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Uncommon Schools Reviews

Updated February 19, 2018
190 reviews

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3.6
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Brett Peiser
88 Ratings

190 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • There is a strong emphasis on employee professional development (in 37 reviews)

  • Staff culture is great-everyone I work with is positive, hard-working, supportive, and driven by our mission to close the achievement gap (in 9 reviews)

Cons
  • I would say it is a bit on work life balance however the schools have worked to improve this over time (in 38 reviews)

  • Long hours and competitive politics (in 40 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Special Projects Coordinatior"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Special Projects Coordinator in Newark, NJ
    Current Employee - Special Projects Coordinator in Newark, NJ
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    A great, energetic place to work. Coworkers and supervisors are all very passionate and eager and everyone pushes each other to do better. The job is varied which means no day is ever boring.

    Cons

    It can be difficult finding a good work/life balance since the hours are long.


  2. "Copy tech"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Uncommon Schools part-time

    Pros

    Great school, great work atmosphere

    Cons

    No arts or sports at elementary level

  3. Helpful (1)

    "You will learn SO much!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Uncommon Schools full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - Most rewarding job in the world
    - Will meet the best people who will become forever friends
    - Hardest working teachers, parents, and scholars
    - Will learn more in one year here than 3 years anywhere else
    - Will learn a lot about yourself

    Cons

    - This job will take over your life (which can also be a pro) and it can be extremely difficult for even the most organized people to find a balance and get in a productive and healthy rhythm.
    - Very high pressure and demands, can be hard to be real about how much you can handle without feeling like you're letting someone down or not doing a good enough job
    - NO ego. Be ready for constant feedback and criticism and to NOT take it personally. You just have to deal. (Also a positive, but can be negative for some people).

    Advice to Management

    Sustainability is SO important for the success of the school and the children and needs to continue to be a huge priority. Struggling schools with inexperienced teachers need more help- more ILs, more DCIs, more coaching.


  4. "Good experience for a social worker if you already have experience."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Uncommon Schools full-time

    Pros

    Great level of independence as a social worker, which is great if you know what you're doing. Lots of training and supervision.

    Cons

    Schools do not promote social/emotional growth of students. High stress environment for teachers with very long hours.

    Advice to Management

    Shorten school day or pay higher wage to account for 60-70 hour work week. Recess should be in all elementary schools, and opportunities for social growth should be part of the daily schedule.


  5. Helpful (2)

    "9th Grade Teacher"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Uncommon Schools full-time

    Pros

    Great kids, pay is decent (but not for the work-load), great benefits, and you don't need to be certified to gain teaching experience.

    Cons

    Workload of 12-16 hours/day. You have to be physically in the school from 7:50-4:00, unless there is a mandatory morning meeting to practice walking around the room and giving deductions to imaginary students or you're doing detention, tutoring, or a club after school, which is most days. Most teachers are in the building from 7 to 7, or later. The workload is actually unmanageable, and the leadership has unreasonable expectations and as a staff are condescending and belittling. White co-workers are micro-aggressively racist to staff and students. It is a negative, toxic space.

    Advice to Management

    Hire substitutes. End morning meetings to practice doing dumb things. Prioritize education and humanity over behavior.


  6. "Great professional Development"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Uncommon Schools full-time

    Pros

    Great professional development. Supportive staff. Meaningful mission.

    Cons

    Poor work-life balance. Micromanaged.

    Advice to Management

    Figure out a way to make this great job sustainable.


  7. Helpful (5)

    "Burn out factory driven by the standardized test"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Middle School Teacher in Newark, NJ
    Current Employee - Middle School Teacher in Newark, NJ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    --Social justice mission
    --Collaborative work culture

    Cons

    I work at North Star Academy, the flagship Uncommon School in Newark, as a middle school teacher. The curriculum (including all lesson plans) are handed to you as a teacher, so there is almost no room for creativity or innovation in the classroom. Moreover, the way you speak, act, instruct, manage, grade, evaluate--every aspect of teaching--is micromanaged by the bureaucratic higher-ups. They are constantly bringing in young, first-time educators because they want to mold them into being North Star teachers who are rote as robots.

    Students are held to very similar standards. They are told how to sit, stand, walk, speak, where to put their eyes, and are punished for the smallest of infractions. Certainly there are valid defenses for strict discipline, but students are treated as singular machines, expected to write, think, and act the same way. There is no focus on individual students, individual learning styles, or any type of social-emotional learning. The whole school system is based on "Do it in the next 3, 2, 1," and students who cannot comply are penalized.

    Then there is the obsession with PARCC, the Common Core standardized test. For a charter organization that claims its goal is to get every student into college, they place almost no effort into getting students to think creatively, the way they will need to in university. Instead, almost every moment of every lesson is geared towards getting students to pass their standardized tests. English classes become drills in multiple choice, where we take layered literature like "Night" or "Othello," and reduce them to multiple choice questions and summative writing exercises. Students are forced to take exams constantly, including quarterly Interim Assessments which are modeled after the PARCC. And students who, according to the "data," scored in the lower half of the class are placed in "Small Group Instruction," two additional hours per week where they are forced to take more PARCC-style tests.

    Staff is overworked and deadlines are almost constant, sometimes for tasks that are so far removed from the actual act of teaching that it's laughable. While the teachers are all supportive of one another, upper management is holistically incompetent and more obsessed with numbers than with humans. They pack classrooms (30 students per class), demand first-time teachers lead two-hour lessons every day, and then wonder why teacher turn-around is so egregious.

    Advice to Management

    Let teachers teach! Place less emphasis on passing the standardized test (which has more effect on the charter organization than it does on the students), and give students the creative thinking skills they will need in college and in the 21st Century workplace. Invest in technology, and give teachers more autonomy over their lessons.

  8. "It was wonderful to work at Uncommon Schools"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The leadership and professional development

    Cons

    Long hours and competitive politics

    Advice to Management

    n/a


  9. "Great schools, stressful environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Uncommon Schools full-time

    Pros

    Lots of professional development, dedicated teaching staff

    Cons

    Long hours, lack of teacher retention

    Advice to Management

    N/A


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Mission Drive Organization"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Uncommon Schools full-time

    Pros

    Uncommon is truly driven by its mission to serve every scholar in its hallways. It's a data driven organization that cares about your perspective, whether you're a teacher, school leader, or at its Home Office.

    Cons

    The cost to ensuring student achievement and incredible results is teacher burn out. Uncommon is beginning to focus on sustainability, even implementing a monthly sustainability day, but more can still be done to keep teachers from burning out.


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