Aspire Public Schools Elementary Teacher Reviews | Glassdoor

Aspire Public Schools Elementary Teacher Reviews

7 reviews

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Elementary Teacher

2.0
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Carolyn Hack
1 Rating

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Pros
  • And I did kind of enjoy the professional development faculty meetings on Wednesday afternoons (in 10 reviews)

  • Recent developments in cultivating positive work environment (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • Work/life balance can be a struggle if you don't set limits (in 9 reviews)

  • There are the standard long hours associated with all teaching jobs (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (4)

    "Truly Horrible Place to Work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Stockton, CA
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Stockton, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Nothing to say. I guess they had free parking. And I did kind of enjoy the professional development faculty meetings on Wednesday afternoons.

    Cons

    The students have a truly staggering amount of power and they know it. I really cannot believe how often I found myself fighting off "frivolous lawsuits," by which I mean student complaints to the administration, which I have to defend myself again. I truly could not wait to get out of this horrible environment. The students are stupid, boring, and mean. So are the administrators. The counselors are truly bothersome and are held to staggeringly low standards.

    Advice to Management

    Stop putting so much weight into the student complaints!


  2. Helpful (11)

    "Stay away from charter schools!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Aspire Public Schools full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Hardest working coworkers I'll ever have
    - My grade level team is outstanding

    Cons

    - Curriculum changes literally every year, so there's never a chance to really get good at it (as a teacher)
    - Everything is teach to the test. The entire focus of the year is getting higher SBAC scores in May.
    - Everything you do in the classroom is tied to your paycheck (student surveys, parent surveys, test scores, etc.). Research shows that merit-based pay is ineffective. So, if Aspire is so "data driven" as they claim, why do they pay us when data shows it doesn't work??
    - The rubric used to evaluate us doesn't match the way that we actually teach on a daily basis. It's all for show when we're evaluated. A formal lesson plan takes about 3 hours for teachers to create just to deliver a 20-minute lesson. Give me a break!
    - We work our butts off daily (including weekends), yet a recent email from the higher ups even admitted that we're having no effect on closing the achievement gap. So then why are we doing all this extra work?

    Advice to Management

    - If you're so data driven, then look at the data. Merit based pay doesn't work.
    - Stop evaluating teachers using a 20th century model. Students are learning in new ways and teachers are teaching in new ways. The rubric used to evaluate us is the old "stand and deliver" teaching model, which we don't do all day like we used to.
    - Quit being so cold. The overall culture from the top down is very corporate and cold.

  3. Helpful (6)

    "Insane Hours and Pressure, Wonderful Vision"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Memphis, TN
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Memphis, TN
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Aspire Public Schools full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Aspire truly cares about finding a way for students to succeed. They will not stop until every student is achieving the same as other students. Their goal is equity, not equality.

    Cons

    If you work this job, be sure you are not planning on having a social life. I worked about 14 hours Monday through Friday, and then I worked a full day and a half on weekends. If I did not work on our breaks, I felt like a slacker and would fall behind on planning for my students. Behaviors were also a huge difficulty with this job.

    Advice to Management

    Work-life balance is something that would help with teacher retention. Positivity from principals would also improve teacher retention.


  4. Helpful (4)

    "Wonderful for low socioeconomic students, but not so great for teachers with children of their own."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Aspire Public Schools full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Terrific learning environment for single, or young, teachers who have not yet had children of his/her own. Very data driven which serves to really focus on students' needs. If you are lucky enough to be on a good team for your grade level span, you will truly learn what collaboration and teamwork means. Ideal environment for first year teachers who are willing to learn and give 150% every day! Work load has improved with the incorporation of computers in each classroom. The organization's motto and values put students first. Plenty of opportunities for growth and leadership if you can handle the additional duties and responsibilities and can take feedback well.

    Cons

    Work-life balance has been and continues to be an issue for most teachers. The higher up the ranks you go, the less, or so it seems, work you put in. These are positions OUT of the classroom. If a principal favors you, your life will be much easier and certain responsibilities will be overlooked. However, if you are on the other end, be prepared to be given negative feedback veiled in "concern" of your data and teacher evaluations. A bad principal can make every day a bad one, but that may be true at any school. Don't expect HR to be on your side either. If you are on a competitive team of teachers, they may NOT truly be collaborative and share since money was previously tied into performance. Teachers have consistently asked for more pay (it is supposed to be addressed/fixed this year). Health benefits are good. Awesome team leaders can make life so much easier, but bad leaders make you look incompetent while he/she shines.

    Advice to Management

    Keep asking for feedback from your teachers and continue with the open door policy so teachers can alert you directly of any principal/administration concerns without retaliation. Everyone at home office seems like they truly care about the mission of Aspire and all the sacrifices that teachers have made, but there is still a disconnect between home office and how the L.A. principals are running the schools. High turnover in L.A. Might be time to analyze why our teachers are leaving.


  5. Helpful (6)

    "Totally unsustainable lifestyle."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Huntington Park, Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Huntington Park, Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Aspire Public Schools full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    From what I saw, the teachers and administrators at Aspire are truly dedicated to what they do. They are passionate about giving children the best, and success is celebrated across the board. The environment was pretty supportive for the most part. So, at the school level, you have passionate and talented people, young and hungry for that changing-the-world feeling. Keep doing what you do - and teachers, please fight for what you need in order to stay. Remember that you are this organization's greatest asset.

    Cons

    First problem: Curriculum and inability to use the curriculum. I was given curriculum and math books, but a few were missing. My teaching partner let me know that although I had been given this curriculum, it was not recommended that I use it very much. I found out very quickly that since the goal is of course a high score on the end-of-year exams, the status quo is that most teachers are creating their materials from scratch and tying it exactly to the test questions (my opinion on this method of teaching is irrelevant - I will do it if it is asked of me, but I wish there was a better curriculum to follow to accomplish this). Presentations, assessments, worksheets. You name it, I essentially had to create it or find it myself. The resources I could find online did not go well with the content standards. So, essentially I was teaching all day, going home and planning and creating materials, even setting an alarm sometimes for the middle of the night to get up and work. Regardless of how much I care about these students' success (and I care a lot,) do you think I can have my own kids someday and live that lifestyle? I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping enough. My hair was falling out. And worse, I had to go to therapy. I'm a hard worker and willing to put in more than 40 hours a week. But this was just insane.

     Second problem: Workshops. I was told by a few teachers that I could basically implement any games or activities I wanted into workshop time, which was great because I was able to borrow some games from another grade level - only to be told by my coach that I was NOT allowed to do this. There is a lot of confusion from teachers, to administrators, to coaches - it's like a game of telephone. This needs to be streamlined so that everyone is on the same page.

    Third problem: Student behavior. I realize I am in an urban area in Southern California, and I am going to experience some behavior issues with students. However, other schools have systems in place to create a good classroom culture from Day 1. I think that one reason Aspire has such a problem with this is the sudden high influx of new students in 4th grade - these kids have been in other problem-behavior type schools and are now coming to Aspire, and they have not been conditioned to behave the way that Aspire expects them to in order to do the types of lessons Aspire has us do. But also - the year that I started at my school was the first year ever that there had been a school-wide behavior plan. In my opinion, this is something that should have been implemented a long time before I got there. I have taught at public schools and was very able to control behavior with my other students under a variety of circumstances and with a variety of difficulties at home.

    Advice to Management

    You need to make things more manageable for teachers in order to decrease the turnover. You are only as strong as your talented teachers and hardworking administrators. You need stronger curriculum that they can use so that they aren't creating their own materials from scratch, and I would highly suggest an Aspire-wide behavior and classroom management plan to get students on the right track from Day 1 and establish an Aspire culture.


  6. "Absolutely no work-personal life balance!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Aspire Public Schools full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    They care about helping kids achieve and get to college. They have professional development (although way too much) to help teachers get better.

    Cons

    There is no balance between work and personal life. My nights and weekends are spent lesson planning. Everything (and I mean everything) must be made from scratch. There are no textbooks or resources to use to create lessons, worksheets, or workstations. There is constant testing (a different test every week) that feels like it never ends. The school I am at has lacked an effective principal and school-wide behavioral system, and as a result kids are extremely disrespectful and defiant toward many of the teachers. Aspire offers a "teacher resource portal" online to "help" with lesson plan ideas, however there is almost nothing in it and I don't know any teachers who use it. Low salary.

    Advice to Management

    Give your teachers more practical resources to help planning, stop having so many PDs during the week, and pay teachers what they're worth (70+ hr workweeks)!


  7. Helpful (5)

    "Great for Brainwashing Children"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    -Lots of training
    -Close-knit teams
    -Friendly families
    - Very nice benefit options if you are single
    - Administration is always encouraging new teaching methods

    Cons

    - LONG HOURS (even for a teacher)
    - Very "test" oriented, little time for teaching children real-life skills
    - Nearly no science, art, or music for the children
    - Three years, no raise
    - Administration often judged a teacher's success by the organization, cleanliness, and quietness of a classroom
    - Teachers were constantly stressed about 'state testing,' and had little time to let kids be kids

    Advice to Management

    Stop wasting money on salaries for upper level people and for new software and find a way to pay your teachers what they're worth.