Why I’ve decided to eliminate charters from my job search… (interview #3)

Please recognize as a disclaimer that I do believe there are many good teachers working at charter schools and that not all charter schools are like the one I refer to in this post.  This was my experience interviewing at one yesterday, and it documents only the negative things that I saw, although there were positive things that I do not mention in this post.

Had interview #3 at Charter School #2 all day yesterday.  It went well… but I absolutely hated the school.  Hated it.  At first, I thought, “Well, maybe this type of discipline system and school set up would work for some students and teachers…” But by the end of the day, I was completely over it.  So when the principal asked, “So what do you think?”  My response was something like, “I don’t know that I’d really fit into this community.”

So when asked why, here are the things I should have/wanted to/but didn’t said:

  • The school is cramped. Students have to eat lunch in classrooms with rules about where they can and can’t sit.  There is almost no natural light.
  • The math I observed in four different classes was less than impressive.  It was ALL drill and kill.  I recognize that there is a time and place for procedural knowledge, but it was ALL of the classes… not just one.
  • In the 25 minutes I was in one class, I saw the teacher give 5+ demerits for behavior that I wouldn’t have batted an eye at and ask 3 students to leave class (also for minimal behavior problems).  Then he was asking why the kids weren’t performing like they usually do… (And commented that perhaps it was because there was a visitor in the room.)
  • I observed more behavior problems and distractions at this school than I ever did in any classroom during my student teaching… I feel like the school’s focus on discipline is supposed to eliminate the need to worry about that as much in the classroom.  Instead, that’s all I found myself focusing on as an observer.

I realize that not all charter schools are like this, but I’ve decided that I will not be working at a charter school next year, as the ones that I have seen and applied to follow similar systems.  It’s not in my nature to be that focused on discipline, and I feel like I still saw many positive results in my classroom during student teaching without it.  

When my interviewer called this morning to ask me about it, I told her that I wouldn’t feel comfortable implementing the discipline system.  She told me that I was a strong candidate and would find a good position somewhere else, which I really appreciated.

I guess that type of system works for some people… the teachers I talked to there seemed happy with it, although I’m not sure that the kids were.  But I really didn’t understand.  I’m glad it’s over for me.

operation: teaching job education

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