Small, rural private school vs good suburban public school?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Pisces, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. Pisces

    Pisces Companion

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    I am passively looking for positions. Nothing much has been posted due to schools not knowing how they're opening up this fall.

    Those of you working in rural areas, what are your experiences like? A small, christian school posted a position but I am afraid that they're going to make me coach or pile on a ton of extra responsibilities! In addition, I am thinking about returning to public school in the suburbs.

    What's it like working at a rural school versus a suburban one?
     
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  3. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I’ve only ever worked in a rural school. The whole small-town setting isn’t for everybody, and rural schools can sometimes be very clannish. It can be an adjustment for outsiders. The majority of our teachers are from here or have ties to here. We get very few people who teach here otherwise, and often they leave within a few years. I grew up in the town where I teach, so it is normal for me. DH teaches in a school somewhere between rural and suburban. We have a lot of similarities. My school has a much higher poverty level. I really love my school, though.
     
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  4. Pisces

    Pisces Companion

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    Is your school big? This particular position wants someone to basically "be the science department" and teach 5 different classes. I am assuming this is the case because the school is small? I've never taught 5 different classes before.
     
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    My school has grades 6-8. Each grade has two language arts, two math, two science, and two social studies teacher. Well, 6th only has one science and one social studies. They rotate, so they don’t get both every day. There are between 150 and 200 kids per grade level.

    Our district has one preschool, one K-2 building, one 3-5 building, a 6-8 middle school, and a 9-12 high school. I do know some smaller districts with either K-8 or 6-12 in the same building. They do sometimes need people to teach multiple grades.

    I taught four grade levels one year, and three another year. For many years everyone taught two grade levels. Now we all teach one.
     
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  6. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    My worst two years teaching was at a public school in the county in a rich area. I was so excited to get that job; I thought I had landed my dream job. I had worked in Title 1 schools for about 10 years before that. It wasn't the kids (amazing angels) or the parents (super nice, bought me gifts).

    The problem was 90% of the teachers. They were rude and stuck up. They also did not treat any struggling learners well at all. There were a few good teachers in the bunch, but not many. The treatment of the children left me in tears many days. The principal had no backbone and wouldn't stand up for the children! This was just MY EXPERIENCE! Not casting judgement on all school staff in wealthy areas.

    I left after two years and went back to a Title 1 School in the same county.
     
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  7. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    How much is pay a concern for you? My number one thought when hearing "small, rural Christian school" is low salary.
     
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  8. Pisces

    Pisces Companion

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    You have a good point that salaries are going to be low at smaller private schools.
    I think I am just a little "desperate" (I hate that word) because not that many jobs are being posted due to coronavirus.
    I would like to start applying and put myself into the candidate pools but haven't heard anything yet.
    I guess I will keep waiting and the right opportunity for me will pop up.
    I am trying to focus on "me" in the meantime.
    It's been a rough year and I am kind of recovering from the mental / emotional toll.
     
  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    We did not lose any positions. There were a few absorbed at the district level, I believe. That’s possible in a small district. We hired a few teachers right at the end of the school year. Kids ended May 8, and teachers worked until May 14. There were some people hired at the elementary level, too.
     
  10. mrsf70

    mrsf70 Companion

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    I have worked in small parochial schools, a large urban district, and now a medium- sized rural/suburban district. The culture of a building is everything, no matter what the size or SES. In the parochial schools, one was extremely small and very much like a family. The other was medium-sized and run by a tyrannical administrator who created the most toxic environment I've ever worked in. In the large urban district, I worked in the toughest middle school and had amazing colleagues. I also worked in the "dream" middle school and found it to be clique-ish, petty, and catty. Now I am in a medium-sized public school with fairly low SES and outstanding admin and colleagues. Do your research, get a feel for the building in each interview you have, and go from there.
     
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  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Working in a private school and knowing others who do, I can say that private schools vary incredibly from one to another. Some can be described as a "dream come true" and some as a "nightmare come true." Just because a school is private and in a rural area tells me very little. What to do? First, find out who is running the private school. Some are run by churches, some are run by businesses, some are run by individuals. Some are accredited and some are not. If they are not accredited, personally I would avoid teaching at any unaccredited school for a whole lot of reasons.

    If you want to be open to teaching at an unaccredited school, then you need to find out everything you possibly can about that school. I have known personally some who have taught at unaccredited private schools, and I wouldn't wish their experiences on any teacher. Get close and try to find out everything you can about that school.

    I almost applied to a particular private school, and then I found out over 90% of the teachers quit or were fired the year before. Therefore, I searched more and found a wonderful private school that values teachers and students. If you do your homework and avoid the stereotypes, you'll be glad you did. Not everything that sparkles from the outside is a diamond. Good luck to you.
     
  12. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Comrade

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    I worked in a small rural public school. About 200 kids, grades 9-12. It was a really wonderful school, everyone was very friendly, and the principal was amazing. The hard part for me was that I was the only 11th grade English teacher, so I was responsible for all EOC tests, and since we were on a semester schedule, I did it twice a year. Testing in october, then in December, then in March, then in May. I also did all the Saturday and after school tutoring for that test. The kids were great, and my coworkers were amazing. If I hadn't had the testing part, I would have stayed longer, but we also got a horrible principal, that drove half the school to leave.
     
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  13. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    I spent yrs in a city school. It was organized, ran like a machine, and kids learned. Expectations academically were high for both teachers and kids. Parents were held to a much higher standard too.
    There were consequences for actions. Consequences for teachers and kids were pretty black and white, but you always knew where you stood.
    Teachers and admin often stood together to get things done. I worked my butt off too, as did many others.
    It was a huge growth experience when we moved to a small town. I have never really gotten used to it. The academic expectations are way lower. Excuses are made too much imo.
    Rules are not organized or followed which makes for chaos in a school at times.
    The past time of many people here is to talk about other people. It took me years to realize that they had learned to relate to others this way and academics are not valued. Rumors fly, and get stretched way out there. You never are sure what is true or not.
    Teachers who will put academics on hold to do community work are highly valued. It is a different world in small towns if you are not used to them. I have had kids ask me, " Do you know who I am?" Then they'd say, " I am a _______" (insert last name of some family who had been there forever).
    I will never forget the 1st kid who said that to me. I was like, " I don't care who you are, you need to get your hands off of him." He was a young kid too. Fortunately, I did not get backlash over that one.
    Some parents like his have the ability to destroy your reputation if they don't like you. They gather the old timers around and attack. 1x before knowing this, I gave a kid the grade they deserved. You'd think I was the most horrible person on this earth if you talked to that family or their friends.
    I was told by admin to never do that again and we switched to standards ( fortunately) right after that. It is every man for themselves where I work. There is a small exception with close friends . P's won't back you b/c they need their jobs. They get "run out of town" too.
    I am so thankful I have met a couple of teachers and parents who helped me navigate the system. Now I am known by many of the "old timers." I still prefer city schools from country schools. That is just my own experience.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I saw a very similar dynamic at a school I moved to after many years in large, urban schools. Really, I could have written much of your post myself, with a few interesting extras. I think that I navigated the small-community school well, but maybe only because I’ve been in the game so long. If I were a newer, less experienced teacher, I think I could have easily fallen into some traps. As it was, I think I did bother some people with the way I handled certain issues and my unwillingness to, like, live at school. It was definitely an atmosphere that I was only partly prepared for, and I legitimately thought that I was prepared for most things.
     
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  15. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    I survived it....lol I was experienced too, but bewildered by attitudes. If I had not been open to listening, reflecting, and making sense out of nonsense, I probably would not have survived. Also, some decent people helped me at times. I learned to not care so much what people said and let go of garbage I had never dealt with before.
    Also, I never bought into the idea of community over academics which often made me very different than others. By the time I started teaching in a small town, I knew standards of grade levels and actually did not work as hard. I saw the school and community would suck you dry if you let them. Then they'd eventually expect and find fault with those who did a lot of community stuff. I figured if they are just going to criticize people who help eventually, I wasn't burning myself out over it all.
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I feel like maybe you and I worked at the same school.
     
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  17. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    It is possible, but I think small towns often have people who have never experienced the rest of the world. Many feel like big fish , but they are in a small pond. It is actually sad that many were so limited in their experiences that they didn't know any better. I am DONE this year and very happy not to be returning next fall. I feel like I have been given back my freedom of speech card and plan on using it....haha
     
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  18. Pisces

    Pisces Companion

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    I just finished my 10th year of teaching and 2nd year of being at an Independent school. I know what you mean about people thinking they're big fish in a small pond but they're really not.
    I didn't appreciate the culture of "disdain for public education" that comes from people at the independent school(s) and I also don't appreciate the "I'd never teach there because I'd be so bored" culture from public educators when they find out I work(ed) at an independent school. (Yes, I had someone say that to me during an interview. I turned the position down but for other reasons.)
    In any case, I am leaning towards returning to public schools. I really think that here where I live in Atlanta, the rigor at some of these public schools is superior to the rigor at the independent schools. What I covered this year only touched upon two of the many state standards needed in my particular science class. However, independent schools are not bound by state standards.
    At least the free lunch was nice.
     
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  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The school I was at was very unusual. It was public but had the power to limit enrollment based on certain criteria. It has to follow some state regulations but not others. It ran like a private school in many ways, but it wasn’t private or charter. I’ve never encountered anything like it. So much about it was wonderful. There was certainly room for improvement as well.

    One thing that struck me was how informal everything was. For example, everyone went by their first names. From the superintendent on down, it was all first names, regardless of audience. Next year when I’m back in public I’m going to have to adjust to hearing my old name again. :tearsofjoy:
     
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  20. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    The small school I was in is extremely informal too. People walk in and out w/out a pass. You mentioned in an earlier post that you could add a few extras I am curious what they are. Confidentiality was huge where I came from, but in a small town, aunts, grandparents, or anyone interested is given info on kids. It used to horrify me since I was trained so differently.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Same about confidentiality! Most of the school and probably half of the staff were related to each other, so word traveled quickly. Family members would be at the school yelling at admin over something that happened so recently that admin hadn’t even fully dealt with it yet. It was wild.

    As far as extras, there was a kind of hierarchy separate from job positions that made working there a challenge for someone like me, a newcomer to the community and outsider, for lack of a better term. Decisions made by the principal could be overturned by a part-time custodian with a simple text to the right person. Certain teachers had more clout than even the superintendent. At catered lunches, we had to line up in a particular order to get our food. There were rules about how to greet guests when they visited our campus, and those rules were different depending on who the visitors were. It was a lot to remember and process.
     
  22. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    OMGoodness! We did work at the same school I think! ;) Figuring out who had the clout took awhile for me! Yeah, and the custodian who texts has more power than admin......lol
     

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