Nightmare Jobs-- how to avoid

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by MotherGoose, May 25, 2012.

  1. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 25, 2012

    Nightmare Jobs-- we need a warning!

    After reading the post below about someone's account of a nightmarish year, it prompted me to ask what I have long wondered and have unsuccessfully searched for:

    Is there a website or forum that is dedicated to reviewing or rating schools or districts as potential employers??

    If not, there needs to be! Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to investigate a school and get the "low-down" before accepting a position?

    If I could have read a review from the previous teacher in my current position and why she left, I would have never accepted it and saved myself the year from hell.

    And now, I have been so traumatized by this year, that I am too terrified to change schools because of the unknown, if that makes sense. I actually just turned down a job at a better school and decided to just make it work where I am at (by making demands for change, which they have agreed to, so they don't lose me), because I am now paralyzed by the new fear of the same year happening all over again at new school.

    Just wondering if anyone else has thought of this question, or even knows of a website!
     
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  3. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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  4. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 25, 2012

    Thanks, but I have been to this website already and have only found a few parent & student reviews--- I am wanting reviews left by faculty or former employees.

    There is a website called "rate my teacher"--- I am thinking along the lines of "rate my principal"...
     
  5. anewstart101

    anewstart101 Cohort

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    May 25, 2012

    Ditto Ditto Ditto I have been through this -- this year -- the unknown scares me! I have three interviews next week. Sometimes you have to take a risk!
     
  6. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    May 25, 2012

    I think you can get a feeling during your meeting. Most people don't have split personalities. If they seem nice, they are nice. If they seem like a jerk, well...
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    May 25, 2012

    There actually is a website that rates employers, I found out it by typing in "what is it like to work in -------- school district?" It was forever ago, so I don't remember the exact name. However, it was hard to find actual reviews for specific schools. I found an average salary, average class size, etc. There was a place for reviews but people hadn't done them. Maybe other districts actually have them though.

    One thing I do is arrive about 20 minutes early for interviews and kind of just "watch." I'm very reflective and pick up a lot from just sitting and watching people. How does the secretary interact with people? Are teachers pleasant when they come into the office, or do they look haggard and/or are they always coming in to complain? How do kids that come into the office look? How do teachers interact with the principal in an informal way (before or after the interview, not during)? Do they seem to "shrink" or get quiet when she's around or do they look comfortable? This can be a great indicator for the overall feel of the school. Also pay attention to the positions that are open. If one school has 15 openings, that's a big red flag- why are so many people leaving? I noted that my district had many openings, but my specific school that I'm going to only had my position open. You can always look at test scores to see the overall performance of the school, but personally I don't care about that. My current school is the lowest performing in the district, but has the best work environment by far. A school with predominantly low ses or ELL students is bound to have lower scores- the teachers and admin could still be great in that building.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 26, 2012

    I haven't heard of such a website, although there might be one. I guess I'd be hesitant to take any comments on such a website at face value. The people posting "reviews" probably have some sort of axe to grind. The things they say might be exaggerated or simply untruthful. I would imagine that people who are content or happy at their jobs don't see any reason to point about it on a website like that.

    I think you could learn more by talking with and watching people who currently work in the school.
     
  9. Nichole906

    Nichole906 Rookie

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    May 27, 2012

    I know some larger districts conduct climate surveys of teachers, students, and/or parents and post the results online on their schools websites. The surveys ask the people taking them to rate things like the atmosphere and respect in the school, how much learning takes place, safety, etc. You just have to do a little digging. Start with the district website and then try the information pages about each individual school.
     
  10. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Connoisseur

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    May 27, 2012

    I'm just going to say this. My first school on the "outside" looked like a great school. In fact my three oldest kids went to school there. I respected all the teachers and thought highly of the principal. That is until I was actually a teacher there. Teachers weren't the problem, it was the principal who was a micro-manager, and stabbed people in the back if she thought she could get away with it. As a parent I would still send my kids there if we stilled lived there, but as a professional I would never want to go back there, EVER! I think until you are in the trenches of a school you will never know the real story of that school.
     
  11. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    May 27, 2012

    :thumb:
     
  12. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

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    May 28, 2012

    I agree! I was offered a job at an out of state school (that I declined for a number of reasons), but the teachers all called the principal "Dr. ______", which I found odd. They said that she was great and really wanted to help teachers, but yet they didn't seem completely comfortable around her either...oh, and that school did have a high staff turnover. Not that the staff uncomfyness would've been a dealbreaker, but it was definitely something I noticed.

    I also agree that test scores can't always show work environment. The school I'm at now is lower performing than others in the district because of different student populations, but we have a great work environment and our staff and admin are excellent. The same year I interviewed for this job, I also interviewed for a wealthy school in another district that I think I would've felt very intimidated working in.

    Seeing informal interactions within the school is a good indicator of its environment! :)
     
  13. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    May 28, 2012

    I agree with waterfall as to getting there early and observing. Also I feel a website with reviews would not be helpful....I feel like you should go into a job with an open mind rather than a preconceived notion you got from a disgruntled employee. Think about ratemyprofessor.com if you used it when u were incollege ...
     
  14. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    May 28, 2012

    Look at the reason behind why a school has a lot of positions open. It could be a new school opening up. Or, especially in the case of a charter school maybe even private, a new management company or principal is coming in.

    I agree with what the others have said, really look at the principal. Does he/she make you feel comfortable? How do other people interact with the P & how does the P respond to them? With my P it's easy to tell when he's having a rough day, then he's Mr. P, at other times it's his first name.

    Is the building well kept? Trash picked up off the floor? What is the feel of the building? Although, the feel of my current building in the summer was cold, barren, & old. I still took the job, settled in & love the school with all of its challenges & rewards!
     
  15. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    May 28, 2012

    If you have the chance go to workshops with other teachers. Get to know them. Talk to them about their work environment.

    I've always worked in charter schools and I have learned that there are some managment companies & principals that I would not work for. I'm beginning to feel that way about some authorizers too.
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    May 28, 2012

    I was thinking about this, and wondering how it would be received if a candidate asked this in an interview? We have many, many positions open in the school I'm leaving, but that's really not necessarily because the school is a bad place to work. A lot of it is due to personal circumstances. I guess it would depend on what the candidate was willing to put into the school...

    2nd grade opening- Teacher has 3 young kids and is literally paying more than she makes per month for daycare. She wanted to keep working, but financially it made no sense as she would literally be paying to go to work.

    Science opening- Teacher has one young child and a baby. Our school follows a special learning program that requires some outside commitments, such as several overnight field trips a year (no extra pay). We also have PD or meetings starting really early before school several days a week, again unpaid. The teacher is going to a more "traditional" school as the "extras" were just too hard on his family.

    Title 1 opening- Non renewal due to performance.

    4th grade opening- Money. Teacher is single and feels she can't make enough to make ends meet on her own in this very expensive cost of living area. She's moving away from the "resort town life."

    Spanish opening- Money. The position is part time and the teacher wants full time.

    Middle school sped opening- Teacher is pregnant and wants a full year leave. She is not sure she wants to return to work at all.

    My position- Liked the school, hated the area. I'm not terribly outdoorsy and that's all people around here do. There is nothing else to do even if one wanted to. It feels cut off from everything. The nearest city is 2.5 hours away- and with it the nearest shopping, entertainment, etc.

    School Psych opening- According to our district, she is paid the same as a teacher. She went to school for 8 years and has advanced degrees. This field is fairly in demand in our state. She actually loves the area, but is going somewhere where she can be fairly compensated for her degree.
     
  17. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    May 28, 2012

    Waterfall,

    I think asking why they are looking is a reasonable question to ask, if it hasn't already been stated. My school has several "openings" not because people are leaving but because we're added classes.
     
  18. crosscountryski

    crosscountryski Companion

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    May 28, 2012

    Hi

    I was in a similar position this year. I made the decision to do what is healthy and right for me. I got tired of the stress and games and made the decision to leave for my own mental health.

    If I knew the issues that my school had before I arrived such as the politics and preferential treatment for one particular religion group, I would have never signed the contract. I could have avoided a year from hell. Instead, I suffered from depression.

    I was interviewed at a job fair and thought that the principal and sped director were great. When I arrived to school, I found out that not only have the principal retired, the sped director did as well on top of the teacher that I was replacing. It was blind leading the blind. I had to be on guard every minute of the day to protect my license from my sped director who would tell me to do things against the law. My sped director was a school psy who had no background working as a sped director. The principal always went to me if he had questions about special education because the sped director was clueless. This put me in a difficult situation.

    thanks
     
  19. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    May 28, 2012

    I'm wondering if the P would be honest about the reasons for the openings? I know at my school many of the positions are open because teachers were non-renewed or didn't like working there. I wonder if our P would actually say that...

    I did arrive early to where I work now and LOVED the secretary as I got to talk to her for awhile before my interview. I really connected well with the interview committee. Unfortunately, they were bringing in a new P and he hadn't been hired yet so I didn't get to meet anyone I'd actually be working with. I interviewed with the P who was leaving and the teacher who was retiring. Oh well, live and learn!
     
  20. slippers

    slippers Rookie

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    Jun 2, 2012

    Yes, that's me who had the nightmare year. I am still a little shakey and have moments of fear, depression and paranoia. lol!

    I am sure this will pass in time but it was an emotionally very challenging year.

    In retrospect, I knew it would be hard and when I visited the school several times I felt the students, staff and teachers were very unfriendly. In my desire to teach I overlooked those things and felt: I am such a good teacher and a positive person, I can overcome this!

    One student I asked a question to was very rude to me and I thought that was odd. But looking back, even the office secretaries were really unfriendly and so what can I say. I knew it going in. Your gut is the best indicator. Visiting schools now for substituting in the fall or whatever, I can immediately feel a positive or negative impression. I just love happy schools where the front office secretaries are smiling and warm and friendly!
     
  21. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    Jun 2, 2012

    I guess if the principals won't tell you the reason for all the openings, you could always read the board minutes to see who resigned.
     

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