometimes be lost when you are a public school teacher with over 150 students.

3. They generally don’t have as much state testing as public school teachers.

Yes, there is still testing to do, and yes, there are still moments when they have to prepare students for upcoming said tests. However, the tests/daily schedule look a bit different than public schools. And, most importantly, their jobs aren’t intricately linked to how students perform on those tests. Private schools still use this data to inform teaching practices, but it isn’t the end all, be all for their teaching careers.

4. Job security.

Private school teachers don’t get “pink-slipped” early on in their careers like in public schools. You are pretty much guaranteed to stay there. The whole “first in, first out” rule doesn’t really apply.

5. Discipline issues are often way less than in public schools.

Generally speaking, no matter how misbehaved private school teachers may think some of their students are, it’s more common to hear nightmares about public school kids who have done something ten times worse. With the combination of stricter discipline policies, traditional school culture, and many other contributing factors, Private schools tend to have fewer kids acting out and disrupting classes.


1. The pay.

You think a public school salary is bad?  Some private schools don’t even have a salary schedule and sometimes don’t even have raises on a yearly basis! Salaries are laughable and the gap between what a private/public school teacher makes just widens enormously over time.

2. The parents are your main client.

It’s a terrible feeling when you know a parent has more control over the school than you do. The amount of authority some of these parents have is beyond ridiculous. It’s scary knowing that they are truly the kings and queens of the palace while teachers feel like mere peasants trying to do their work and keep their heads down.

3. You are constantly doing publicity for your school.

Forget being JUST a nurse, a therapist, a cheerleader, and a coach. You also have to be ready to sell your school and your program at a moment’s notice! Is a prospective family touring the school? Stop what you are doing and explain how you run your class! Does the school need more promotional materials? Forget having your students learn anything and have them pose for incredibly staged, albeit cute pics!

4. You are expected to cover classes and do duties without any additional pay.

As a private school teacher, you can expect to do morning, recess, lunch, and after school duty without any additional pay.  Is one of your co-workers sick? You probably need to cover their class because the school didn’t have time to get a sub. Add this to an ever-increasing to-do list and it can become overwhelming.

5. Every student is destined to go to Harvard from birth.

In general, it’s common to find parents in Private schools who are convinced that their child is more gifted than the next, and must be challenged because their back up school at the age of five is Princeton. Waters need to be tread upon, gently. Suggesting a kid is average is a death sentence. Just don’t do it!

Pros and cons of being a private school teacher

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Abigail Courter is a fifth year music teacher at a K-8 private school in California.  She has taught general music, band, music technology, and performing arts.

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