1. Required credentials
Credentials required of teachers in public and private schools can differ, especially among states. For example, public school teachers often need one or a combination of the following:
Private school teachers may face different requirements. In more rural and remote environments with teacher shortages, degree requirements for private school teachers may be less stringent, although typically a bachelor’s degree is required. Teacher aides and substitutes may be able to work without a bachelor’s degree. In a more affluent area, private school teachers may be required to have a master’s degree in education or even a doctoral degree in education to teach students from kindergarten to 12th grade.
The level of education required depends on your employer, your location, local laws and the type of school.
2. Class sizes
Private schools often have smaller class sizes due to a variety of factors, including higher cost of attendance and specific admissions requirements. As a result, smaller class sizes can facilitate more personalized instruction and may allow for better student–teacher relationships. However, private schools may require teachers to take on multiple roles.
Public schools often have larger class sizes compared to private schools. Class sizes can vary widely depending on the school district and location. Larger class sizes mean that teachers may have to manage and differentiate instruction for a more diverse group of students, which can be challenging but also rewarding.
Another factor that can affect class size is a school’s setting. For example, public schools in a rural area may have smaller class sizes than those in a large urban environment.
Public and private schools are typically funded through very different sources. Public schools are funded by taxpayer dollars and government allocations at various levels. While this funding model ensures access to education for all, it also makes public school budgets susceptible to fluctuations influenced by economic and political factors. These fluctuations can create challenges in maintaining consistent funding levels.
For teachers in public schools, resourcefulness and creativity often become essential traits as they navigate the dynamic funding landscape. Finding ways to secure additional resources, whether through grants, partnerships or community support, becomes a valuable skill.
On the plus side, public school educators often enjoy a sense of job security thanks to union protections and tenure systems. This stability can be a significant factor for those seeking a long-term teaching career.
As for private schools, they are typically funded through tuition payments, donors and fundraisers. In contrast to public schools, this leads to a greater degree of financial stability. Teachers in private schools may have more autonomy over budget decisions or fundraising efforts, depending on the school’s structure. It should be noted that private schools may offer competitive salaries to attract and retain top talent in the teaching profession. However, the trade-off can be fewer benefits and more variability in compensation packages compared to public school positions.
4. Teaching principles and curricula
Core principles, as well as subject or overall curriculum, may differ between public and private schools. Public schools are required to teach according to the standards that are laid out by the state government and local school boards. This could include what the teachers are required to teach and what they are not allowed to teach.
In a private school, an individual school may be tasked with choosing or creating the curriculum that teachers use in the classroom. In some cases, this gives teachers much more of a creative license when creating their classes.
5. Teaching styles
Public school teachers are often required to hold certifications and follow particular methods. Private schools may have a more varied pool of educators with different educational backgrounds who may have their own methods they are allowed to implement.
A teaching style is the way in which a teacher provides lessons to students throughout the school year. Each teacher has their own teaching style, which, as mentioned, can be affected by the environment in which the teacher works. Teachers may prefer lecture-based learning or project-based learning, or they may focus on collaborative projects or individual work.
A teacher who prefers project-based learning may have different opportunities to use their preferred teaching method in a private school. These opportunities could include more field trips, extra crafting supplies or simply smaller class sizes that facilitate this type of learning.
Teaching styles can vary widely within both public and private settings depending on school culture, leadership and even parental expectations.