Reconstituted Schools--Anyone?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Fairborn, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. Fairborn

    Fairborn Rookie

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    Mar 17, 2010

    I'm interviewing Friday for an elementary position at a school that has been wiped clean of all teachers and administrators. It's being "reconstituted" by the school system, an urban, inner-city, medium sized city district. Can anyone help on advice for interview, stories of past experiences etc.?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Mar 17, 2010

    Well..have you thought about how you feel about this process? I was just hired for a teacher residency that places teachers in turnarounds. They asked me A LOT about my views on public criticism and the politics of overhauling schools. You are technically taking over for a teacher who did not leave voluntarily. Not everyone agrees with this. I'm half expecting someone to slash my tires when my new school opens.

    I was also asked a lot about my commitment to teaching in the inner-city and recognizing the challenges that come along with students of poverty. I was surprised to find that there was no extensive discussion of raising test scores, but expect to talk about them anyway. There are always strings attached to doing better on The Test.

    Good luck!
     
  4. MJH

    MJH Companion

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    Mar 17, 2010

    Fresh Start

    In my district they call the schools "Fresh Start". This is my first year being at a fresh start school. When I interviewed these were some of the questions I was asked:

    Why did I want to be at a "Fresh Start" school?
    What qualifications do you have in handling a high poverty student population?
    How do you handle classroom management and difficult students? (My school has a lot of severe discipline problems.)
    What do you know about Balanced Literacy?
    How do you teach reading?
    How do you teach math?
    What do you believe to be the major barrier to student achievement and how do you over come that barrier? (My principal didn't want to hear lack of parental involvement or motivation)
    Explain a typical day in your classroom?
    What qualities and expertise can you bring to the school?
    What can you do to improve the school beside increasing student achievement? (Basically what extras can you do for the school)

    I remembered so many of the questions because once hired the principals asked her first round picks to help interview all other applicants. I had to ask these questions at least 50 times over the summer.

    The previous teachers were allowed to reapply for their position with the new admin but most choose to be placed elsewhere. We do have 5 members of the old faculty still at the school because they reapplied and hired. A few other faculty members reapplied but were denied a position. Those teachers do have harsh feeling about the process but they still have a job and most were placed in their preferred grade level. I have talked to one who wanted to let me know at the beginning of the year that one of my students was to be tested for special services and she felt I needed to know so that it would happen. I met one and she was very nasty towards the students, parents and community. She wished me luck but basically said the school was doomed to fail because of the population.
     
  5. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Mar 17, 2010

    Be prepared for this:

    -Everything changing on a WEEKLY basis
    -Getting written up if you forget to write something on the board or post a certain poster.
    -People from the district AND state walking through your room almost weekly.
    -Extended hours and working during the summer (22 summer days here)
    -Extreme behavior issues (be VERY strict and hold the kids accountable for everything)


    I teach at a school that is on the verge of being one of these schools.
     
  6. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Mar 17, 2010

    That sounds kind of scary. I'd have to know more about the situation, but I find it hard to believe that all problems will go away with a new staff. The students and parents are still the same and they still have the same problems they had before the school was wiped clean.

    I would be afraid of unrealistic expectations and having to work under a microscope. If you're a perfectionist and like a challenge, it might be perfect. If not, you might want to ask a ton of questions in your interview about what happened before and what the plan is to fix it.
     
  7. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Mar 17, 2010

    I couldn't agree more.
    But all the blame is placed on teachers. Students and parents have no accountability. It must be nice..
     
  8. Grover

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    Mar 17, 2010

    As more and more schools fail AYP one time too many and are 'reconstituted' a lot of people will be going through this. I believe out of 3 high schools, 3 middle schools and 10 elementary schools there is only one in the district that is not in AYP jail. By the end of next year most of them will be eligible for a Fresh Start unless, by some miracle, they can pass AYP. This is not very likely because the percentage of students required to pass is going up about ten percent. While they may get a few teachers out of the district in the process, I doubt they can operate the district without retaining 90% or more of the same personnel. For that matter, I doubt there is enough District Staff to implement reorganization of all the failing schools at once. At some point people will have to reject the flawed premises of this whole mess.
     
  9. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Mar 18, 2010

    I don't think anyone's saying that. :rolleyes: Of course students and parents should have accountability. I, on the flip-side, have a problem with teachers who get tenured and twiddle their thumbs for thirty years because "nobody cares" about these "ghetto" children and their "lazy welfare-scamming" parents. It is easy to take advantage of the poor because they don't have options for private school or quality education. Lack of resources and transportation force them to the neighborhood schools where most teachers write students off. I see it every day. I'm sick of it. It's hurtful for the students, and I feel really sorry for the GOOD teachers lumped in with the majority scum at XYZ School.
    They never get the credit they deserve.

    Just this week I witnessed a teacher pause and order a hoagie on her cell phone in the middle of my reading class. Others surf the net or chat with each other. Lesson plans are not prepared well. I've even seen a couple shake children and verbally harass them.

    If this happened in a school full of rich white people, they'd all be fired. Not up to the challenge of the inner-city? Don't try. Just sayin.
     
  10. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Mar 18, 2010

    Well I said it because those are My views.

    My statement was based on this quote from jen

    If anyone was concerned about truly restructuring the schools, they would also hold parents and students accountable by working on ways to change the mentality of the parents and students.

    ....Such as attendance, getting the kids to school on time, volunteering, encouraging the parents to make sure the kids' homework is done, providing the parents with the education and resources needed to make sure their children are properly cared for and ready to learn, and meet the demands of the classroom. Motivation, exposure, I can go on....too sleepy right now.

    Obviously that's too much work, right? It's easier to fire all the teachers, meaning the good with the bad.


    I know the happenings of an inner-city school. The problem is mainly the adults and not the children.
     
  11. Grover

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    Mar 18, 2010

    MsDippel- There are, I'm sure, bad teachers. There are certainly teachers that are not as good as they could be. On the other hand, I do see a pattern of assigning responsibility to teachers for things they cannot in fact control, because parents and students cannot, in current practice, be held accountable and adminstrators won't be- after all, they're doing the accounting. In a schema where all students are expected to become proficient, regardless of their problems or behaviors, blame does devolve, by default, onto teachers. I don't know how things are where you teach, but my wife, for example, is required to teach a very specific Houghton-Mifflin package to the exclusion of all else, to deliver it in a scripted way, in such large blocks of time that no other programs are possible. She finds it very demoralizing to be required to do things that aren't effective when her own strategies have had superior results before Total Instructional Alignment was enforced. Her school is likely to be reorganized in the next two years because no-one is able to make this program effective, and as a recent hire her job is at risk. The several set of child-abusing parents, the drug-addict parents in and out of jail, and the parents who refuse to let their children be evaluated for learning disabilities will continue on as before, and their children will continue their disruptive and self-destructive behavior because nobody is even trying to do anything about them beyond telling my wife to take away their recess. So, I truly do believe there is an unequal and inappropriate assignment of responsibility going on.
     
  12. Fairborn

    Fairborn Rookie

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    Mar 18, 2010

    Thank you all so very much! I've been in the district for a year in a school that I now think is completely out of hand. These are excellent questions to think about in advance. If you have specific questions to ask THEM, please let me know. I'm a new teacher, and it's difficult to get a handle on what "political" or system-wide policy questions to ask. Thanks a million!
     
  13. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Mar 18, 2010

    In order for you to be successful at one of those schools you're going to have to genuinely care for those kids, they'll see right through you if you don't and eat you alive.
     
  14. indigo-angel

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    Mar 18, 2010

    It is easy to take advantage of the poor because they don't have options for private school or quality education. Lack of resources and transportation force them to the neighborhood schools where most teachers write students off. I see it every day. I'm sick of it. It's hurtful for the students, and I feel really sorry for the GOOD teachers lumped in with the majority scum at XYZ School.
    They never get the credit they deserve.

    Just this week I witnessed a teacher pause and order a hoagie on her cell phone in the middle of my reading class. Others surf the net or chat with each other. Lesson plans are not prepared well. I've even seen a couple shake children and verbally harass them.

    If this happened in a school full of rich white people, they'd all be fired. Not up to the challenge of the inner-city? Don't try. Just sayin.[/QUOTE]

    I understand what you're saying...but the accountability MUST be on the parents. It shouldn't be up to schoolteachers to "save the world". Teachers go to school to learn to teach, and that's all they should be expected to do. I am more than aware of the many ills that plague our our poor inner city schools, and it makes me awfully sad. However, the school can't save the community; only the community can. We are living in the richest country in the world, with more acces to resources and information than most places on the globe, there are no excuses. People need to get it together or there will be this constant cycle of playing these little political games about turning schools around and using these bogus methods to teach kids that don't really work, while in the meantime blaming those teachers because their failed strategies didn't work and turning the school around again and repeating the ridiculous cycle. This type of stuff doesn't happen in rich white neighborhoods.
     
  15. Bumble

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    Mar 18, 2010

    I didn't agree about the whole accountability thing until yesterday. There was a HUGE riot in our schoolyard yesterday between parents and children!!! The parents were hitting kids who were not their children!!!! These adults were NOT arrested!


    You MUST MUST MUST MUST care for the children. Set high expectations for them. I tell my students every day that I am tough because I care. Celebrate all of the positives that they do because you just may be the only adult in their lives who does. :)
     
  16. Grover

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    Mar 18, 2010

    "Accountability" is really just a polite word for blame. It's pretty much never used to heap praise on someone. It's important to remember that neither accountability nor blame means the same thing as 'responsibility'. We can blame anyone we want for anything, but no one can be responsible for things over which they have no influence or control.

    The fact is, teachers cannot be responsible for a host of issues that they are being held accountable for. That is, they do not have to power to determine the outcomes. We would not dream of holding a first grader with an IQ of 30 responsible for learning to read 'at grade level' because it's not something any reasonable person believes he can do. However, we routinely hold teachers accountable for the same outcome. Or for the behavior of unmedicated ADHD students. Or for maintaining order with belligerent children whose own parents either cannot or will not discipline them. Or- well, you all know the drill. Caring is a good thing, Bumble, but it doesn't make you responsible for what you can't control.
     
  17. FourSquare

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    Mar 18, 2010

    I don't disagree in the slightest. But just like there aren't 100% bad teachers, there aren't 100% bad parents. Please excuse my language, but my third graders have some real deadbeat ****ers for "family." These adults send them to school in shorts during the winter, refuse to sign school paperwork, don't help them with their homework, shoo them away and let them roam the streets, fight with me during discipline phone calls, etc. It would be really easy to say "screw the lot of them" and just do my best without parental support.

    But I didn't. I've worked really hard to try to keep in touch with parents and understand them. Some of them were like "I can't do a conference because I work three jobs and I'm not available during normal hours." Some of them get that their kid can't read but don't know how to help them, so I do print outs and find resources for them where they can go to educational activities for cheap or free. This takes patience and effort. And no, it doesn't always work, but I'd never have ANY success if I wrote them off as a general "parent" population.

    Schools don't control parents. Schools control school culture. And a culture of negativity put forth by administrators, teachers, and other staff is not conducive to learning regardless of what's going on outside of school. And yet we let it continue because nobody cares. Walk into a wealthy suburban school. It is usually bright, clean, and full of decent teachers who BELIEVE in their students. Inner-city schools get the bottom of the barrel everything, including educators who couldn't cut it elsewhere. Are there exceptions? Absolutely. But those teachers are lost among the majority of burn outs.

    I'm not saying it's not hard and that teachers aren't shafted EVERYWHERE. I have respect for anyone who even attempts teaching regardless of school environment. Testing is out of control. However, I don't think this means we can put aside reflections about what makes a good teacher and how much effort and creativity plays into this.

    Bottom line is that there are teachers NOT TRYING. ON PURPOSE. These people need to go. Everyone else needs more support, development, and a raise. :)
     
  18. Grover

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    I agree with most of this, though I have yet to meet a teacher who is not trying on purpose. I've met teachers who don't know how to deal with the problems they are confronted with, I've met teachers who are mired in despair and hopelessness, but so far I haven't met one who just doesn't care.
    I also think Indigo is off the mark with the idea that parents must be accountable. They are responsible for a lot, but they aren't accountable and can't be- there's no authority with control over their parenting until they break the law, and not much even then. I think being careful how we use the words 'accountable' and 'responsible' will go a long way toward clarifying the real issues here.
    Ultimately students are always accountable for their own learning or lack thereof, whether or not they are in a position to be responsible for it. They are the ones who live with the consequences of whatever education they get, and that's the only accounting that really matters.
     
  19. indigo-angel

    indigo-angel Companion

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    Mar 19, 2010


    You make a lot of great points, and I agree with almost all of them. However, I'm reluctant to believe that inner city students get the worst teachers. From my experience, I have seen a lot of disgruntled, lazy, and jaded teachers who started out very idealistic, determined, and ready to "save the world". After a few years of working hard and doing what they believed was right, seeing little payoff, and getting disappointed, they turn into exactly the teachers you describe. I get concerned when I hear young educators (like myself) saying that bad teachers are to blame for the poor education of our inner city youth. There are lazy teachers everywhere, even in wealthy and middle class suburbs and private schools. They tend to get by because their students perform well and have resources outside of school to help them succeed. We never hear them getting blamed for anything, yet the lazy teachers in the city who usually have more struggles to overcome just to be able to teach, get blamed for everything. I am not defending bad teachers, I'm just saying that they're only a small part of the picture. I understand that you are working with AUSL and I congratulate you on that, but I have been to some AUSL schools and I don't really believe in some of their practices. I would like to hear about your experience there when the time comes.
     

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