Should I take online reviews of my (hopefully) new school seriously?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Em_Catz, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Apr 23, 2013

    I interviewed at new school and the P liked me (she emailed me the next day to say so and that she wants me for next year, but can't draw up a contract until the "Notice of Intent" window closes for our district.)

    Anyhow, I googled the school hoping to find a staff list and came
    upon "www.greatschools.org" which allows people to anonymously review schools.

    The new school I am considering had about 20 reviews over the last eight years, four of which were written during the time the current P has been there.

    Here are the types of things in those four eviews:

    1. The school has a lot of discipline problems and at least 1 - 2 fights a day and the P isn't doing anything about it.

    2. A poster wrote, "Don't let the fact this school is in <middle to upper class neighborhood> fool you. The students curse, the teachers yell at the students and don't discipline well or communicate with parents. Things have changed for the worse since <current P> took over."

    3. The teachers are terrible and they yell at the children and discipline too hard.

    4. The school is overcrowded (30:1)


    I was taking all that with a grain of salt, until I looked up my current school and read reviews and all the reviews (that were dated from the time I was there) were true. :eek:

    What do you all think? Would you take those reviews seriously?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I probably wouldn't let online reviews dissuade me from accepting a job that seemed otherwise good. While there might be some truth to some of the comments, my experience tells me that most of the people who post online reviews have an axe to grind.
     
  4. Scribe

    Scribe Rookie

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    Regardless of the topic, I tend to take online reviews with a pound of salt. Few people take the time to write positive reviews. Who would think to? However, if someone's upset about something they complain to anyone and anything that will listen. 20 reviews over 8 years is hardly a good sample.

    That said, you can find out if they're overcrowded pretty easily. The other reviews are contradictory. Are they too strict or too lax? Is the current P harsh or not? It just seems like a few parents complaining, not satisfied with something or other.

    If you have a good rapport with the P and you have the opportunity, why not broach these? Just ask, "I came across these reviews on this website and I was wondering if you could give me any further insight? I don't believe everything I read, but it did raise some concerns." Remember, you're interviewing them too. It works both ways.
     
  5. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Both of you make good points. I think I am naturally fearful of change and in my gut I keep wondering, "What if I'm leaving a bad place to go to a worse place?"

    I know there's no way to know for sure but it does worry me.
     
  6. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Apr 23, 2013

    Can you visit the campus and get a feel for it? You can sometimes learn a lot from just observing and listening as you walk around!
     
  7. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    That's a good idea! I wasn't offered a tour of the school so maybe if/when the P emails to offer me the position I can ask if she would mind if I came for a tour of the school and if I could see what it's like during the day. Then I could take a half day off work. :thumb::thanks:
     
  8. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Apr 23, 2013

    There are only a few reviews of my school and they sound like they're coming from disgruntled parents.
     
  9. scarletjones

    scarletjones Rookie

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    Apr 23, 2013

    Well we just can't simply ignore the reviews however hard we try. But we can do one thing that instead of simply believing those reviews we can do a little research of our own because at times competitors or those jealous of the people, place leave back a negative review.
     
  10. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Apr 23, 2013

    Investigate if you can. Others are right, negative posts are because people are disgruntled. That doesn't mean the comment isn't accurate or contains some truth.
     
  11. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    That sounds about right. I looked up my first school (which I LOVED) and found the same thing. There were quite a few negative reviews there.
     
  12. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Apr 23, 2013

    There is only one review of my school. It was from two years ago and it couldn't be any further from the truth. It said that my old principal was a bully that bullied kids, parent, and his staff. This man is the nicest man I have ever met. Willing to work with parents. He treated our staff like we were the intelligent woman and men that we are. Even when they did something wring in his eyes he defended them!! Best man ever!!!!!!
     
  13. ravinraven

    ravinraven Companion

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    Apr 23, 2013

    Reviews are usually left by those who have had either fantastic experiences or terrible ones - very rarely by anyone in the middle. I agree with you that you should take them with a grain of salt, but keep an open mind.
     
  14. Scribe

    Scribe Rookie

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    Is it common practice to accept a job without observing the school first? Seems like that would be one of the first things you'd ask to do...
     
  15. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    I guess it depends. If you are only interested in seeing a school after hours (when all the P's I know do interviews) and looking at empty, childless classrooms, then sure, it probably WOULD be the first thing you'd ask to do. Since school's aren't empty during the day with only staff, seems kind of pointless to me.

    My interest is getting a TRUE feel for the school (by which I mean seeing the children and teachers in action). To do that, I would think it's common practice to take leave from your current school to come by during your prospective school's business hours.

    Not sure how things are run in your district, but we have a VERY limited number of personal days, so I use mine sparingly. If you refer to my original post, you'll see that I haven't been offered a position until the "intent" window closes. Until then, this school is a strong MAYBE, but not a definite.

    It's very possible that teachers may put in a last minute "intent to stay" meaning no position for me and 3.5 hours I can't get back.

    Until this window closes, no P can make an official offer because it's possible that people who claim they were leaving might put in a last meant intent to stay.

    Once the P makes me an offer, I would come by the observe during business hours. My interview was after school when things were quiet which told me nothing about the school culture or climate.

    Plus, I've already seen this school without children because we've had several trainings there and my team and I roamed the building during our break looking at things. :)

    Do you only observe schools after hours, or during the day? If during the day, did you use leave?
     
  16. Ms.H

    Ms.H Companion

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    I concur with those who say that online reviewers seem to be decidedly more negative than positive. A lot of the sweeping generalizations seem to be based on very individualized situations and some included flat-out lies. Sometimes I can even figure out who probably posted a review. For example, in my school's reviews, one parent claimed they'd been told that the teachers cannot provide any extra help because they don't get paid enough, when teachers are actively encouraged and even required to post regular after-school help sessions. I tend to read statements like "The teachers yell at the students" as "Once a teacher raised his/her voice at my child more than he/she appreciated" and "The discipline is too hard" as "my student once got punished for something that I disagreed with."

    That said, no harm in checking things out. Hope it turns out to be the good fit you think it is!
     
  17. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Apr 23, 2013

    This. :)
     
  18. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I would take it with a grain of salt. People will complain before they'll praise most times. I looked ours up. Not truly about academics, but complaints about things that I know are completely sour grapes.
     
  19. Scribe

    Scribe Rookie

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    I'm not actually a teacher and I hope my comment didn't come off as condescending or rude! Every teacher I've known has at least subbed in a school before applying or being hired permanently, so I was a little surprised. What I might think is normal could be the outlier, so I just wanted to check. Congrats on the new opportunity (hopefully)!
     
  20. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Apr 25, 2013

    Thank you everyone for the advice. I'm going to give this new place a chance. Isn't that what life is about?

    @Scribe: it's ok! I misunderstood. I thought u were more like "ugh, what kinda idiot accepts a job w/o seeing the bldg?" I hate how stuff gets lost in translation. But it's okay! My apologies for going on the defensive. Unfortunately there are a hand full of people that can be extremely unpleasant and judgemental on here that jump ddown your throat. I'm glad you aren't like that! I'm sorry for reacting as if u were:hugs:
     
  21. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    Apr 25, 2013

    Em, hope you get the job and get away from Mouse poo!!!!

    For what it's worth when I sold my house and needed to rent for a few months (back in Utah) I looked online at reviews for Apt. A lot of them were bad everywhere. The apt I chose because of location to my work wasn't given the best review. It turned out to be fine, because I was a good tenant.

    So take reviews with a grain of salt>
     

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