Position at "failing" school

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by milteachwife, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. milteachwife

    milteachwife Rookie

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    Jul 15, 2010

    So, A to Z teachers, I sent out about 24 resumes from about April to June and I finally finished my only interview. I'm scheduled for a second interview with the department head, and I was happy until I saw the school's ratings on GREATSCHOOLS. Anyway, it looks like this might be an exceptionally challenging position. I know the job market is tough, but would you consider working at a failing school? I was hoping to be surrounded by great teachers that could help me survive the first year. I don't have the position yet, but do you have any advice. This is a middle grades math position. The teacher turnover has been high and the school is under new management. I see the sad stories posted about non-renewal and I want to work hard not to be in that situation. I have a temporary license and limited classroom experience. I'm working on my MA in Elementary Ed, so I’m a little out of my comfort zone with this age group. Please share your thoughts. :unsure:
     
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  3. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Jul 15, 2010

    1) I think this is probably location specific.
    2) I don't thing that Great Schools will provide you with the most objective opinion- can you look at the schools report card?
    3) Just because the school is "failing" doesn't mean that there aren't wonderful supportive teachers.
    4) Middle school in an "tough school" could be tough or you could be just the right person- you have to know where your own comfort level is.
    5) Knowing that the turnover rate is high, where did you get this info from and are there people that stick it out? Why is it high? (This might be a question to ask at the 2nd interview).
    6) Can you or have you met other teachers on staff?

    Here in Chicago- many of our schools are considered "failing" even though that is the case, there are many schools with wonderful administrations and teachers and many that are not so great or you have a one that's great and not the other. We have been working under a "turn-around" model here since before I entered the district. Now that our CEO is Sec. Of Ed. I think it will be more prevalent. You have to look at why the school is failing too though. Our school had a very high STUDENT turnover rate as we were a receiving school from other schools that were over crowded. Therefore it was hard to make progress when we had new kids EVERY YEAR. While we didn't have a perfect staff or administration and it was tough- we had some amazingly wonderful teachers.

    Ultimately you have to look at yourself- think if this is not your ideal grade- then maybe it is not for you - or maybe you're gonna have a wonderful class and gain powerful experience.

    Around here, typically (but not always) the few "outstanding" schools don't hire first year teachers, you have to do some time first, but everywhere is different.
     
  4. milteachwife

    milteachwife Rookie

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    Jul 15, 2010

    You are absolutely right I do have to put in some time. I should ask about the turnover rate in the second interview. I have not had a single call from a non-failing school. I realize I beggar, not a chooser. Having observations and pre-service experiences in high performing schools seems a little artificial now that I see where the jobs are located. Thanks for your insight!
     
  5. teacher304

    teacher304 Companion

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    Jul 15, 2010

    I agree.

    In this market, jobs are extremely tough to come by and if someone is willing to make you an offer, I'd jump at it. I'm sure in any environment you can learn alot. Sure, there will be challenges, but who knows you may make long lasting relationships that way.

    The saying goes, we don't know anything until we try it ourselves applies. Take the position--do the best you can and if you don't like it you can look for something else next year.

    It will be easier to find something next year if you had this one year of experience than if you did not get a job this year.
     
  6. joe22k

    joe22k Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2010

    I agree that you have to find where your comfort level is at. I can say that I work at a school that would be considered a "failing" school by many and the teacher turnover is high but I am amazed by the dedication of the faculty and their willingness to help. I think most people there know it is a tough school and they want to cut down on the turnover and know the way to do it is by being supportive of new teachers to the school.

    Good luck if you do or don't accept the position!
     
  7. BCPMWK

    BCPMWK Companion

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    Jul 16, 2010

    If you get an offer take it. Just because the school is labeled one way, may not be the full picture. For example, in a high school, if the school had a 92% graduation rate for the last AYP, then dropped to 90% it fails to make AYP. A school in the same district may have had a 68%, but moved to a 69% it makes AYP. :-( Bad system for determining effectiveness, and it is not necessarily clear to the public.
    ^^As a new teacher, you need to know that many times you'll have the BAD classes. The schedule makers will take care of the teachers that they know. So that makes those first two-three years very difficult, no matter what "kind" of school you're in. It's the sink or swim mentality. A teacher who has been at a school for a while may have one bad class, and you may have four.
    ^^Plan well, make faculty friends, try to handle discipline on your own as much as possible, don't refer too many kids to the office, don't complain or talk about any administrators, and you'll probably be able to keep a job. There are many teachers who "tattle" on new teachers, which isn't really fair, so be very careful about what you say around your co-workers. Even if they are really laying it on thick about a principal/rule/situation don't go there!
    ^^You may love your school or your kids. Many times I love the kids as individuals, but dread that class as a whole. As you know, it's always easier to find a new job when you have a job.
     
  8. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Jul 16, 2010

    High turnover is a red flag to me. I went into a middle school position (tough urban school). Every teacher but 1 was new that year, and all were hired from out of the state (tells you something about the reputation of this district...). There was a reason for all of this. The next school I went to had a completely new staff as well. I was told it was for normal reasons, but honestly-what school has an ENTIRE STAFF leave in one year? I also saw the reason for that exodus. So if teachers are leaving a school in this economy, I'm thinking there is a reason for that. And it's not as simple as just 'getting another job next year'. There are horror stories on here of principals running teachers through emotional ringers all year, and then holding up certificates, not giving recomendations, etc.

    I really don't want to discourage you because, yes-it IS a job. But I also want to help others bypass mistakes I made-jumping at a job without looking close enough at everything that came with it, simply because it was a job. A year can be a very long time in the wrong place.
     
  9. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    Jul 16, 2010

    Aw, this is tough. I was all about you taking the job because it might just be a tough population. I know I work in a rough neighborhood, but I have the most supportive staff I have ever come upon. Everyone there WANTS to be there, and loves what they are doing. The high turnover rate is what concerns me. I think it's a very valid question to ask at an interview. I know in this area, a lot is due to the military, and husbands being stationed elsewhere. It could also be women that have a baby and want to stay at home to raise their children!
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 16, 2010

    Keep in mind... the high turnover was with the old administation.

    In 1987 I had the opportunity to be one of the founding faculty members of a new school that was opening in the building of one being closed.

    I won't lie; the first two or three years were tough. We had fights in the hallway and some turnover as we defined exactly what we were.

    But now, 23 years later, we're bursting at the seams at a time when Catholic high schools are closing all over the nation. And every single time I write about my school, it's to brag.

    I say you take the job, and go in prepared to redefine that school.

    Good luck!!!
     
  11. Irissa

    Irissa Cohort

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    Jul 16, 2010

    Also if they have a new administration this year many of that exodus may have left to go with their old principal. I've seen that very often.

    I think your main determining factor should not be that the school is failing. Like many have said failing is not really fairly determined. Take a hard look at the principal and look for clues about his philosophy education. I often ask about what a principal might do if he came into a school and found a toxic culture. What he would do to help a teacher who was having issues. And also about how often he checks lesson plans and does walk throughs. Also since he is new there too I'd ask about his plans for the school. These all give me a clue about whether he will be supportive. I've had 3 great principals (all at the same school thus I've seen that turnover) but I also had a principal who made my life hell. (The 1st oh if I only knew what to ask back then.)

    Good Luck.
     
  12. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Jul 16, 2010

    Alice what a wonderful statement. I totally agree with you. I was recently part of a class. The instructor said that if a child goes to the worst school in the worst district, but by luck of the draw has one outstanding teacher each year, then that child has actually had the "best" education. The same is true of the opposite situation. A child may have gone to the "best" school in the best district, but by luck of the draw, may have had the worst teachers each year. That child has actually had a poor education. The one constant is that the TEACHER matters. Teachers that are willing to do the hard work to make bad situations work can turn around schools. I guess my question is... What kind of a teacher do you want to be? :thumb:

    By the same token, there are some working conditions that I would not put myself into because I know that I would be happy. And ultimately, it is about being happy. I could not work in an environment that does not promote professional learning, student growth, and has an overall negativity that children cannot succeed because of circumstances. I don't believe that and won't be a part of that kind of thinking. The thinking that ... "This is the best that these kids can do"... is not acceptable thinking. Just my :2cents:
     
  13. milteachwife

    milteachwife Rookie

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    You must be a sage. I bet I couldn't buy better advice. Thank you BCPMWK!
     
  14. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Whoops-didn't see there was new administration. That can make a HUGE difference.
     
  15. milteachwife

    milteachwife Rookie

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    " if a child goes to the worst school in the worst district, but by luck of the draw has one outstanding teacher each year, then that child has actually had the "best" education."

    This is goos stuff. I know how to gage my kids' performance in school. Hey that's my job! But the quote above is motivating. I touches my heart. I want to make a difference. So if I am offered the job I will take it, tough school or not. The students are what matter most, and they will learn especially if I'm their teacher. Thank you all for the kick in the butt and words of inspiration. Now, let me tell you all that I must be honest with the principal and tell him that I will be moving before the end of the first semester. So, I probably won't get the job. Teachers report here on Aug. 2nd and I know he find a better candidate. I was ready to jump on my first good prospect, but after doing the math it would cost me over $600 a month to drive to this job. I'm thinking it is just not meant to be. I got to hold out for something better. But at least I have come to the understanding that failing is not necessarily bad, there's just room for improvement. :thanks::sorry::wub:
     
  16. brejohnson88

    brejohnson88 Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2010

    I think this would be a wonderful opporunity to learn alot. I know lots of people that went into this field to teach in enviornments like this. I think it would be a wonderful opporunity to inspire the students and the other teachers around you. I think that the job market is horrible right now, so If you get an offer I would take it. When the economy is better in a year or two, then you can be picky.

    How is the area around the school? My boyfriend did get a job offer in a very very tough area in Chicago. He wanted a job so bad, but it was not a safe area to be teaching in. People were always getting shot. They had security at the elementry school! I would also look into this and see if you think your personality and who you are as a person would fit into an enviornment like this if that is the case. Good luck.
     
  17. Jedi74

    Jedi74 Rookie

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    Catholic schools are closing all over the nation?
     
  18. milteachwife

    milteachwife Rookie

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    Jul 18, 2010

    That would really suck! I've got 4 kids. Catholic schools were the only private school in the CO Springs area that would give me a discount for multiple students! Bless em, please don't let them close!
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 18, 2010

    Not as a group.

    But each year sees the loss of a number, due to decreasing enrollment. People simply cannot afford tuition.

    Perhaps I was wrong, and it was only a regional thing? I would be thrilled to hear that they were flourishing elsewhere.
     
  20. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Jul 20, 2010

    They are closing in my area of Pennsylvania too--we have had 3 close their doors for good this summer. :-\
     
  21. cmw

    cmw Groupie

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    Jul 20, 2010

    Of 4 I worked at near Cleveland 3 are now closed. The one that is open is due to vouchers where the parents don't have to pay.
     
  22. nogenrewriter

    nogenrewriter Companion

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    Jul 20, 2010

    I totally commend you for looking into these things. Last year, I accepted a job without knowing anything about it and wish I had held out for something better. I learned alot, but now it's time to move on.
     

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