Charter School vs. Charter School

In the past month, I have subbed in two different charter schools, both in the same school district.  Both schools have relatively new buildings, with decent equipment and supplies.  Both schools require their K-8 students to wear uniforms – polos, khakis, plain pants or skirts, etc.  Both schools have large class sizes, though at the second one, they were a bit smaller.  I was in the same classroom at each school for 2 days. 

The first school I will not go back to; the second school, I will return to any time I get called.  Why?  At the first school, regimentation seems to be the order of the day.  My day was planned down to the last minute:  at 8:45 take attendance; at 8:47 say the pledge; at 8:49, announce to the class, “Get ready to transition to …”; etc.  As a sub, I felt this to be a recipe for failure – if attendance took longer than expected, I was already behind; if I waited to line them up for something, until they were quiet, they were late to their next class.  The day felt regimented and overplanned.  Except that, the regular teacher forgot to tell me some important things – like where the math book was (on the shelf, under the white board) and how much of the lesson had already been taught (a significant amount), and where the science test was that they were supposed to take (on a different shelf).  It was an uncomfortable two days.  And, this time at least, it wasn’t really due to the kids.  They were reasonably respectful and interesting.  Or at least I thought so, until I went to the second school.

The second school was actually enjoyable.  The lessons I taught were substantial and allowed me to actually do some teaching – bring some of myself into the lesson.  I wasn’t just a place-holder, delivering a throw-away lesson, while the REAL teacher was gone.  And the kids made me feel like they were actually intrinsically nice, not just regimented into it.  I wish I knew the secret to the atmosphere of the second school.  I have been to other schools that feel as welcoming and worthwhile, but not many.