Week 4.2: Public, Private, or Other?
I absolutely love how many forms of K-12 education there are in the United States. Government education policies are operating in a “one size fits all” mentality, but teachers, parents, nonprofits, grant-makers, and students are operating in a “variety is the spice of life” mentality. While I don’t have the requisite knowledge to explain why education at the federal level is so disconnected from the teacher’s level; or why a school in one town is so differently run from the next school 20 miles away; I can explain a bit about the different types. This list is all in the hope that a teacher looking for a job will know what atmosphere they can expect.
All of these forms of education are student-centered, but we’ll begin with the most student-centered of all.
A controversial form of education if ever there was one. Pros: The student has all the personal attention they could ever want. The student can work at their own speed. Cons: The student has a more difficult time socializing and misses out on school-organized events, such as sports, clubs, and dances. The student may not experience the same routine of assignments, exams, and presentations that are meant to transition to college work.
Interviewing: For teachers, it isn’t a job option 🙂
First it didn’t exist, then it wasn’t taken very seriously, then it was used by people in remote locations or by adults pursuing a college degree, now it is becoming a viable option for everyone. Unless you are a teacher using an online forum as part of your on-site class; or teaching one online course as a way of supplementing your income, I don’t recommend it, for only one reason: you don’t experience the human component of interacting with your students face-to-face. I write a blog, and assume that my words don’t always capture my meaning, no matter how hard I try. Think how much more difficult it would be with a 50 person online course!
Interviewing: Prepare a response about how you will best reach students via online discussion, about how you will deal with poorly-written or angrily-written posts, and about your familiarity with technology.
Also known as “where the rich people go.” Parents who have the resources to pay tuition for 12 YEARS may choose to send their student to a private school. The pros are many: students receive more personal attention, students and parents are more likely to take part in extracurriculars, the school often hosts all-school learning or volunteer projects. The only con in this part of education is entitlement. It can be difficult working with, for lack of a better term, “spoiled” students, because they have a sense that the world revolves around them. For the most part however, you can simply ignore the designer labels and enjoy the “anything is possible” atmosphere.
Interviewing: Use all of your typical teacher preparation, and include some creative ideas for your classroom that include a method of opening your students’ minds to the world around them.
This is the one type of school that I have never personally worked in. From observing other teachers and schools, I can say that I am very intrigued by charter schools. In many ways, they seem to combine the best of public and private schools. Pros: smaller, student-centered, friendly environment. Cons: Lack of state support. A charter school may receive funding from the government, but may have restrictions on sport leagues, state music ensembles, and other participation in public school offerings. It is important to find the right balance of parental involvement in the classroom – some charter schools may feel too overloaded by individual ideas, whereas some seem exactly like a public school.
Interviewing: Do your research about the school. If the school offers extracurriculars, that is a good sign for the finances and capabilities of the school.
The most accessible form of education, public school systems exist everywhere, including in small towns in Nebraska with a population of 300 and in Texas where the freshman class alone may be over 400 students. Public schools are the most closely-related to government policy, and are not funded by student tuition. Curriculum mapping is a constant project for the teacher, and writing lesson plans that reference state or federal requirements is common. Some are successful, some are not; some have metal detectors and fighting in the hallways, some do not. Generally, as a teacher you will have a mixture of everything: students who range from failing to straight-A grades, both a budget and fundraising, older policies that you want to change and newer policies that you want to change.
Interviewing: Do your research! For example, if the principal talks mainly about test scores, that tells you something about the school environment.
Also known as “where the rich expats go.” See “Private Schools” but also know that international schools can vary from any other US or IB school because of the lack of U.S. policy and curriculum. An international school can be the most experimental, exploratory place for teachers and students, and can be either amazing or horrifying. I do have some experience in teaching in an international school overseas, and I invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about pursuing these positions.
When job searching, the teacher may have all the options in the world, or need to take the first job offered. I simply hope that as you develop your teacher personality, you will discover the forum that best suits you. There isn’t one “right” way to teach. There are thousands! Have fun experimenting!
I would love to hear from you on your experiences with different types of schools! Comment below or email email@example.com!
Next week: Student-Led Discipline