Teaching in a Low-Income School

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms.Holyoke, Dec 3, 2017.

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  1. Been There

    Been There Companion

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    Dec 4, 2017

    I've read many other posts from teachers who echo AmyMyNamey's sentiments and opinions. In fact, I can personally relate to everything she said. When members negatively label others as being ___ or ___, such posts serve no useful purpose and therefore warrant no response. Just my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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  2. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Dec 4, 2017

    Don’t you guys think your students pick up on any of this unhappiness with your chosen profession?
     
  3. Backroads

    Backroads Enthusiast

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    Dec 4, 2017

    I''ve only taught at low SES schools. To be honest, it can get very hard. I work with a lady who loves it... who also switches to a better school now and then just to rejuvenate herself in order to go back to the low SES challenges.

    That said, if it's Title 1, you get perks. Parents can often be grateful. There is something rewarding about the challenge.

    And "rich" schools aren't necessarily easy. My sister teaches at a rich school. They have nada in supplies and technology and still a fair share of behavior issues. My sister-in-law also teaches at a rich school. The parents send her Norwex cloths to clean the desks with so the kids don't get cancer from other wipes.
     
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  4. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

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    Dec 4, 2017

    I teach at a rich school. It's not easy, but it's a different set of problems. I had to learn a new set of skills to be successful here. For example, parents need managing. They clamber to help out, so I need to keep them busy and productive, or they start to complain. Also they require an extremely robust communication system that adds hours to my week.
     
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  5. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    Dec 4, 2017

    I understand your opinion and I definitely see the stress that is placed on teachers in my school...which is part of what makes me nervous. I don't think my mentor teacher has found a good work/life balance yet and she has been teaching for a long time. I find so many things about unfair which does discourage me, especially because I did attend a wealthy school as a child. However, I have observed in wealthier schools and subbed in wealthier schools and I got the sense that this environment wasn't for me because I never felt fully comfortable. That could just be me being idealistic, but I still want to teach in a low-income school long term. My state does have good teacher salaries which is definitely a positive as well.
     
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  6. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2017

    It is admirable that you are choosing to teach where the need is greatest. I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, but I refuse to be less than open about the challenges facing all educators in this country. If we do not speak out against injustice, we are in part to blame for the way we are treated.

    Give 'em hell, and good luck!
     
  7. Belch

    Belch Rookie

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    Dec 5, 2017

    I've never taught in low income schools, but I have taught in the best junior high school in my prefecture, and it was incredible! The students were so motivated and intelligent that whatever I wanted to do, they managed to do. My colleagues and I were all committed to doing the best that we possibly could for our students, and that was a great time of my academic career.

    If you have good students, good parents, and a good community, then it's a downhill battle because they are all working with you, rather than against you.
     
  8. Kyle Spearin

    Kyle Spearin Rookie

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    Dec 5, 2017

    This is a great topic! I went to a low income district and student taught in one as well. It was the best teaching experience I could have asked for. Here are my biggest takeaways:

    1. Classroom management
    After teaching in an urban district, my first job offer was at a suburban school district. Nothing prepared me more for having my own class than the classroom management skills and strategies I obtained from working in an urban district. You will be for the better having taught in an urban district even if you decide to leave. If you decide to stay, this skill is most essential to remain level-headed. My best advice in this regard is to build great relationships with your students and gain their respect early on, this will make management far easier.

    2. Different Skill Levels
    Although it can be a challenge to teach a variety of skill levels, it also presents great opportunities. The high flying students can serve as extra teachers in the room who help you explain material and work with small groups. By empowering them, they will not only enjoy your class more, they will also learn quite a bit from explaining things to other students. As far as the lower performing students, I find that project based learning works well (visuals) and also debates (auditory). Sometimes the written skills may not reflect what your students are actually capable of.

    Be sure to let your students know that you are pushing them and have very high expectations. They will buy in if you make this known and praise them for working hard. I've seen great results when students get rid of the defeatist mentality.

    3. Administrators and Teachers
    Stay away from negative teachers and incompetent administrators. There are going to be demoralized teachers due to the nature of working with less resources and admins who use urban districts to pad their resumes before moving on without making change. YOU have to inspire, YOU have to be the one that always stays positive. If you can do this, students and other positive teachers alike can work together to create an amazing support system.

    Good luck!
     
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  9. anon55

    anon55 Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2017

    This unhealthy obsession with test scores is exactly what the charter schools do, and they of course choose their own students so they brag about the All Important High Stakes Test Scores their students get. High stakes tests don't determine the value of the child and they ARE NOT a good measure of their learning or their ability to learn. They're a good measure of poverty though.
     
  10. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Dec 6, 2017

    Why bother assessing then. You win.
     
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  11. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Dec 6, 2017

    I taught in low income schools for 6 years. This is my second year in a higher income school. Here are my thoughts:

    Low Income Pros:
    • You really feel like your work matters.
    • I had incredible autonomy because nobody cared what I did, really.
    • The school always needed improvement in something, and I enjoyed that as I am a problem solver by nature.
    • My kids were always so low that it was easy to grow them with some effort.
    Low Income Cons:
    • Not good if you're the kind of person who gets attached to work. The stress will eat you alive. You'll never sleep without forced life balance.
    • Needs are always greater than resources. Academically...behaviorally...you name it.
    • You will lose kids to unfortunate circumstances. This can be depressing.
    • These schools are often in survival mode with less stable staff. I found there were generally lower expectations for adults all around. Sometimes showing up consistently was good enough.
    Higher Income Pros
    • More basic needs are met, so kids come prepared to do school.
    • There is a privilege of focusing on pedagogy. Because everything's not so insane, my new school has time and energy to do PLCs authentically, interventions, extra-curricular initiatives, peer observations, etc. There is literally time to reflect and improve.
    • Family involvement. People answer when we call. Parents show up to report card pickup. Many volunteers support the school with time and money.
    • High standards for kids and adults.
    Higher Income Cons
    • I can't ever shake the feeling that my kids would be fine without me. I feel very replaceable and sometimes like I'm not making a huge difference.
    • Parents pay attention to everything, so you have to be on top of grades, planning, etc.
    • I think the range of needs is wider, which makes differentiation even more difficult. You may have kids below grade level in a room with kids 2 years ABOVE grade level. In my experience, low income schools had kids who were all varying levels of Low, so the "what to teach" was not as confusing. It can be very difficult to grow extraordinarily high kids.
    • It's a different kind of stress staying at the top versus getting to the top in terms of school rankings/improvement.
    I regret none of my moves to or from either environment. I've learned a ton in both situations. I'm happy for now, but I could see myself switching back and forth every 5-10 years just to keep things interesting.
     
  12. anon55

    anon55 Comrade

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    Dec 8, 2017

    Me: "high stakes testing aren't the best way to measure student progress"

    You: "I guess you don't care about assessing students"
     
  13. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Dec 9, 2017 at 5:34 AM

    Since you seem to have forgotten, this is what you actually said:

    “This unhealthy obsession with test scores is exactly what the charter schools do, and they of course choose their own students so they brag about the All Important High Stakes Test Scores their students get. High stakes tests don't determine the value of the child and they ARE NOT a good measure of their learning or their ability to learn. They're a good measure of poverty though.”

    If you want to know what I actually think about you, it’s that you are so blinded by your opinions about charter schools, you are willing to ignore reality and how they benefit a lot of students. You would also rather everyone suffers equally until society magically invents a pill that eliminates poverty, problem behavior, and indifference. This of course as you don’t have to experience being trapped in poverty.
     
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  14. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    Dec 9, 2017 at 8:21 AM

    Once again, you are exactly right. The new age public school teacher — not all — can be summarized like this: Everything’s sexist, discriminatory, or bigoted in some form. Tests measure poverty (???) and are racist. Anything we don’t like is inequitable. We need more money even though quite a number of our schools receive the most federal funding already. We need higher salaries, but we’re *not* in it for the money. <wink wink>

    :rolleyes:

    Edit: I’m actually a product of the public schooling system and, by and large, support public schools and public schoolteachers. I abhor the PC nonsense that has pervaded the staff and labeling of everything, and I mean everything, as racist or sexist or socioeconomically inequitable. It’s just time to get new talking points.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017 at 10:23 AM
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  15. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Comrade

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    Dec 9, 2017 at 8:29 AM

    You a little jealous of us public school teachers?
     
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  16. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    Dec 9, 2017 at 8:31 AM

    No, just irritated by the standard BS answer to every obstacle that comes your way.

    Also, I am fully credentialed and can work in a public school at any time. I just prefer working in private schools because we (at least at my school) private teachers have complete autonomy in our classrooms and make great money. The added benefit is that I don’t have to deal with the baseless opposition to testing, am able to focus on just teaching, and can steer clear of emotive drivel.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017 at 8:50 AM
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  17. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Comrade

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    Dec 9, 2017 at 8:59 AM

    You prefer working in private schools, or have only worked in private schools? I have all you have PLUS tenure----WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  18. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    Dec 9, 2017 at 9:39 AM

    I don’t need tenure. I don’t have to rely on job security to know that I’ll still have my job at the end of the day. BTW, I’ve personally been told by the school board that they would fire the administrators before they would even *think* of firing me. I’m not trying to toot my own horn — this is what I’ve been told by the school dean and chairperson of the board. I’ve even had other staff members praise me heavily in staff meetings when they observed my classes. I also was voted best and favorite teacher by the majority of the student body for three years running and this is my fourth year. I’m not worried.

    WOO HOO!!!

    Lol!
     
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  19. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Dec 9, 2017 at 10:22 AM

    I would like to invite you to come teach at Indianapolis Public Schools for a while. Do that for a couple years, and let us then have a less divisive discussion once your perspective has been broadened a bit.
     
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  20. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    Dec 9, 2017 at 10:27 AM

    I appreciate the invite, but I am going to have to decline. The pay rate just doesn’t compare to California.

    I just would like to point out I’ve noticed a common theme, which is that *some* public teachers tend to bash charter and private schools and say they are sapping funding from public schools, leading to their continued non-successes. However, those schools in question would still not succeed if charters and private institutions did not exist and if they received all the money they asked for, which seems to verge on the infinite.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017 at 11:01 AM
  21. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Comrade

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    Dec 9, 2017 at 10:29 AM

    Amy puttin the lad in his place!
     
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