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Old 06-29-2009, 01:09 AM
 
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I have a interview tomorrow for a charter school. Has anyone ever taught in a charter school? If so, what was it like and what state are you in? The thing that concerns me the most is the lack of a union. After working at 3 challenging school districts, I would really like to go back to school, but you have to pay the rent and bills. I am just a little burned out on teaching and not sure if my heart is in it anymore. I don't want to end up in another school like the one I was in previously. I was teaching in one of our bordertowns if that makes any difference.
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Old 06-29-2009, 05:25 AM
 
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I have no information, I just wanted to say good luck with your interview.

I can sort of relate as I've been semi-burned out in my field and definitely hesitant to take on the challenges of a new agency. My last two were SO dysfunctional and it just doesn't seem like the new possibilities are much better.

I agreed to interviews with two, cleared my schedule, and then, they never followed up with me by the time we were supposed to meet. Each place contacted me and set another date and missed that deadline too.

Getting up the nerve to even agree to another interview has my stomach in knots. That makes four irresponsible, disrespectful agencies... why on earth would I want to try again?

It sounds like you might feel the same way... and if so, I hope you find an answer in one direction or the other soon.

Stay strong!!!! Have fun today.
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Old 06-29-2009, 07:47 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,387 posts, read 31,329,708 times
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I think every charter is different. The only similarities I hear about seem to be wage and benefits. Wages are low, there is no stepped scale like in a district and benefits are pretty much non existent. I've had offers from two charters. Neither one gave raises (just a 2% COL increase every other year). Neither had a pension plan (both contributed to a 401K, one at 4% of income and the other at 2.5% of income). Medical benefits where I am are so bad we've opted to pay $550 a month to insure our family through my husband's employer.

As for environment, you need to find teachers who have taught at that particular school and talk to them. Some charters support their teachers, some will hang you out to dry if it looks like a parent may pull a child. From what I've seen, most seem to treat teachers as a cheap and easily replacable commodity. Unfortunately, in this economy, there are six people in line for every job so it's true. I'm amazed at how many applicants there are for every job I go for.

If you go to your state board here and post the name of the school, you might find someone who used to teach there or who currently teaches there. I'd have that conversation privately though.

Good luck.
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Old 06-29-2009, 08:51 PM
 
1,650 posts, read 3,500,241 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InformationPlease View Post
I have no information, I just wanted to say good luck with your interview.

I can sort of relate as I've been semi-burned out in my field and definitely hesitant to take on the challenges of a new agency. My last two were SO dysfunctional and it just doesn't seem like the new possibilities are much better.

I agreed to interviews with two, cleared my schedule, and then, they never followed up with me by the time we were supposed to meet. Each place contacted me and set another date and missed that deadline too.

Getting up the nerve to even agree to another interview has my stomach in knots. That makes four irresponsible, disrespectful agencies... why on earth would I want to try again?

It sounds like you might feel the same way... and if so, I hope you find an answer in one direction or the other soon.

Stay strong!!!! Have fun today.
This sounds exactly like me! I have worked in extremely dysfunctional schools. Basically the schools I worked at were places where everything went wrong. Now, it is like geez do I really want to go through it again? I also applied to return to school for speech therapy. I am waiting to hear something back on my application and to hear about financial aid.
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:07 PM
 
Location: Kirkwood, DE and beautiful SXM!
12,054 posts, read 20,614,002 times
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I agree that it is important to speak to teachers who are currently at that school and also to those who are no longer teaching there. While I am in public school, I would think that the charter would have some type of teacher organization. The climate of the school will determine your happiness in teaching there. My family doctor has told me about some of her clients who teach at charter and many are unhappy at the workload and the way that the administration treats their teachers. I would try for public school in a better area or where you can select the classes that you would like to teach. Since I have taught for many years, and according to my family doctor, one of the few teacher patients who does not take anxiety drugs, I will say that you need to have a strong backbone (most administrators lose theirs along the way) and decide before school starts what you will accept in the classroom and what you will not accept. That includes how administrators and parents treat you and speak to you. If you have a good set of personal values and do a good job of teaching (you have to be an expert in your field), you can successfully teach anywhere. Good luck on your interview and on your job selection.

Last edited by SXMGirl; 07-01-2009 at 02:18 PM..
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Old 07-05-2009, 09:38 AM
 
Location: Virginia
1,938 posts, read 6,432,228 times
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I used to teach at a charter called Life Skills HS for 16-22 yr olds in Colorado Springs and loved it. Yes, the pay was lower and we worked year round. However, curriculum was both online and offline in texts. We had at least 4 teachers in every classroom. Our student clientel were those who didn't succeed in reg ed HS for one reason or another. Students were required to attend only 4 hours a day. We had year round enrollment so the student came in with whatever credits and we created an academic plan based on what they needed according to COs state standards/requirements and they choose a couple classes to work on at a time. Once a class was completed, the student choose another one. So, students came in, did their 4 hours online or in the textbooks, recieved one on one help if needed, built relationships with their teachers and also had to work at a job for credit (they could also volunteer). For the new mommies, we were flexible with their schedules and if need be, gave them a seperate room with their baby so they could work, we shared watching the baby while she worked, gave out free bus passes to get to school providing their attendance and were doing well in classes. Nothing lower than a C was accepted, which was very doable because teachers were readily available to give personal attention. Online work/quizzes and tests would lock a student out if he/she failed more than 3 times on a quiz/test which triggered a student to come seek help. We had 2 graduations a year for students, a graduation breakfast, and served hotdogs/pizza/McDs every Friday. We also handed out snacks every couple hours at breaks. Those who were homeless, we let sleep for a few hours and then they worked. We provided in house free garage sales on items we rounded up and gave away coats. The students came from horrible backgrounds and often came in with a huge chip on their shoulder. However, so many made it through and often come back to visit a school and teachers they love.
What I disliked about it was that it was year round. The pay was slightly lower, but great health benefits. Often many thought I worked in an unsafe work environment with the type of kids we had. BUT, since we only required 4 hours from them, they took care of THAT type of business on their own time, not at school. We didn't judge them and our relationships with them created a "I will protect you" as if we were part of their own- which we weren't. When we were audited by CDE, we recieved high marks all the way around and the one thing the CDE kept complimenting us with how much the students loved their teachers and the school- a place they felt safe and where others cared about their well being.
Good luck in your interview and consider it an adventure.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:46 PM
 
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Charter schools are incredibly diverse and vary a lot. The CA Charter Schools Association put recently put together some videos from charter school teachers about how teaching at a charter varies from teaching at a traditional school:
[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqJ2o3JZRz4&list=PLkzM8Ek4bMGeuNy4q6vbHYsF 5gRrYvfvB&index=1]Teacher Voices: Why teach at a charter school? - YouTube[/url]
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:32 PM
 
3,283 posts, read 5,500,941 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calcharters View Post
Charter schools are incredibly diverse and vary a lot. The CA Charter Schools Association put recently put together some videos from charter school teachers about how teaching at a charter varies from teaching at a traditional school:
Teacher Voices: Why teach at a charter school? - YouTube
I love these rainbow and unicorns picture of charter schools that their advocates like to paint. The reality, however, is much different, as a huge chunk of charter schools exist for the sole purpose of enriching their operators and destabilizing the teaching profession. And don't even get me started on the claim that charter schools are "public" schools, because that's complete nonsense. If you're really a public school then accept all students and don't get rid of the ones that you find to be challenges (either behaviorally or academically). And open your books to public scrutiny.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:20 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,387 posts, read 31,329,708 times
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Every charter school is different.

Here in Michigan, charters are for profit schools so you can expect low pay, over crowded and under funded classrooms. There are only two ways to make money in a charter. Bring in more kids and reduce costs.

I worked for a charter for two years. I made $34K with two masters degrees, one in education and one in engineering at a time when starting wages for someone with my credentials was in the mid 40's. NSTA guidelines for safely conducting labs call for no more than 24 students in one class with a 1500 sq. ft. lab. I taught up to 36 students per class in a 750 square foot room that doubled as a lab. In my full classes, I, literally, had to ask a student to move if I wanted to walk from the front of the room to the back as I had them seated at the ends of tables (picture a room with 15 tables designed for 2 kids with 6 kids seated at the ends of tables because I ran out of tables). I did not even have an eye wash station. I had a squirt bottle that held 16 oz of distilled water. ONE squirt bottle. I guess I was supposed to ask the student which eye they would like to keep in event of an emergency. (Sadly, OSHA does not get involved in schools. I was told I had to take classroom safety issues up with the school board not them.) I swear my blood pressure was through the roof on lab days. Kids tripping over themselves, no space to work, equipment getting knocked over, pranks being pulled because the kids knew if I was on one side of the room I couldn't see what they were doing on the other...it was a mess.

In my area, class sizes do go down during the year. Class sizes were, usually, close to 30 by Christmas. Once you're past count day and the charter has 75% of the money for that child, they start getting rid of the trouble makers but I found that the year got off to such a rough start that I never really recovered. They say the first two weeks sets the tone for the year.

At my charter, they gave us one box of paper per semester. (My second year there, I taught two classes that didn't have books!!!) If you needed more copies than that, you brought your own paper in. With 36 kids in each of 7 classes, just printing my two page syllabus took up 10% of my paper for the semester. I had to buy my own room supplies including things like white board markers, lined paper and pencils for the kids, lab chemicals and supplies (I had a $250 budget for 7 lab based classes and that does not cut it. In my current school, my budget is $950 for 6 classes that are MUCH MUCH SMALLER than the ones I taught at the charter.)

The charter school I worked for retained most new teachers for only 1-2 years. They replaced 1/3 of their staff every year. If you want to know about a charter, look at its teacher retention rate.

FTR, we had our "Charter schools are all flowers and sparkles" teachers too. I'm not sure what they found atractive about the charter model. Given the conditions I taught in, and sizes of my classes, it is NOT an improvement over teaching in a public school. My maximum class size is 26 for my chemistry classes and 32 for my other classes in the district I work in now. I have two classes at the maximum (one chemistry and one math). The others are smaller.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 02-02-2013 at 02:50 AM..
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:49 AM
 
Location: On the brink of WWIII
21,093 posts, read 24,518,312 times
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In michigan the only difference is the management company. 90% are philosophically identical--run up enrollment for huge FTE, then throw out the bad apples after count day.

High the most experienced teachers and pay them the same as first year teachers.
RIF teachers who stay longer than 3-4 years to cut overhead.
Spend as little as needed for materials, texts and activities.

Give management and admin big bonuses for increasing FTE funding, while explaining to teachers how they need to "take it up a notch" if they expect to see any bonus or KUDOS for doing a job they were hired to do.

This is just my opinion based on having taught in 6-8 charter schools in Michigan.
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