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Old 11-20-2013, 04:18 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,387 posts, read 31,332,267 times
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Anyone have any experience teaching in Detroit? I've been asked to interview for a position in a Detroit high school and I'm wondering if it's as bad as people think it is. If you have experience teaching in Detroit, I'd appreciate your feedback.

Thanks
Ivory
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Old 11-20-2013, 06:49 AM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
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Go and interview and ask to sit in a few classes while you are there.
Sitting through 2-3 classes should tell you all you need to know.
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Old 11-20-2013, 08:21 AM
 
Location: On the brink of WWIII
21,093 posts, read 24,521,459 times
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Ask me anything....I have survived over 10 years of Detroit teaching. I am currently on my new cycle since returning from NC...

Bad? I think many folks sugar coat it. There are a FEW charters that are great---

Plymouth Academy

Prep Academy

YES! Academy

Just bring a sense of HUMOR and do not expect to teach as you know it.

And if it is an EAA school....well I guess you just gotta be there to understand..Remember EAA is YEAR ROUND with just JULY off. Teachers are in the building August 1st through June 30th with the typical breaks and holidays. Though I see the EAA schools have been closed this week for some reason??
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Old 11-20-2013, 08:44 AM
 
Location: Middle America
37,223 posts, read 43,464,057 times
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Do a site visit.

I have lived/taught in a variety of places where the public schools are bad (for perspective,our former superintendent, John Covington, who made national news by shuttering half our public schools, LEFT Kansas City because the schools in Detroit represented a step up for him as EAA chancellor). I am not currently teaching (we're on a military mobilization that is potentially only for one year, so not enough time to transfer state certs and get in with a district), but the area where we are located is also noted for poor performance and most local parents I've met opt out of having their children attend the school that is literally at the end of my block, opting instead for further out charters. I'm still pretty wary of the charter concept, myself.

Set up a site visit or a shadowing opportunity, in order to get a true perspective, and talk in an in-depth manner to people who work there.

As an aside, having worked for a year-round private school, I honestly didn't have any complaints about the year-round aspect, for what it's worth. Our regular school year went Aug. through June and our ESY, which was academically indistinguishable from our regular school year, curriculum-wise and structure-wise, went June-August. We still got breaks, holidays, etc., and generally one four-day weekend a month. It was structured so that we had the same number of in-session days as districts with a summer breakin the end, only the distribution was different. Not having a large block of time off and unstructured was better for our students.
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Old 11-20-2013, 02:33 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,387 posts, read 31,332,267 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyTexan View Post
Go and interview and ask to sit in a few classes while you are there.
Sitting through 2-3 classes should tell you all you need to know.
Thank you. That is a great idea.
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Old 11-20-2013, 02:53 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,387 posts, read 31,332,267 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zthatzmanz28 View Post
Ask me anything....I have survived over 10 years of Detroit teaching. I am currently on my new cycle since returning from NC...

Bad? I think many folks sugar coat it. There are a FEW charters that are great---

Plymouth Academy

Prep Academy

YES! Academy

Just bring a sense of HUMOR and do not expect to teach as you know it.

And if it is an EAA school....well I guess you just gotta be there to understand..Remember EAA is YEAR ROUND with just JULY off. Teachers are in the building August 1st through June 30th with the typical breaks and holidays. Though I see the EAA schools have been closed this week for some reason??
Well it is an EAA school. I assume that means really bad.
I'm really leary about this but I'm so tired of being on the firing line where I am. This whole tenure situation has me stressed out to the point it's negatively impacting my ability to teach.

So, plusses are if I were to take this I could bow out of the denial of tenure tango, I'd have reasonable assurance of a job next year if I want it and I'd be somewhere where I can actually make a difference. Some days I feel like I have nothing where I am. I can't teach to the high standards my students are capable of because I might jeopardize Suzy's 4.0. So I have to coddle kids who are actually quite capable of high performance. I feel like I'm here to give the illusion of teaching to high standards while passing out A's just for the asking.

The cons are that working in Detroit scares me and I'm concerned that I will not identify with my students. However staying here means possibly facing denial of tenure. Some think my principal is just harassing me hoping I'll quit because he doesn't have anything on me. Data supports that my students learn and I am highly regarded by my peers.

I figure I'll be offered this job if I interview just because they're having such a hard time finding teachers in Detroit. I'm just afraid I will have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. There's also the mid year move as well. If I didn't have a perception problem in this district before quitting without notice, I will afterwards but I guess that is moot because I will never so much as visit this city again once I leave. It's just not somewhere I have friends or would do busines.
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Old 11-20-2013, 11:35 PM
 
Location: My beloved Bluegrass
15,463 posts, read 11,194,131 times
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I have taught in a similar environment: inner city, ugly part of town, above 90% free/reduced lunch rates, gangs, absentee/apathetic parents.

Positive:
  • If you are effectively teaching they generally won't care whether they like you or not on a personal level.
  • The parents care less, so they are less likely to complain about you.
  • The principal is less likely to care if parents complain about you, providing you are doing your job.
  • You will have more job security, if you can handle the behavior.
  • Faculty tend to be tighter, partly because you bond over the shared difficulty of reaching these kids.
Negative:
  • If you think you had discipline issues last year, you ain't seen nothin' yet. The kids you have now feel entitled but they generally have had positive relationships with school personnel, the kids you would get feel defensive and tend to be distrustful of school personnel. For far too many, the fact that they managed to make it to school that day was a major achievement.
  • Your principal will expect you to handle minor discipline problems in your classroom. And by minor, I mean stuff that would be considered major at your current school.
  • They are NOT going to preform as well or get concepts as quickly as where you now teach. They definitely will have less of the pre-requisite skills - to include basic reading skills and math skills.
  • Getting work done at home is not always possible. You can't expect them to have access to the internet. But more importantly, it's hard to worry about Chemistry if you are worried about your physical safety.
You have extremely high expectations, and while kids in high-risk schools shouldn't be subjected to the "soft bigotry of low expectations," you need to have a realistic expectations and what you have now is too high for such a school. You are walking into a totally different culture than where you have taught - they aren't worried about A's and B's, they are worried about failing versus passing. Here's the bottom line, you need to decide if you would rather be stressed out by the adults you work with or the kids you spend your day with in the classroom.

Last edited by Oldhag1; 11-20-2013 at 11:45 PM..
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Old 11-20-2013, 11:58 PM
Status: "The Mysterious Q" (set 16 days ago)
 
Location: DFW - Coppell / Las Colinas
34,109 posts, read 38,092,317 times
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I would be more concerned about my wife just driving to the school every morning before sunrise.

Maybe that's wrong.
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Old 11-21-2013, 10:06 AM
 
Location: On the brink of WWIII
21,093 posts, read 24,521,459 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
Well it is an EAA school. I assume that means really bad.
I'm really leary about this but I'm so tired of being on the firing line where I am. This whole tenure situation has me stressed out to the point it's negatively impacting my ability to teach.

So, plusses are if I were to take this I could bow out of the denial of tenure tango, I'd have reasonable assurance of a job next year if I want it and I'd be somewhere where I can actually make a difference. Some days I feel like I have nothing where I am. I can't teach to the high standards my students are capable of because I might jeopardize Suzy's 4.0. So I have to coddle kids who are actually quite capable of high performance. I feel like I'm here to give the illusion of teaching to high standards while passing out A's just for the asking.

The cons are that working in Detroit scares me and I'm concerned that I will not identify with my students. However staying here means possibly facing denial of tenure. Some think my principal is just harassing me hoping I'll quit because he doesn't have anything on me. Data supports that my students learn and I am highly regarded by my peers.

I figure I'll be offered this job if I interview just because they're having such a hard time finding teachers in Detroit. I'm just afraid I will have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. There's also the mid year move as well. If I didn't have a perception problem in this district before quitting without notice, I will afterwards but I guess that is moot because I will never so much as visit this city again once I leave. It's just not somewhere I have friends or would do busines.

EAA has been unsuccessful in reducing much of the violence. They came in believeing it was all going to be good simply by replacing the old guard and singing a different tune--NOT.

When I was considering a position (at Henry Ford) I talked with a lot of parents who where extremely hopeful for change. In recent months, I have talked with parents whoi have children in EAA schools like Mumford and Pershing, and I do not hear a lot of enthusiasm and hope. MAny say they are looking at charter schools or going back to DPS.

I personally believe the EAA schools are a few steps above DPS schools. But the majority of students are still from the old DPS mindset. Like the kids at Highland Park High School---the last 2-3 years of Highland Park High School were more like ANIMAL HOUSE than education. Many teachers were missing paydays, little or no materials and resources so many just quit teaching. The students knew this and just showed up and were allowed to pass. When Highland Park went charter, the students were still living the previous administration and it was a war zone last year getting students to understand it was not like the old show up and graduate days. This is where EAA is right now.

Will it change? Hopefully. But, if a teacher is trying to hold learning to a higher standard and expectations, it may be like experiencing the Holocaust at EAA...
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Old 11-21-2013, 10:27 AM
 
Location: Middle America
37,223 posts, read 43,464,057 times
Reputation: 51926
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
Well it is an EAA school. I assume that means really bad.
I'm really leary about this but I'm so tired of being on the firing line where I am. This whole tenure situation has me stressed out to the point it's negatively impacting my ability to teach.

So, plusses are if I were to take this I could bow out of the denial of tenure tango, I'd have reasonable assurance of a job next year if I want it and I'd be somewhere where I can actually make a difference. Some days I feel like I have nothing where I am. I can't teach to the high standards my students are capable of because I might jeopardize Suzy's 4.0. So I have to coddle kids who are actually quite capable of high performance. I feel like I'm here to give the illusion of teaching to high standards while passing out A's just for the asking.

The cons are that working in Detroit scares me and I'm concerned that I will not identify with my students. However staying here means possibly facing denial of tenure. Some think my principal is just harassing me hoping I'll quit because he doesn't have anything on me. Data supports that my students learn and I am highly regarded by my peers.

I figure I'll be offered this job if I interview just because they're having such a hard time finding teachers in Detroit. I'm just afraid I will have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. There's also the mid year move as well. If I didn't have a perception problem in this district before quitting without notice, I will afterwards but I guess that is moot because I will never so much as visit this city again once I leave. It's just not somewhere I have friends or would do busines.
My advice, having worked inner city with at-risk, impoverished teens? Don't do it if you are looking for an "out" from a stressful situation...this should go without saying. Right now, you are perhaps thinking that nothing on Earth could be worse or more stressful than having to do battle with Little Suzy 4.0's helicopter parents and feeling pressure to dial back your standards, and then dealing with administrators and a denial of tenure. You will find a whole new set of far more difficult and dangerous challenges.

Be prepared for behavior to be much more of a stumbling block than you have ever personally experienced, and understand that you will not necessarily have the type of support you would prefer to deal with extreme behavioral issues. Anticipate disrespect. Expect to go from overbearing parent involvement to very little, if any, parent involvement, and from kids being hovered over to kids with no guidance, supervision, or structure outside of the classroom.

Understand that you WILL be dialing back your standards for performance, not because parents are pressuring you to do so to preserve a lazy-but-capable kid's GPA, but because many of your students are going to require that you catch them up to where they should be. Look to spend a ton of time on basic prerequisite skills you didn't think you would ever have to be teaching at your subject and level. If you can't be patient with that reality, don't even think about dipping a toe in a setting of this type.

Do not assume that if you sign up for a teaching position in a high-risk environment with shortages, you will be heralded as someone who is really putting herself out there and lauded for your efforts. Don't assume that administration will offer you a job as a matter of course simply due to shortages. If those doing the hiring agree that there will be major issues with how you are able or unable to relate to the students, or they realize that you are fearful of the situation, they may recognize that you filling the position may be a liability for them.

Don't look at it is, "This will be so much easier than my current situation," because, no, it won't be. The challenges will be different, but they will easily be equivalent, and really, tougher to overcome. Think about how little job security is going to matter to you if you feel disrespected, improperly supported, unable to do your job, AND terrified to go in and work with your students, on top of that.
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