Two weeks ago, I took a half-day to visit the public school up the block. It is only a few blocks from my current school.
As soon as I arrived, I felt comfortable. It is a big school with 1,300 kids. I like how small my school is but walking around these hallways just felt right. Each grade has between five and ten classes. It is an incredible school. It is well organized. Teachers have the freedom to tweak and create curriculum. Many public school teachers do not have that luxury. This is a great school so they can dictate somewhat to the state what they want to do. I guess if you keep the test scores high, you can kind of do what you want within boundries.
The state testing is a little problematic for me. Basically, teachers have to start teaching to the tests everyday for a month leading up to each of the two tests given. Apparently, it is much worse in other schools where they start teaching to the test on the first day of school.
One of the Assistant Principals showed me around and took me from class to class. One of the first things she said to me was, "Public schools are a lot different than what you are used to. We have bigger classes and we don't kick out the bad kids." Ouch!
The first class I saw was a 5th grade class and I was in awe. Apparently, the teacher I saw is a legend at the school and everyone in the community knows him. I could have sat in his class all day to soak it up and learn. The second class I saw was a 4th grade class. The teacher there had student taught at my school ten years ago with Woman Who Didn't Care About Teaching But Knew How To Pretend She Did and Made Me As Her Assistant File Shit All Day and Was a Nightmare to Work With. The third class I saw was a third grade class with a Too Cool For School Teacher. As I observed each class and interacted with a few of the kids, I decided that maybe I wanted to move up to fifth grade. Or maybe I was just so in awe of that first teacher of the day.
The school felt very similar to my current school but obviously a lot bigger. I felt like I could immediately step right in in any of these classrooms and I'd be fine. The class makeup wasn't overwhelmingly white. There was a nice mix of kids there. I would love to teach in a different environment in that regard.
When my time was up, I didn't want to leave. I loved it. And the school T-shirt looks better than my current school's shirt.
It might not matter what my current school does if I could get a job there. But the public schools hire much later. I'd have to be in limbo for two months if I leave. Plus, I just don't know what my chances are of getting a job at a public school that I'd be happy with. What if I leave a good situation and end up miserable next year? Teachers don't get paid much but at least it is a job that makes me happy.
Today I received my contract for next year. In my first entry on this subject, I wrote about how the school needed to financially step to the plate for me. If they didn't, I might have to leave. As decision time has gotten closer, I have become more and more wanting to stay at my school for another year. I really like the school. But the school had to do its part? Did they? Sort of. While their offer does offer me a substantial raise, it might not be enough.
I figure that I've been underpaid by 12-15% over the years. This raise basically raises me closer to some of my peers. I'm at a loss as what to do. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe this will be what pushes me into the public schools where I know I can do well, make more money, possibly make more of a difference in kids' lives who actually need it, have better benefits (currently it would cost me $600 to get Youthlarge on my health plan), and have a pension plan.
To be continued ...
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