Positive experiences teaching in an urban and/or charter school?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by heyitssteph, May 5, 2015.

  1. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2013
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 5, 2015

    I am wondering if anyone has had a positive experience working for a school in a rougher and/or low income area, or if anyone has enjoyed working in a charter school especially one that is located in such an area. I have a few friends who enjoy their jobs working in charter schools, and I would like to hear some more opinions. I have heard that in some ways, working for a charter school is actually less stressful than an average suburban school. I do realize it's not for everyone.

    Just in case it matters - I am 26, single, I don't want kids for another 5-10 years, and I live in the Chicago area where it is tough to get hired for a teaching job in any middle class suburban school district within reasonable commuting distance of the city, unless you have an ELL and/or special education endorsement. I am currently finishing my master's degree in education.
     
  2.  
  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,772
    Likes Received:
    999

    May 5, 2015

    I work at a continuation school (court school) in a very high poverty area, and can only say positives. I love my job.

    I think when you work at a rough school, your job is easier in a way because everyone (including admin and the higher ups) know what you're dealing with, so there are procedures in place (for example at my school armed probation officers, metal detector, strict dress code, turn in all personal property, etc etc) and there is assistance available if you need it. And everyone understand that issues will come up, no one expects perfect.
    Now, if you work at a rough school, but your safety and sanity is not assured, and your admin is not supportive, then I'd avoid the school completely. You must do your homework before you accept a position.

    Also, it can be a great resume builder, because your next prospective employer will see that if you could handle that school, you could handle anything. And you learn so much!!
    I can't tell you how much i have learned over the past 2 years, not only in classroom management, but with consistency, patience, how to deal with at-risk and extremely troubled youth, how to differentiate (still have to learn more), and how to go with the flow.
     
  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,507
    Likes Received:
    1,481

    May 5, 2015

    I student taught at a charter in Chicago and loved it. However, I found a job in my current city working for a charter managed by the same non-profit, and it was miserable! I also interviewed with another one just a couple of months ago. None of the schools were in REALLY rough areas, but they were all in urban areas where the kids had seen and heard things I wouldn't have even imagined at their age. In my opinion, the kids aren't really what makes the job difficult, at least not at the elementary age. I really think it depends on the individual school climate and the admins. Based on my experience, charters expect teachers to put in more hours and do more paperwork, on top of being excellent teachers in the classroom. Of course, this varies from place to place and school to school, but that's my experience based on the charters I've experienced in Chicago and my current city.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    5,881
    Likes Received:
    753

    May 5, 2015

    As far as charters go you really need to do your research first. I don't know anyone personally IRL who has had a positive experience, but I know some posters here have. Definitely look at the amount of staff turnover that the school has- if it is high, I would not apply even if they can seemingly give a good reason.

    As far as working in an urban environment, how much does student behavior bother you? Personally, I have all of the patience in the world for low academic skills but kids with major behavior problems drive me nuts. I worked in an "inner city" school for one year and the behavior was out of control, to the point where very little teaching was even going on. I currently work in a low SES but not "inner city" district, and we still have some major issues, but the severe problems are limited to a handful of students per grade level and not 10-12 kids per classroom like my inner city school.
     
  6. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Messages:
    2,653
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 5, 2015

    I've worked in two charters (currently in one). The first was in a low income area, but my current one is in a more middle class, suburban area. I've loved them both. You do need to do your homework. Charters, like regular public or private schools, can be wonderful or terrible. I think this largely depends on the school's leadership.

    The workload is really comparable to public school in the ones I've been in - but for me, the stress level is probably lower, especially at my current school. Stress level really depends a LOT on admin and support offered to teachers. I've worked with amazing, positive, and innovative teachers at both charters.

    I love that charters manage themselves. Decisions are not handed down from the giant district bigwigs on high; they're discussed at school level and determined based on the needs of the students at that particular school.
     
  7. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Messages:
    696
    Likes Received:
    101

    May 6, 2015

    I used to work in a charter school before moving abroad to teach, and I LOVED it. My school was in a high poverty area. We had really great leadership, so this helped a lot.

    I would encourage you to check into teaching charter. It's not for everyone, yes, but do your homework if you see a job posting of interest.

    Also, I found this a lot when working at my old school--the kids are there because they want to be there (not the case for all of them), but many kids came to my charter because they had a really bad experience in the public schools in our area. They could be themselves at our charter and because of this they WANTED to come to school each day and liked being there. This was really helpful when managing behavior.
     
  8. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,383
    Likes Received:
    1,724

    May 6, 2015

    I currently work at an urban charter school and really quite enjoy it. My admin is great and energetic, and that helps a lot.
     
  9. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2013
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 6, 2015

    Thanks! Do you think working in a charter school means you need to have a different teaching style or be a certain personality? I'm definitely looking into future opportunities at a number of charter schools in my area :)
     
  10. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2013
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 6, 2015

    Well I'd like to teach grades 5-8 (will have two middle school endorsements) so I would expect some kids to have some behavior problems. I would not want to teach in school where the behavior problems are out of control, such as the one you experienced. I'm not afraid to write a detention slip when necessary, however ;)
     
  11. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Messages:
    696
    Likes Received:
    101

    May 6, 2015

    Honestly, I don't think so. At my charter we had many different personalities, teaching styles, and so on. My charter was a performing arts school (grades 7-12), so we had a colorful mix of people. It was fantastic. We had teachers who were really artsy and had non-teaching background (our assist. principal was a former working musician) and we had veteran teachers who had taught in the district for years. Then we had many people in between.

    I had friends who were very traditional in their teaching and used lecture based classes, and then I had friends who only did project based learning the whole year. It was really great because our admin allowed us to have the freedom to teach in the style we wanted as long as standards were being met.

    I honestly think that it is up to you as to what your style is, unless your school asks you to try and teach a certain way.

    While working in a charter it's necessary to be flexible and understand that because it's not run by a district policies from admin might be adjusted or changed in a fast manner. This can be a great thing or a bad thing. Again, it just depends on the leadership at a charter.

    Good luck in your search! :)
     
  12. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2013
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 6, 2015

    Thanks! I would love to work in an environment with diversity among the teaching staff - diverse ages, personalities, teaching styles, etc. Sounds like that may be a benefit of working at a charter school :)
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    May 7, 2015

    Everyone I know who has worked in a charter school has hated it. There are good charters out there, but you have to do your research to find them.

    I teach in an urban/inner-city/whatever-you-want-to-call-it public school. It is definitely challenging, but I've enjoyed it for the most part. There is a greater focus on behavior issues than academics, at least at the beginning of the year while you are setting the stage in your classroom. Things that happen outside school have a huge impact on what happens in your classroom--kids not eating healthy foods (or enough foods), not getting enough sleep, not having glasses or other medical care when necessary, experiencing violence at homes and in their neighborhoods, etc. Parent involvement is iffy. You have to be willing to accept all these issues as part of the deal and be willing to find workarounds. If you can, then it can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    May 7, 2015

    I'm not sure that charter schools have a monopoly on staff diversity.
     
  15. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Messages:
    696
    Likes Received:
    101

    May 8, 2015

    True, Caesar. I was really lucky in my last school.
     
  16. teacherguy111

    teacherguy111 Cohort

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    574
    Likes Received:
    30

    May 8, 2015

    I work at a public STEM magnet school. It's not a charter school but it's also not part of any other district. It is partially publicly funded and partially funded by the university in the area.

    50% of the kids come from the city school district in the area. And 50% come from other districts. The school has had great success, it is a lot of work for the teachers though.
     
  17. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Messages:
    1,016
    Likes Received:
    38

    May 25, 2015

    I work in a very low-income urban area and I love my school. 95% of my daily life is positive. Our administration is great- super supportive of teachers and they handle issues quickly. The vast majority of our teachers are fantastic and really seem to enjoy teaching. There's another HS just a few miles away with the same population, same district, etc and the teachers are miserable. They have 3x as many behavioral problems and their test scores are nearly half ours.

    The difference is admin, hands-down. If you have a great, supportive administration, any school environment will be a positive one. With a horrible admin, any environment can suck.
     
  18. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Messages:
    696
    Likes Received:
    101

    May 25, 2015

    Agreed!
     
  19. Ashoksahu

    Ashoksahu Rookie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 29, 2015

    In such cases area doesn't matter when you are happy with your job. While you are not happy what you are doing then this matters.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. RainStorm
Total: 701 (members: 2, guests: 681, robots: 18)
test