Thursday, January 9, 2014

What do you look for in a school?

One of my former fabulous co-workers from the Think-Tank posted yesterday that she is planning on leaving the Think Tank next year.   In her post she asked for people's advice on what to look for when she is considering new schools to work for. She also posted the question on Facebook, where she got over 20 comments very quickly.

I've found myself watching the comment thread closely to see what other teachers value and look for in a school. It's become a thread of describing one's dream school- everyone chiming in with what they've seen is best for kids and what doesn't work.

Some comments include looking for evidence that kids live in the building, a supportive administration, school culture, and collaboration among teachers. Some of these are hard to get at in an interview- how do you ask "Will you really support me with an angry parent? Do your teachers really collaborate or just sit in meetings and look like they collaborate?"

In my career I've now worked in 3 schools (4 if you include student teaching). With every school my "must have" and "must not have" list changes a bit as I get new experiences, live in different school cultures and work for different administrators.

What are your questions to ask a principal of a school you are considering working in?
What do you look for when you walk into a school where you'd like to work?
What are red flags to you?
How do you ask the tough "so you SAY your school does this, but how do I really know you mean it?" questions to get a real answer?

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