Since teachers are responsible for shaping the next generation, it can be said that teaching is a profession unlike any other. Still, there’s one similarity that bridges the gap between teaching and other jobs: teachers have to negotiate their starting salary just like any other employee.
When negotiating for a teaching contract, you don’t have to accept the salary and benefits offered to you if you think you’re worth more. You can often secure better terms, so you don’t leave value on the table. Here are some strategies you can use to land better teaching contracts.
Consider your goals
A negotiation course can teach you to look at your long-term vision and how your career helps you get there. Any job you take determines what trajectory your career and your life will follow. Focus on opportunities that help you grow as a teacher.
Avoid being lured by positions that don’t have challenging responsibilities. Is the current offer in line with your aspirations? Remember, salary is only one part of the equation. Consider the doors your new offer is likely to open, which courses you’ll teach, and how the role might enhance your wellbeing.
When you arrive at the negotiation table, be ready to use market data and your achievements to show your value. Research any data available on teacher compensation to give you an idea of what you’re worth. Also, consider the standards of living where the prospective teaching job is based. Compare what other schools offer teachers with similar skills as you, then use this data as a benchmark.
Prior research gives you an informed basis for making trades during negotiation. It puts you in a better position to convince your employer why they should pay you more. Show the employer why you’re worth the amount you quote with well-reasoned, data-backed answers.
Having different options is the best strategy to get the most leverage for yourself. You don’t have to take a deal that doesn’t offer the best terms. Having only one offer in hand makes it difficult for you to walk away. It can make you desperate and erode your confidence.
Consider your options and weigh up your best alternatives. You could apply for more jobs to have more offers lined up, or look for positions in a different city if you can afford to move. Multiple attractive offers mean you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Find the best alternative you can take if an agreement cannot be reached so that you don’t have to accept any terms you’re not happy with.
Renewing the contract
You may not get the most lucrative contract for your first teaching job. However, when it’s time to renew your contract, there’s more wiggle room for you to take advantage of. Build relationships from your first day at work with department heads and influential teachers. Do an outstanding job of meeting and exceeding needs. This may include taking on additional projects or courses, and yes, this may consume some of your evenings and weekends.
Eventually, the relationships you build will influence your reputation at work. This ultimately will influence the perceptions of the hiring department or person when negotiating for a second contract.
As for the asking, it’s wiser to ask politely and professionally. Take a negotiation course if you’re not sure how you’ll approach management. Communicate via email if you’re nervous. Most importantly, show why you deserve a raise based on what you’ve achieved while working there. Use every working day to build more leverage for negotiation.
Negotiate through a union
Teachers’ unions are powerful because there is strength in numbers. A union is a group of lobbyists who look after the worker’s interests. They amplify the voice of one employee using a strategy called collective bargaining, where they add the voice of all its members to maximize their impact. If you’re not part of a union, consider joining one or hiring an attorney who specializes in workers’ rights.