Emerging Trend: Split Shifts

The split shift, a phenomenon most commonly associated with waitstaff in the US, is becoming more and more common in EFL. This is when you work in more than one “chunk” of time throughout the day – a weekly schedule with split shifts might be, say:

Monday 8-9, 4:30-7:45
Tuesday 8-9:30, 4-5
Wednesday 8-9, 4:30-7:45
Thursday 8-9:30, 4-5
Friday 8:30-11:30

…and two more one hour lessons scheduled at the convenience of the students.

For me, the difficulty of split shifts is just that feeling that you are never really “done” with work – or you may have only two and a half hours of teaching but, as above, it starts at 8 and isn’t done til 5. Travel time can be an issue as well – instead of one journey each way, you have two or maybe three locations in a day, or two trips to the very same location in one day, several hours apart.

How to fill the time in between? There is always preparation…if you can arrange things so you are preparing for something in the time immediately connected to the times you are teaching, that’s ideal. But if you’re like me, you need “inspiration” and can’t really force it just before a class – or at least don’t want to have to depend on it just coming.

There are the Top 10 Time Killers featured here…but these are just time killers. I love shoes, but you can only do so much shoe shopping. The best bet, aside from avoiding split shifts like the plague, would be to make a conscious effort to manage your time well. If you need to go shopping, do it after an early shift so you can bring your groceries home. You’ve just saved yourself one half of a trip to the supermarket.

Seeing the town that you’re in isn’t a bad idea either – nor is socializing with colleagues – if you can find time off in common to do so. Aside from the obvious benefit of friendship, colleagues can offer insight and support.

All that said, I must admit that working split shifts tends to make me less likely to appreciate the town or socialize during the day at least with colleagues. if I can “fit someone in” I do, but when I do have a chunk of time off, I want to savor it and don’t want to break it up by going out somewhere in the middle of it. Traveling to the center twice a day to teach is also a bit of a disincentive to returning once more at night if it’s not conjoined with your teaching… I do of course frequently make exceptions in this area though.