“Congrats on your new job! A charter school would be just right for someone like you.”
That was one of the first things I heard when I accepted my first full-time position at a tier-one charter school. Ironically, this came from a retired teacher who worked 45 years in district schools.
I never questioned her as to why she would say this, but coincidentally, I was asked to reflect on my reason for choosing a charter school. Honestly, I never thought too much about it. I just decided to give the school a chance.
However, over the course of my first week, I reflected on why I am glad that I chose to teach at a charter school.
1. I have freedom in my classroom
At my first professional development session with other music teachers, I casually asked what curriculum they used and how they felt about it. I was met with so many different takes on what was happening in each classroom. I came to find out, there isn’t a curriculum.
I like this take on learning better. My school believes in teaching students what they need to know. If I want to make sure my first graders understand how to keep a steady beat, I can do that before we move on to anything else during the school year. I find this to be especially important since I remember feeling as if we only had an allotted amount of time to learn things while I was in district schools.
At charter schools, it is perfectly okay to let your students master one thing before you let them move on to the next.
2. I can build closer relationships with my students
I’m a stickler for creating an authentic relationship with any student of mine. I want to care about what it is that the student wants me to know.
During my first week, I had a group of third grade girls ask to be in my ’lunch bunch.’ While they ate lunch, we talked about what they wanted to achieve in the future, their home lives, and favorite pastimes. After lunch was over, I felt so grateful that they even wanted to get to know me.
I also really appreciate the culture of the school itself. Everybody treats one another like family and the students take part in building relationships.
3. Teacher requirements
One thing that kept me out of the classroom for so long was the fact that I never met the requirements of a teacher. Even though I have earned two college degrees and have a significant amount of after-school teaching experience, I do not have a teaching degree or certification. I never even expected to have my application looked at, but at my charter school, plenty of educators like myself are sought after because what matters most is the quality of the material we teach to the soon-to-be leaders of the next generation.
I’m looking forward to seeing what else charter schools have to offer, but I really like what I have seen so far.
La’Vonne Tynes is a music teacher at the Friendship Public Charter School Chamberlain campus.