Choosing the Right School (for teachers)

mark tuminello choosing a schoolYou’ve met teachers who love their job. They don’t mind the challenges of student-wrangling, of grading, of ever-changing job requirements. These teachers also appreciate their schedule, complete with plenty of vacation time, and don’t mind picking up other work for the longer periods of break.

But you’ve also met teachers who didn’t enjoy their work. Many of them are probably ex-teachers. They seem perpetually unhappy with their professional life. Unruly students, unrealistic expectations, and political clashes prevent them from ever feeling at ease in their classrooms.

The benefits and challenges of a teaching job varies a lot from institution to institution, and it’s important that you take time to make a decision that will pay off for you (not just financially) in the long-run. The school where you work will also help to shape you as a teacher, which makes the decision of where to work even more important.

It can be difficult to wade through the shiny marketing language you’ll find about on school websites, but it’s the best place to start learning about a school. And after all, having an understanding of the school is paramount to figuring out whether it will be a good fit. Look beyond the language designed to attract parents. Does it seem that the school has a human element? Is the site presenting modern and professional information?

Next stop is the Department of Education, where information is listed for many schools. Here you might be able to find data like performance, absence rates, etc. Just remember that this data applies to your job indirectly. For instance, schools that work with less-than-stellar performing students might have a group of teachers working very hard, which could be an inspiration to you.

Visiting the school in person is the big moment. It’s important not to get caught up on the little things, like the layout of classrooms and hallways or particular interactions between students and teachers. Don’t worry about that kind of stuff…you’d adapt to that quickly.

Instead, look at the general atmosphere, including the way you’re greeted. Are people rushed and stressed? Are there a lot of new teachers, indicating high turnover? Are students generally polite to one another in the hallways? Do they seem eager to get to class? What’s the general feeling of the social environment between teachers?

More than anything, trust your instincts. After you’ve asked yourself plenty of hard questions, you may already know whether or not you would thrive at a particular school.

from Mark Tuminello – newest post from the blog of Mark Tuminello

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