Sunday, August 25, 2013

Red Flags

I got a new job.  I told you last week about my dilemma with the job I accepted at the middle school, which is different than the middle school I worked at last year, but in the same district.  I was offered the position of teaching what I did last year with the addition of one class to get me up to full time.  I was a little nervous because I've heard terrible, TERRIBLE things about this particular school.  Apparently they had an awful principal for years and staff moral was as low as low can be.  But this year they got a new principal!  The school is in a gorgeous new building!  Things will be fine!  Right?

One of the first red flags was before I even went to the school.  I printed out the staff list.  It lists who works there, what they do, and their phone numbers.  About half the staff is for special needs students; like special education teachers, emotional and behavioral specialists, social workers, psychologists etc etc. Normally in any public school situation, at most 20% of the students have special needs. What is with this one?   Red flag.

Another red flag is when I went there the first few times.  I did not have a classroom, or even a desk, and I was not scheduled to teach the two classes I agreed to.  I was scheduled to teach four classes, one of which included a class teaching kids who have managed to get to middle school and are still functionally illiterate.
Some people are good at teaching that.  I am not.  I would never have agreed to teach that.

The class I had agreed to teach, Read 180, is a program that the district bought several years ago that cost tens of thousands of dollars.  It is highly researched, intense reading program that is proven to work at getting readers who are a little bit behind up to grade level.  The most important part of the program is that the classes are taught in two hour blocks because if someone needs to acquire and make up skills they didn't get before, it's going to take more time than one 50 minute class a day.  I was signed up to teach that, but because of scheduling conflicts, they cut it down to one period blocks, which totally dismantles the program and dooms it to fail.  They spent lots of time and money training me to do this program.  I know how it works and I know that it isn't going to work in one period blocks.

Aside from teaching remedial reading, and reading to non-readers, I was scheduled to teach one section of English for seventh grade, and one section of English for eighth grade.  These classes with "normal" kids are jam-packed.  Last year there were 40+ kids in one class on average.  That is overwhelming.  Can you imagine the amount of correcting?  Yikes.

Also, one day I stopped by the school to drop my stuff off and as I was between loads, I discovered that the building automatically locks down at 3:15.  Why?  I don't know.  But it's like a prison.  I had to have a custodian escort me in and up to my room, unlocking doors all along the way.  Why does a school need to be locked down like a maximum security prison?  Red flag.

In the midst of freaking out about all the red flags and feeling like a trapped animal, the college prep charter school called me again and asked if there was anything they could do to lure me away from the public school.  Yes.  Yes there was.  They offered me a little more money than they had previously.  I took their offer.  Now I will be teaching small classes of 9th and 10th graders.  I'll be teaching World Literature and English Fundamentals.  I also get to teach an elective of my own choosing, which will of course be The Biography in which we will begin the course by reading a biography of George Washington.  Duh.

I'm a little overwhelmed right now trying to figure out a new system, and meeting new people etc. etc. but I have not seen any glaring red flags as of yet.  


  1. I am so happy you took the job you did. I think you will really like it and you will do a great job! Mom

    I had to go anonymous because it wouldn't let me leave a comment.

  2. Wow! I'm glad you were able to get out of that job! It did not sound promising at all! Good luck at the college prep charter school!

  3. Good for you! I'm glad you are getting into a much saner and healthier situation than the one previously mentioned...


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