I'm a sophomore in college taking teacher education! I'm just wondering for those of you who are currently teaching in inner city schools, is it worth it? Do you find yourself getting worn out quickly? Furthermore, even though inner city schools are often more stressful does that in turn make accomplishments and student growth more rewarding?
Teaching in inner-city schools is definitely a different animal. In my experience, though, some of the hardest battles are not because of the students, but because of the administration. In some places, staff and administrators have accepted a culture of failure and don't expect their students to achieve. So it can be extremely frustrating to be a new teacher in those schools, feeling like the only one who is trying to help your kids.
If you're passionate about it, though, it is DEFINITELY worth it. Right out of college, I was lucky enough to work at a public school that was making the turn from being a failing school, so I had a lot of support from coaches, administrators, and a great staff. Later, I worked at a KIPP charter school and, although it was definitely difficult in that first year, it was inspiring and wonderful to work there.
I would suggest that you spend time researching inner-city schools (visit them, meet with various teachers, sit in on classes, etc.) before you decide where to work. I'm so glad I worked at inner-city schools -- the kids are amazing and totally worth every second -- just make sure you're in a supportive, positive environment.
Thanks Katy for your response! I firmly believe what you say about having more trouble with administration than the classroom and students..that is frustrating!
I will definitely research schools, and visit before choosing one when I graduate!
I agree that the staff at some inner-city seem like they have lowered the expectations for students, almost as if they accept student failure. The afterschool teen program that I worked at was in an inner-city neighborhood. A huge part of the program was to provide tutoring and homework help for students who might not have access to the necessary help at home. After the first month of school it seemed like the students stopped bringing homework. When staff members asked students why they weren't bringing homework they frequently responded that teachers didn't assign it because they knew students wouldn't do it. We provided other educational activities for students, but it was sad to realize that students were not being provided an adequate and challenging education. If you are thinking about teaching at an inner-city school, I think you should try to do some observation or field work to get aquatinted with the schools in your area. You might also want to volunteer at some inner-city youth programs. I found my experience working with inner-city students rewarding and as long as your are passionate I think you will do great!
An inner city school will require an individual who is energetic, passionate and willing to give 110% everyday because in these students lives no one else cares this much. Not only are you expresses this attention to the students, but to the parents as well because at times they feel and like how their own child is. A smart educator told me that every parent sends their best to school. They are trying their hardest to raise a child based on what they personal know.
So when you give 110% to a class of 30 every hour of the day, yes it is exhausting. But my rule is that if you can accomplish this goal while teaching in an inner city school then you are fit for any job from here on out. Don't be hesitant by the challenge because it is rewarding and once you build that relationship with the students they got your back and they will bend over backwards for you.
It's definitely worth it! You will get worn out, but as teachers we can only expect that. This most important thing is that you remember why you are there. Student growth occurs, but it shows up in different ways.
I have have worked in the inner city since I started teaching; downtown Skid-row Los Angeles and Oak Cliff Dallas. It's rewarding and it strengthens your patience and passion to continually develop as an educator.
Be blessed in your studies!
I have never taught outside of New York City (Brooklyn) so I can't make comparisons, however I will say "inner city" can have varied meanings.
My first two years was in a middle school in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood, a school nestled in between two of the boroughs toughest housing projects. The building is still considered to be one of the most dangerous school sites in all of NYC (multiple charter schools have been offered the building and all have turned it down due to the safety issues).
I then taught 2 miles away in Williamsburgh. Still a NYC public school. Still a mostly public housing project population. It was an elementary school and it was a much safer, more successful enviornment.
I am now another few mile away, in Park Slope. Still Brooklyn, still NYC public school, but as close to a suburban vibe as you can probably get within the City.
Each school had it's unique challenges and rewards. My first 2 years in one of the worst middle schools in NYC (made the papers 5 times in 2 years - not a good sign) were insanely stressful and difficult. Threats of violence, a lack of commitment to education, etc. However, after having taught there I can honestly say I can handle any situation and my classroom management is pretty solid (after an 18 year old 8th grader threatens to shoot you your first year everything after that comes kinda easy...)
I would never want to go back that those first 2 years of teaching, yet at the same time they help make me the teacher I am today. I can handle any situation because of what I experienced back then.
If you can teach, and teach successfully, in an inner city environment I believe you can teach anywhere. However, the big caveat is it is very, very difficult. Rewarding, but difficult. Do it. Definitely. But go in to it eyes wide open. Don't expect students to embrace you, don't expect the long timers give you any respect (they don't think you'll stay) but stick with it and you'll be a better teacher for it.
As someone mentioned, do some work at a school before you graduate to get a sense of what you'll face. It wont be easy but you'll be better off for the experience.
my apologies for the ramble...
Please do not apologize for the ramble! Your story is intriguing! I think you were living out the "Freedom Writers" story...and that movie/story inspires me more than anything! I would love to teach in New York... I know there will be no shortage of overpopulated, diverse, violent schools..and i'm drawn to the challenge and terrified of it all at the same time!
How were female teachers treated in those schools? From an administrative and student perspective?