Author Topic: Teacher seeking advice  (Read 4294 times)

tstache

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Teacher seeking advice
« on: March 09, 2015, 09:12:10 AM »
I've been teaching for 11 years in middle school.  I enjoy my job.  I have some seniority at my school (if there is such a thing for a public school employee), I like my school and enjoy my kids and coworkers.  My district has drastically changed over the years but I know many of the central admin folks by name and they know me.  I do not live in the district.  If/when I drive it takes me 25 minutes of stop and go traffic to get to school.  Roughly 15ish miles door to door.  Many times I drive halfway and park at a shopping center then take a more indirect route and ride my bike to work.  I am an avid cyclist and use this time for "training".  Really it's just me getting my exercise in more than anything.

I might have the opportunity to change districts/jobs.  The school in question would be a school that my wife works at.  We have worked together before and really enjoy it so I see that as a bonus.  It is our neighborhood feeder school.  The school is one mile away.  My son will attend that school.  The catch.  The district isn't the greatest but the school is a high level school equaling the school I am currently at.  I would also take a $2500 pay cut.  I'm not sure that is significant enough to keep me from moving.  Here is my short pro/cons list:
Pro
can park the car 95% of the time
can ride to school with my son (the elementary is on the way)
will eventually teach at the school my son goes to
will be more involved in the community I work in
the school will have less pressure from parents (according to my wife, we compared daily email numbers)
WAY less meetings as compared to my old school. 

Cons
I would lose my longer bicycle commute and would have to work harder at getting in my cycling.
pay cut
The district is HUGE and I would just be a number
The school does not have as much access to the technology that I currently have.  Most of my class is technology driven.  That is a big deal to me.

I guess I'm just thinking out loud here, but I would appreciate someone helping me think this through.  This to me, is a huge decision.  Jobs don't open back up at my current school very often.  Teachers stay here for a reason.

Thanks!

Lis

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2015, 09:33:20 AM »
What means more to you, being able to very easily ride your bike to work nearly all the time or $2500? Riding to work with your son or working with people and in a place you know you enjoy? Less technology or less stress?

This is one of those situations where I don't think there's a wrong answer, nor do I think any of us can say "you should definitely do this option." It's up to you, though your wife and maybe even your son could give you valuable input. Here are some other thoughts in no particular order...

- if you move, a one mile commute on bike would be pretty much nothing compared to what you do now. There's nothing stopping you from waking up and leaving at the same time, riding your bike a couple extra miles for training, and getting home and showering before actually leaving for work.
- if you move, you'd have less of a commute going home as well. Can you/would you pick up tutoring hours or work at an after school program to make up that money?
- it sounds like your current school is pretty prestigious, plus you've been there for a long time. Are there any potential future benefits that you may be giving up? Are you due for a raise soon, or any type of additional benefit?

I'm a relatively safe person in the sense that I'm not the type to make a huge change like that unless my current situation is bad or the new one is pretty much guaranteed to be better. You might be more risky than I am and like new challenges. Just given the information you provided, I would not leave. But keep talking and get some more ideas bounced around!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2015, 09:41:00 AM »
You could just take a longer bicycle route to work. You're not required to follow the straightest path.

sbdebeste

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2015, 09:49:07 AM »
In your shoes this would be a tough decision even if I were getting a raise. For a cut? I would definitely not go for it.

Just me though.

tstache

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2015, 10:03:12 AM »
What means more to you, being able to very easily ride your bike to work nearly all the time or $2500? Riding to work with your son or working with people and in a place you know you enjoy? Less technology or less stress?  Less stress would be nice.  Less stress from all the meetings, less stress from the many emails from parents (up to 15 a day, I teach 135 kids), less stress from other small things that add up.

This is one of those situations where I don't think there's a wrong answer, nor do I think any of us can say "you should definitely do this option." It's up to you, though your wife and maybe even your son could give you valuable input. Here are some other thoughts in no particular order...

- if you move, a one mile commute on bike would be pretty much nothing compared to what you do now. There's nothing stopping you from waking up and leaving at the same time, riding your bike a couple extra miles for training, and getting home and showering before actually leaving for work.
- if you move, you'd have less of a commute going home as well. Can you/would you pick up tutoring hours or work at an after school program to make up that money? (probably not.  I have survived teaching this long because I am not over committed.  When my school day is done, I am done with work.  Tutoring is not something I want to do.  I do have a couple yards I mow for extra cash though)
- it sounds like your current school is pretty prestigious, plus you've been there for a long time. Are there any potential future benefits that you may be giving up? Are you due for a raise soon, or any type of additional benefit? Great question.  I don't know that I have an answer to that.  I've taught with several teachers who are now part of the admin team and it is nice to know them. 

I'm a relatively safe person in the sense that I'm not the type to make a huge change like that unless my current situation is bad or the new one is pretty much guaranteed to be better. You might be more risky than I am and like new challenges. Just given the information you provided, I would not leave. But keep talking and get some more ideas bounced around!  This is why I posted.  To just get some ideas bounced around.  So very helpful to think things through.

TheDude

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2015, 10:14:37 AM »
My wife was a teacher (now admin) but we are kind of going through the same thing. Here is what I told her. At one point we lived in Taiwan. The reason it was the low paying school in Taiwan and not the higher paying schools in Japan or China was because of the way she felt after she left the interview. They sold her on their vision of the school and she couldn't wait to be part of it. Now my wife is a little different she does put way to much into it but I think my advice is just as valid to you.

Find the job and gives you that Taiwan feeling.

clarkm04

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2015, 10:40:59 AM »
You have quite the dilemma.

When I moved states, I took a teaching position that paid less and had a lower retirement package with the trade off being it's the best or second best private school in the state.  I've never looked back or questioned my choice.  The pay difference was around $2500.  The retirement compensation difference is larger.

To me, $2,500 salary cut wouldn't be your biggest issue.  Yes, it's money, but it sounds like the positives of shorter commute, less stress, and having your wife there and your son at some point outweigh this amount.

I'm also less spooked by the district size.  My previous district had probably 5000 total staff, at that level it all comes down to your local school and interactions with faculty and staff at that school and neighboring ones.

To me the biggest issue you'll probably deal with is the adjustment to the new culture and the technology issue. 

Culture is tough everywhere: I've taught at four schools over two states and even within the same district, it takes a year or two to adjust.  Luckily, with your spouse at the school, your curve will be less steep then mine was at each school.

Technology IMHO will be your biggest issue.  This means, you'll have to reconstruct lessons and adapt to less technology while also adapting to a new culture.  I would hate to go backwards in technology.  I could do it, but the amount of work would suck.

Questions:

What stuff does your current school have that your new school won't?
Are there ways through budgets or grants to get you what you currently use?

Good luck!  In all seriousness, I do believe either option will work for you and your family.  It's nice to have two good options, none.

FLBiker

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2015, 10:44:37 AM »
If it were me, I would start by figuring out how important the family stuff was -- driving with your kid, working with your wife.  My wife and I work together and I love it.  That would definitely be a factor if I were to change jobs.

tstache

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2015, 10:51:33 AM »
You have quite the dilemma.

When I moved states, I took a teaching position that paid less and had a lower retirement package with the trade off being it's the best or second best private school in the state.  I've never looked back or questioned my choice.  The pay difference was around $2500.  The retirement compensation difference is larger.

To me, $2,500 salary cut wouldn't be your biggest issue.  Yes, it's money, but it sounds like the positives of shorter commute, less stress, and having your wife there and your son at some point outweigh this amount.

I'm also less spooked by the district size.  My previous district had probably 5000 total staff, at that level it all comes down to your local school and interactions with faculty and staff at that school and neighboring ones.

To me the biggest issue you'll probably deal with is the adjustment to the new culture and the technology issue.  Nail on the head right there.  My thoughts exactly

Culture is tough everywhere: I've taught at four schools over two states and even within the same district, it takes a year or two to adjust.  Luckily, with your spouse at the school, your curve will be less steep then mine was at each school.  I'm a very easy going person/teacher.  Easy come and easy go.  I get a long with pretty much everybody.  I'm not a down in the dumps teacher at all. 

Technology IMHO will be your biggest issue.  This means, you'll have to reconstruct lessons and adapt to less technology while also adapting to a new culture.  I would hate to go backwards in technology.  I could do it, but the amount of work would suck.  Yes it would.

Questions:

What stuff does your current school have that your new school won't? And to me this is a big thing.  First, we use Schoology on a daily basis in the classroom.  It has reduced the amount of work on my part significantly.  I love this program.  The district would have to buy in at the new school, probably not going to happen.  Also, we use Smartboards.  The new school doesn't use that.  Why I don't know.  It doesn't make sense to me to not have an interactive white board in the front of a classroom.  My current school is not a 1 to 1 school with devices, but we have tons of access to ipad carts, chromebook carts, and labs.  The new school does have ipad carts and labs and my wife said that she doesn't really have a hard time signing up for them.  I use them almost daily.
Are there ways through budgets or grants to get you what you currently use?

Good luck!  In all seriousness, I do believe either option will work for you and your family.  It's nice to have two good options, none. I agree.  I don't feel like I can make a bad decision in this instance.  They are both great schools.  I knew this decision was coming and have thought a lot about it.  It is now that time of the year where I really need to figure things out.  Thanks for the insight. I tend to change my mind daily.  I'm working on my resume now.  Something I haven't done in a long time!  What a pain.  :)

Pigeon

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2015, 11:06:13 AM »
The pay differential is pretty small and wouldn't really affect my decision, I think.

Less meetings is always good, but I'm sort of surprised you've have fewer meetings in a larger district than a smaller one.

Will you be giving up tenure at your old school and having to go through the process at the new one?  That's kind of a PIA.

Dh is a teacher in a different district, much more blue collar  and smaller than our wealthier suburban district.  Honestly, I wouldn't want him teaching in the same district our kids are in.  The kids can get a lot of crap over it from other kids.  There are also advantages to having more of a separation between your personal and professional life. 

His school is horrible with technology as well.  Part of his evaluation involves including technology in his teaching, which is hard to do if the district doesn't provide any and blocks every single website you want to use with the students.

Catbert

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2015, 11:40:39 AM »
As others have said, there is no clear-cut answer here but salary should be the least of your considerations.

One thing that no one has mentioned is the increased possibility of both of you getting laid off at the same time.  Not sure what it's like in your state, but in So Cal teacher lay-offs, transfers to distant schools in a large district, and yearly threatened layoffs with last minute reprieves aren't unusual. 

clarkm04

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2015, 02:24:37 PM »

What stuff does your current school have that your new school won't?

And to me this is a big thing.  First, we use Schoology on a daily basis in the classroom.  It has reduced the amount of work on my part significantly.  I love this program.  The district would have to buy in at the new school, probably not going to happen.  Also, we use Smartboards.  The new school doesn't use that.  Why I don't know.  It doesn't make sense to me to not have an interactive white board in the front of a classroom.  My current school is not a 1 to 1 school with devices, but we have tons of access to ipad carts, chromebook carts, and labs.  The new school does have ipad carts and labs and my wife said that she doesn't really have a hard time signing up for them.  I use them almost daily.

Thanks for answering those questions.  I've never used Schoology, but after a brief look, it seems to be similar to Blackboard.  Is that correct?

One workaround might be going to Google Classroom. 

It's also free to educators like Schoology.  Your school or district has minimal work to go active, but once you have a certified e-mail from Google, it's completely free for you and therefore your students.

My school is going 1:1 iPad next year and I plan to go completely to Google Classroom.

Not having a Smartboard sucks.  I have one and don't use it often, but it's a slick tool and I'm grateful every time I use it.

I think it's heartening that your wife indicates it's easy to get a tech cart for your needs. 

Given your easy going personality and there is some technology, I would lean towards making the switch.

One last question:
You mention pay is $2500 lower.  Is the pension the comparable?

tstache

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2015, 08:12:10 AM »

What stuff does your current school have that your new school won't?

And to me this is a big thing.  First, we use Schoology on a daily basis in the classroom.  It has reduced the amount of work on my part significantly.  I love this program.  The district would have to buy in at the new school, probably not going to happen.  Also, we use Smartboards.  The new school doesn't use that.  Why I don't know.  It doesn't make sense to me to not have an interactive white board in the front of a classroom.  My current school is not a 1 to 1 school with devices, but we have tons of access to ipad carts, chromebook carts, and labs.  The new school does have ipad carts and labs and my wife said that she doesn't really have a hard time signing up for them.  I use them almost daily.

Thanks for answering those questions.  I've never used Schoology, but after a brief look, it seems to be similar to Blackboard.  Is that correct? I've never used Blackboard so I'm not sure. 

One workaround might be going to Google Classroom. 

It's also free to educators like Schoology.  Your school or district has minimal work to go active, but once you have a certified e-mail from Google, it's completely free for you and therefore your students.

My school is going 1:1 iPad next year and I plan to go completely to Google Classroom.  Google Drive does not play well with the ipads.  They are workable, but they are not ideal.  Our district went with Chromebooks because of this.

Not having a Smartboard sucks.  I have one and don't use it often, but it's a slick tool and I'm grateful every time I use it.

I think it's heartening that your wife indicates it's easy to get a tech cart for your needs. 

Given your easy going personality and there is some technology, I would lean towards making the switch.

One last question:
You mention pay is $2500 lower.  Is the pension the comparable?  My current district doesn't pay in to SS.  It pays into the state teacher retirement fund (Texas).  I'm not sure about what is better to be honest.  I have 11 in the Texas system and I know they take the average of the 5 highest paid years.   Not sure what SS does. 

clarkm04

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Re: Teacher seeking advice
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2015, 09:32:26 AM »
Since both districts are part of your state pension system, that won't change.  IMHO pensions are great!  I miss having one.

Do both districts offer a 403b?  My last public district did.  It was nice to put money into a pension along with a 403b.

Anyway, two good choices.  Best of luck!

Thanks for the heads up regarding your experiences with Drive.  I've had different experiences so far with Google Drive and Classroom. 

We use Classroom for all our Professional Development with no issues.  I haven't played around on Drive, but all my coworkers are stoked to use it exclusively next year since many use it on their iPads already.  I'm certainly hoping that holds true.  It would suck if Drive and Classroom are buggy/difficult like you mentioned.  I'll play around with it earlier this summer before completely committing.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 10:29:32 AM by clarkm04 »