Q & A with Our Teachers
 
Teaching at Explore Schools is a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience.  Recently, teachers at Explore Charter School were interviewed about their experience.  Some of their answers are below.

What are the hours and teaching loads like?
What is the culture of the school like?
What will observation and feedback look like?
What kind of support can I expect to get?
What do you love about working at Explore?
What is hard about working at Explore?
 
 
What are the hours and teaching loads like?

"You will definitely be in the building from 7:40 to 4:20, but I usually arrive between 7 and 7:15 and stay anywhere from 5:00 to 6:00, depending on what I’ve got to do."

"It’s a long school day, and the planning rigor takes a bit to adjust to, but it’s really quite manageable once you find your groove."

"Explore is not a school for the average teacher. The expectations are high and the workload will surpass what is demanded at a typical school. However, when using all available time throughout the day, and working efficiently and practically, most planning, grading and assessments can be completed during the 7:40-4:20 workday. While there are instances when I would like to have less work to do, given the caliber of education provided to our students, I don’t mind staying past 4:20 to help my children meet their academic potential."

"First year hours at Explore, regardless of previous teaching experience, are long. We have a longer school day and a longer school year, which contribute to longer teaching hours. Because there is a lot of autonomy given to teachers, it usually takes longer to prepare for a lesson or find the very best resource for our students."

"Students leave earlier on Wednesdays; Wednesday afternoons are typically spent with some type of professional development or collaborative meeting, or sometimes with just short announcements and time to get through some work."

What is the culture of the school like?

"Positive. Our kids are fantastic and everyone on staff (teaching and non-teaching alike) is energetic, upbeat, and friendly. The single unifying driver of our culture is the belief of every adult in the building that our kids can achieve at the highest academic levels and everyone works constantly to reinforce that belief in our students and to do whatever possible to support them in their effort."

"The culture of the school is urgent yet caring. Students know that they are here to work and teachers are here to help them achieve."

"Explore’s culture is certainly one of positive intent. Teachers and students are held to high standards or expectations and as a result, there are a series of consequences for inappropriate behaviors. Conversely, students who have earned the opportunity and privileges are allowed to participate in school dances, pep rallies and so on."

"The culture at Explore is still developing since our school is still relatively young. That said, Explore strives to maintain a culture of trust and respect among its staff and students. Teachers and students come to school to work hard and practice to get better at what they do."

"I think that parents enjoy coming to school and feel comfortable speaking to teachers and administrators. Students are happy and engaged throughout the building. I think that culture is definitely cultivated among k-3, 4-6, and 7-8. I do think we lack a little in whole school culture because of our space issues (no auditorium) we are never able to meet as a whole school."

"The schools maintain a culture of professionalism and continuous improvement. Whether is in the way our way our teacher’s dress, the expectations we have of our students in terms of pushing them to the next level or working in professional learning communities the school’s culture."

What will observation and feedback look like?

"Feedback is sensitive and positive. Administration will let you know if there is anything that needs to be worked on throughout the year. You are involved in conversations and your feedback is valued. Observations are not intrusive and walkthroughs are done frequently so you see administration a lot and you are used to them being in your room."

"Observation and feedback are centered around helping teachers become better. Informal observations like a walk-through or a look at bulletin board work may result in an email or a brief conversation. Formal observations are scheduled and planned for by a member of leadership and the teacher. Feedback is constructive and helpful. I have become a better teacher at Explore every time I have been observed."

"Expect a lot of observation and feedback! Administrators conduct walk-throughs on a semi-regular basis, in addition to the formal observations you can expect twice a year. Feedback is given on lesson plans and shout-outs are common over email and in staff meetings. We also do peer observations to learn best practices. These can be arranged by you directly with another teacher, or are sometimes facilitated by leadership as well."

What kind of support can I expect to get?

"Complete. While it is necessary to reach out and let someone know when you want or need help, it is always responded to quickly and thoughtfully and consistently."

"Lots! Someone is always willing to help."

"Support is offered around every corner. So long as you’re willing to try things, people will continue to offer help."

"Depending upon my need, I am typically able to reach out to any of my colleagues, coordinators or administrators for support. My need determines the support. However there is always someone to turn to."

"As a first year teacher, the support that I receive from my colleagues helps me to grow in new and exciting ways. The learning curve is steep, but with self-reflection and a willingness to reach out and “just ask” I think most teachers will find that it is possible to rise above the learning curve and really ensure student achievement."

What do you love about working at Explore?

"I love working in a place where everyone around me believes in success and seeks to make our community a better place. I am inspired by my students and colleagues every day."

"I love working with people who all have the same goal and that is for student to learn and grow. I also love the support I get from the people around me. I never feel like I am doing this alone. The students are driven and really work hard and that makes a teachers job a little easier."

"It challenges me. I love working at a school where I feel I am growing as a teacher each day and where I feel supported and that the administration truly believes in me."

"Our administrators are supportive and are willing to give you the opportunity to grow. I feel as though I have become a much better teacher during my 7 months at Explore than the 3 years that I have taught, prior." 

"The people. I’ve been quite impressed with the dedication and pride with which each staff member approaches their work. There are some great teachers here, but they’re also amazing people."

What is hard about working at Explore?

"The job is never done and nobody ever stops thinking about how we could do better, and thus never stops doing more to achieve that little bit closer to perfection."

"The time commitment. The work-day itself is long, and of course, in the world of education, there’s always something that still needs to be done. It takes a while to find your groove and not feel a bit overwhelmed."

"The hours and calendar are long. There is no “easy day.” But this is the same reason I love it!"

"The hours are long, but the results are worth it."

"Our students are wonderful, but it takes effort to win their respect and cooperation. Since I believe in them and infuse my teaching with passion, they always shine. It takes perseverance to give 100% at all times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way."