Half A Year Down, What I've Noticed

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by NJSocialStudies, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. NJSocialStudies

    NJSocialStudies Rookie

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    Dec 21, 2011

    So I have been teaching quite successfully for about four months now in a public school in NJ. It has been going great, principal is great, co-workers are for the most part great. However, being that I have a minute, I decided to come back and check these job search posts out to see how things are going and leave some advice if possible.

    As I stated before, things are going great...but perhaps a little too great. I have volunteered for almost anything that I can help out with. I was a career switcher coming from a technological background, so I help out with computers/networking/presentations whenever I can. This has caused one of the VPs to ask me to teach a course in January to other teachers on how to best use some of our technology. My initial reaction was flattered...I must be making a good impression. However, that is extra time that I could be spending on my students, and when I asked the VP if I would be compensated for my efforts, she kind of looked shocked... I mean, if you want me to do it during the summer or something, I guess I would consider pro bono work, but seriously...this district spends two hundred thousand dollars a year on a technological staff development course. Every teacher in my school could be paid 4k-6k more a year if that course could be taught in house. Fat chance of that happening though...

    Now for the job seekers specifically. I have noticed one prevailing, and alarming, trend in how people are hired. (I guess I bucked the trend, but I was one of only two teachers hired at my school this year by a new principal...I guess a one in a million shot) I would advise those searching to only to continue to do so if you meet one of the following criteria:

    1. You live with your parents, or relative, rent/utilities paid for

    2. You are married and your spouse can support you

    3. You have an amazing amount of money saved up

    Yes, yes...it doesn't hurt to know someone as well, but that is actually not entirely necessary as you can make your own connections if you meet that criteria.

    This is the sad reality of this profession. Every substitute teacher we have is either age 22-25 or a 40+ former stay-at-home mom/dad. Now I don't have a problem with either of these demographics, I love them...however you miss out on some pretty bright people by such limitations. It really stems from the fact that substitute teaching pay is not enough to survive in the area that I live in, yet for so many it is the only way through the door. I have met and spoken with a few people who have been substituting for over three years in my district. All of them are at their wit's end and in the beginning there was actually animosity towards me because I had not subbed in the district prior to being hired. However, that was not my fault...new principal, new rules...but it did highlight another problem. These subs had been barking up a certain tree for years, and then that tree was uprooted and a new way of doing things was implemented. They are not happy and it shows...and I don't blame them. As I broke down the walls of animosity and got to know them, I realized that none of the other teachers really spent any time with these subs and I found that to be a negative thing...I mean what teacher doesn't know that these people are qualified and ready to teach? However, as time wore on, I realized that teachers were not ignoring them because they were arrogant or oblivious. They chose not to befriend them because of the same reason that American soldiers who were at the end of their tour of duty in Vietnam did not befriend the new guys that just arrived...there was a good chance that they would not be around that long. Its a really sad dynamic and should be worked on in some way.

    So essentially, instead of teaching positions being given to those most qualified, prepared, and bright...they are given to those who can survive on next-to-nothing pay-wise for an undetermined amount of time and stay happy about it. Yes, I know...its not that simple and there are exceptions to the rule (I am one of them). However, the exceptions seem few and far between. Good luck to all of those searching!
     
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  3. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Dec 22, 2011

    Actually "knowing someone" IS the deciding factor in being hired in the vast majority of the cases. And it isn't even a matter of "knowing" someone but being RELATED to a current employee that gives people an edge in the few jobs that are available. The only jobs open to outsiders are the so-called "high needs" areas that the nepotisms don't want, and those are becoming fewer and fewer.

    School district systems need to operate on a civil service system rather than a "good ole boy" system.
     
  4. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Dec 22, 2011

    I didn't know anyone when I was hired. I've said it many times but I'll say it again, you can get hired without knowing someone. It certainly helps but it's not impossible.
     
  5. UCLACareerChngr

    UCLACareerChngr Comrade

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    For your comment on assisting other teachers and expecting to get paid for it, while I think you have an argument (it's hard to be asked to do something that takes time), I think your reasoning that it takes time away from the student rings a little hollow...if that was your main concern, I would think you wouldn't do the training even if they were willing to pay you to do it...if you would be willing to put in the extra time, I assume you won't spend less time planning your classes, you will just use some of your (very limited) free time (that you might otherwise spend with family, friends, or sleeping). Not that I'm disagreeing with you - I also have a technology background and am therefore expected to come running whenever someone can't figure out how to retrieve their email, or the computer gives them a funny message after they drop their keyboard...haha. But, sometimes that's the price of having a job - trying to make yourself as invaluable as possible...
     
  6. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    I didn't know anyone when I got hired.

    I can only think of 1 of a dozen or so subs that wants to land a full time teaching job. Most of them are retired teachers.
     
  7. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I have given two workshops at the elementary level for which I was not paid, nor asked for compensation. I have also given a school-wide in-service for which I was compensated for. I think if you are helping your fellow teachers, it's okay to do so without the compensation. You're sharing your knowledge, in a sense.

    About the trends of what you've seen in hiring, I'm not sure I am completely buying that. The way your post sounds, it's almost as if schools are actively seeking these types of persons out, which I don't think is the case, but that's just my opinion.
     
  8. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Dec 23, 2011

    Some of you say you didn't know anybody, but I suppose it depends on the district. I only got a job through my last district because I long-termed subbed in a job NOBODY wanted, and eventually I was illegally terminated from the district (violations of FMLA, age discrimination, etc.). However, nepotism is rampant in public education, so I tend to disregard exceptions to the rule. Qualifications have little to do with being hired in public education--it's all about the connections.
     
  9. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    It does have a lot to do with who you know.
     
  10. NJSocialStudies

    NJSocialStudies Rookie

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    Its not that schools are seeking out these types of people...its that the maximum one can make as a sub, IF you worked all 180 school days here in NJ (which is next to impossible), is a little under 15k a year after taxes. Not sure if you know the average rent in northern NJ, but if you are single and looking for a studio apartment you can expect to pay $1,000 a month. Perhaps if you had a roommate or two you can bring that down slightly to $700 or $800 a month, but not including anything else. Either way, at the low end, 70% of your take-home pay would be going towards just rent a month. Therefore...who can afford to go through this method? As I stated, 22-25 year-olds who still live at home (and whose parents don't charge them for that right, as some definitely do) and former stay-at-home moms and dads (who were already used to a single earner family) are the people that end up showing face the most and therefore make the connections necessary.

    Now don't get me wrong, these people that are hired end up being, for the most part, good teachers. However, my alarm is that most people thinking on entering the teaching profession are oblivious to this.
     
  11. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    There have always been structural barriers like this.

    When I moved to California in 1998, I had a fresh BA and was interested in teaching. LA Unified made it clear in public statements that they wanted teachers. So I went down to the local office to find out how to apply.

    The answer was: apply now (June), take the CBEST ($90), wait until the results come back (July), then maybe an interview, and a job offer at the end of August with absolutely no idea where you'll be until then. Oh, and you have to enter an MA program immediately, and complete it within two years while teaching, to keep working.

    Now, that's all fine. I understand why most of those procedures and timetables exist.

    But I had to get a job. Like, NOW. I could probably wait out the summer if I knew I had a job, but that's it. And I wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea that they just send me wherever.

    So I took the CBEST, but I also applied for jobs at the local university. Within 3 weeks I had a job working at a computing center, making twice what I'd made before my move, with great benefits. I never got a call (at all) from the school district.

    None of this is intended as complaint about the policies themselves. But it was obvious to me at the time that the system really only served those who knew *during* college that they wanted to be teachers. If you popped out already certified, you were fine and already knew the system. If not, the barriers to entry were impossible for many people.

    And I agree with you that the ultimate result is that the education profession misses out on a ton of good people. But can you imagine what it would be like with *more* applicants? I mean, as it stands there are a ton of great applicants for most jobs. Even if education is organized to attract and retain only certain kinds of folks, it seems to be oversubscribed already.
     
  12. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Dec 30, 2011

    KathrineParr

    I had the opposite experience in 1999 in the bay area. I did have some inside information though. I was told take the CBEST and a specific course and you will get hired as a teacher. So I took the CBEST and the course, then walked into the district office in one of the largest school districts in the area and was hired on the spot. I did have to wait three months before starting and I did not know where I would be placed until about a week beforehand. The big thing was having already taken the CBEST. If you were applying in a large school district in 1998 or 1999 and had already taken the CBEST and were willing to work anywhere almost everyone who applied was hired at the time. The person just had to wait until the district got them the emergency credential and the finger printing which could take months.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    200 thousand a year on technology staff development?:eek: I'm having trouble with that one..my northern NJ district was previously with Columbia Teachers College Reading and Writing Project...that didnt cost that much! Are you talking about the purchase of technology in that number or strictly PD?

    As far as sub pay, that's been discussed MANY times in many threads here. It's not viewed as a full time job, the pay reflects that. I agree your demographics for subs is typical, but most subs in my district are not looking for full time positions...they sub while going to school, or to supplement household income. My district does interview, and has hired, from our sub pool.

    This is a tough economy for many careers. NJ has always been a tight market for teachers. With budget cuts, it's become even more so.
     
  14. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    This is true in my area as well. Most subs are not attempting to find a full time position. Every now and then we'll get someone, but usually they are fresh out of college when that happens.
     
  15. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    EMonkey, I took the CBEST that summer, but by the time the results came back I already had a job. I definitely did *not* have a friend like yours to let me know what to do, but I don't think I could have done it, anyway. I graduated from a university in DC, not in California. So they probably did not offer that course and taking it in CA would have delayed employment *even more*.

    I guess my point, related to the OP, is just that the time delays tend to be a barrier for some people. Maybe that's less true now, since it seems like so many college graduates can't find a job right out of school.

    I sort of imagined that my experience would be like what you describe. But they wouldn't even really talk to me. I remember standing in the lobby waiting for the receptionist to acknowledge that I was there. She ignored me. Finally, I just took some paperwork from the shelves on the wall and left. I had a ton of questions, of course, but no one to ask.
     
  16. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Substitute teaching is a major scandal. That is NOT what a person signs for when going through the time and expense for a degree in education, whether undergraduate or graduate. Who can even afford to work for peanuts for years on end in some hope he or she will get a real job, jobs which typically go to the nepotisms?

    In Oregon, sub teachers make $162.50 per day by statute, but remember, there are lots and lots of substitutes in Oregon school districts, even more than in other states, so one cannot even make a living at it without being married or whatever. A single person cannot do it.
     
  17. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Most districts do most of their hiring internally, so it could be well after the school year begins before outsiders are even considered, including the nepotisms. This was for standard contracts, not one-year-only contracts. My old school district allowed transfers right up until the first day of school. I am sure it is true everywhere else in the country because of union contracts allowing it.

    However, there are few or no jobs in education these days--not that there ever were many--and people are fools to even train for teaching.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Some subs don't have degrees in education and I doubt anyone gets an Ed degree to become a sub. View it as an opportunity to get experience, get your name known, make an impression, hone your skills.
    There are many college grads who went through the 'time and expense' for all kinds of degrees other than education who find themselves unemployed, underemployed or not working in their field of choice...this s not a phenomena limited to education.
    I'm not quite sure what the 'scandal' is...at least in my part of the country, education jobs have always been competitive to get. There are no guarantees...
     
  19. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I completely agree with this. When I began to sub, I left a steady job, which paid more, just so I could be out there gaining experience, and doing what I loved. It's not always about the money, even though we do need money because we all have bills. But, there are many things that can be gained through subbing.
     
  20. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    You don't have to hand me the nonsense of the "virtues" of subbing. It is a SCANDAL, period, that people are paid subpar pay just for some remote chance they will eventually get hired. It comes to little more than minimum wage after you've trained for years. Few people can do it unless they have a working spouse pay the bills.

    Let me tell you, as stupid as most principals are, I don't give a rip about being "known" or honing my "skills." Many of the plum assignments go to double-dipping retirees, especially substituting classified work. Subbing isn't real teaching anyway, and I have done both.

    By the way, in Oregon you HAVE to have a college degree and you MUST be certified if you have an assignment of three months or more. Needless to say, there is a giant glut of substitutes in this state. That 162 bucks doesn't go very far if you work only once a week or once a month.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    So tonysam, those who are studying to become teachers are 'fools', principals are 'stupid' and there's no value in getting experience and honing your skills through subbing. One wonders why you would want to stay in this terrible profession. :dizzy::wow:
     
  22. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I don't think I would call it a scandal. It's just the way it is. If someone takes the time to get an education, subbing is likely just one step to his/her bigger goal. Like I said, when I subbed, I did so to learn as much as I could. It wasn't my end goal, but it was a useful way to learn and practice teaching, and I am grateful to have had that experience before getting my own classroom.
     
  23. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Given the lousy economy and demonizing of teachers by the media and privatizers, a person IS an idiot to go into this field now. It's all about getting rid of senior or older teachers because of money and doing away with job protections for teachers in general.

    Nobody in his or her right mind would go into this field nowadays. That is the reality, people. Don't go into thousands of dollars in debt only to have a "career" of only two or three years ala Teach for America.
     
  24. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Tonysam-I do not agree with you at all about your generalizations of admin. Perhaps someone goes into administration because they want to reach more classrooms than just one. Maybe they want to make a difference that affects not just their own classroom but an entire school. I am not sure how you have deduced that principals do not care about children. Your argument seems illogical.
     
  25. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    No, they are not. There is no guarantee you will EVER be eventually hired in public ed if you sub for years and years on end, and it is worse now because of dwindling budgets. You are peddling cliches which may even have been remotely true years ago, but they don't apply now. In fact I was a sub who got a regular job in public ed, but it was a job nobody wanted. Unfortunately, my great principal was replaced by a sociopath who eventually was demoted for sexual misconduct, and he helped damage my career when he tried to get me to cheat for him.

    There is no job security anymore in public ed; many states are gutting tenure laws so that any principal can get rid of you if he or she doesn't like you, and by the way, if you are in a protected class, you aren't protected anyway from being fired on a whim. Not in public ed, which is an entirely different animal than other public employment or private sector work. School districts do NOT follow the law.
     
  26. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    ...and you, tonysam, are peddling bitterness.
     
  27. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Nothing is ever guaranteed. It't not guaranteed that I'll even wake up tomorrow. Or, make it through today, for that matter. But, it is about networking and opening doors of opportunities. It sounds as though you are disgruntled, but coming here and writing negative, false comments about us is not going to help your situation. It sounds like you were/are in a bad place, but attacking us will not help you. Nor does saying false things about us make them true. We here are dedicated and passionate and believe in what we are doing. We have a few Ps here as well, and I can assure you, they aren't idiots. If you are so discouraged and dislike the profession so much, I would suggest looking into an alternate career.
     
  28. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    DNFTT
     
  29. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :spitwater:
     
  30. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    On one hand, you got teachers making $90,000/year.

    On another hand, you have a guy (or girl) peddling the young prospective teacher/sub teacher POV.

    And you have the former (and her acolytes), trying to put the latter into her/his place, telling him that he's bitter and sad and incorrect about his perception.

    His view is not one that's far off base, as to call clueless or whatever. It stems from the fact that funds in public education have dried up. And just like in society, the lowest on the totem pole suffer. To claim that he is wrong, or to try to marginalize them (oh, they mostly don't have degrees. or oh, they are housewives who don't need the money anyway) is short-sighted in itself. You want him (i.e. tonysam) to see your view, why not open your mind to his? Sub pay/treatment is dreadful. The county has seen inflation of probably 40%(?) since the beginning of the decade. Has sub pay seen any sort of cost of living increase?

    It's like a weatlhy person in today's economy saying "what are you complaining about"? to people living in poverty, who are suffering the brunt of the recession. "You don't know what you are talking about..." "You're bitter!"

    Well, duh. Where's the understanding?
     
  31. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I don't disagree with the pay or lack of respect, but anyone entering education not prepared to "wait" for a job is not realistic. Turn on the news...most major news shows are carrying stories about teacher layoffs, loss of tenure, and paycuts. I think most of us understand being frustrated, but the tearing of others apart is just ugly.
     
  32. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Tearing who apart though? I don't get it.
    He said you that getting into this is not a smart move. I agree with that.
    He's called the notion that subbing is a good way to hone your professional skills silly. I tend to agree. I can certainly see where he's coming from.
    And he said (generally), principals aren't especially smart or respectable. And I agree with that to a large degree.
     
  33. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Another one....
     
  34. tired.mom

    tired.mom Companion

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    I know I can research this, and will, but $90K? Teaching? Not admin...? I am in Texas, and our district minimum is about $37k for a first yr. teacher with a max of $55K for 30 years experience. Subs are paid about $65/ day, HS diploma or GED required with no additional pay for education/certification.

    Yes, I do think that's appalling. I did it as a single parent, but resigned to return to grad school. I jokingly refer to teaching as a vow of poverty. (we really don't feel "that" much poorer) I don't regret resigning; I do, however, respect and value my children's teachers and understand how frustrated and stressed they are with all the testing, rules, blahblahblah--been there, done that, got a t-shirt (literally! lol).

    That said, I don't think I would encourage my kids to be teachers unless they really felt the calling. I'd be supportive, yes, of course, but I'd share the reality of the situation as well.

    I do agree with Tonysam that there are a lot of corrupt and shady people and events going on in schools--yes, he's bitter (Or so it seems) but I am willing to bet there is good cause for his opinion. I'll also add that I'm one of the ones who also quit to move on--and while I may teach again, it will not here anytime soon.
     
  35. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    Oh yes, this is true. The average salary for teachers where I live is $90K. This is just average. When I looked at the report of teachers salaries I also noticed that no teacher made less than $60K. Of course, our district is in the top 10% of highest paid in the state so you have some teachers retiring at about $100K or even more. By the way, I don't work in this district.

    Salaries vary of course, the suburb right next to us, which is about a mile away, is at the other end of the pay scale by starting teachers at $30K and with a maximum of $80K. This district however is not very good and teachers face a lot more challenges.
     
  36. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Average teacher salaries by state:
    http://www.teacherportal.com/teacher-salaries-by-state

    I work in NJ in a high performing, high SES district. Teachers with Masters degrees and an additional 60 credits with about ten years in the district make in the range discussed by Marci.
     
  37. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Czacza, what I find so interesting about your link is that clearly NJ has a wide variance in teacher salaries based on district. I wonder how many of the states shown there have such a wide range?

    If so, then knowing the state bottom and average isn't actually super helpful (I am thinking of Waterfall and her interest in Florida) compared to knowing the salary schedule in a particular area. So confusing! If I was job-hunting I'd find it frustrating, too.
     
  38. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Katherine, you're absolutely right! There may be states that have comprehensive salary guides and certainly there are LARGE school distrcts whose salaries equal or surpass ome small states...(NYC for example). Truthfully, when I was first looking for a job, salary wasn't my first concern but certainly it would be a factor, especially when considering moving for a job.
     
  39. NJSocialStudies

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    Dec 31, 2011

    Hmmm, it seems there is a growing divide between young un- or under- employed teachers and their counterparts who have held jobs for a long time. Its sad that the "profession" is not more like others (such as legal or medical) where elder practitioners are the mentors of the young. Yes, I know, I was assigned a mentor after about a month of teaching but I was also in the legal field a while and its just not the same thing...

    I often imagined the education field to be more collaborative than others...however I have seen that it, in some ways, is actually less. There is so much competition to impress administration, and those that don't have skills in certain areas to wow anyone will resort to manipulation and other means to keep their place relevant. I am from NJ and teach there. There is talk of tenure being eliminated, though I doubt it will be, but sometimes the mood of the faculty in general is that its already a foregone conclusion and no one is happy about it...except younger teachers who could then possibly get through the door after dismissals and non-renewals.

    In conclusion, the profession has sort of pitted its younger against its established. Not good for morale. (and yes, I'm sure some places do it right, and you can explain that in future posts if you want to...this is just talking in generalities)
     
  40. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 31, 2011

    Oh, NJSS, please have more faith in our state teachers, both new and veterans. There are great districts in our state where PD is valued, new teachers are mentored by master teachers and by ongoing support through coaches, where administration and community value the expertise of professional educators. I'm so saddened if that hasn't been the case in your NJ district. At a time when we are under extreme scrutiny and criticism from the state, it's important to 'fly the flag' for what we do and to eliminate the backbiting of which you speak...that just hasn't been my experience.
     
  41. NJSocialStudies

    NJSocialStudies Rookie

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    Dec 31, 2011

    In an ideal world that should be how it works. I agree 100%. It is not my experience though...
     

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