If you are new to substitute teaching, or if you've only had experience with public schools, you might have some questions about the charter schools that you see starting up or growing in your area. In this article, you can learn the basics about charter schools and what it is like to substitute teach in these settings.
What are charter schools?
Charter schools are schools that are given approval by their state government to operate within or outside of the public education system. Some charter schools are embedded within public schools districts while others are completely independent of their local district.
However, most charter schools are "public" charters, meaning that they do not charge tuition, they receive state funding, they have to provide equitable access for families that wish to attend through annual lotteries and waitlists, and they must provide all education services required under federal and state education laws, such as special education services, Title IX protections, and so forth. Although public charter schools receive state funding, some also rely on private funding for the specialty programs that they offer.
What do charter schools do differently than public schools?
Charter schools typically have a special focus or offer specialty programs. Common examples include schools focused around arts, sciences, technology, traditional/classical curriculum, athletics, agriculture, behavioral needs, and high school credit recovery. Charter schools are often created to fill a need in a community, such as the example of a charter school that helps students with high school credit recovery. Other charter schools are created to offer a unique focus that families may be interested in, such as the example of an arts-based charter school.
Charter schools range in size from a single campus to a network of campuses nationwide. Campus sizes vary as well, from small schools of only a couple hundred students to large campuses of thousands of students. With different focuses and campus sizes, the "feel" of each school can be quite unique.
Are there charter schools in my area?
In the last decade, there has been an explosion of charter schools across the United States. Charter schools are now operating in almost every metro and large suburban area. So with the exception of rural areas, you are likely going to have a number of charter schools near you!
What is it like to substitute teach in charter schools?
The experience of substitute teaching in charter schools is similar to public schools in most ways. Students are organized by grade and study a variety of subjects throughout the day. Students have typical schedules with learning times, recess times (elementary) or passing periods (middle/high), and lunch time. Students in charter schools are required to study the same core subjects as those in public school, such as math, reading, and writing.
Your duties as a substitute will also be similar to working in a public school: You will check in with the office staff at the start of the day, receive a lesson plan left by the teacher you are covering, take attendance, facilitate activities, and manage classroom behavior. You are able to get support from school aides, nearby teachers, or the office if you have questions or have a significant challenge arise with students.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference is that charters may have a unique set of classes based on the school's focus. You may have opportunities that you never imagined, such as substituting for an equine science or horticulture class in an agriculture-focused charter school, or substituting for a musical theater or clogging class in an arts-based charter school. In most cases, you are not required to have any special background! Just like public schools, the staff appreciate having your help delivering the lesson plans that teachers leave when they are out.
Is substitute teacher pay comparable to public school districts?
Substitute teacher pay in charter schools is comparable to public schools, which varies by area. You should know that for both charter schools and public school districts, substitute teacher pay tends to be lower when you are hired directly by a school or district. Schools pay internal substitutes lower rates and then offer higher rates when they post externally to attract substitutes to take unfilled jobs.
Many substitute teaching companies work the same way as schools, where substitutes are paid the internal rate, so make sure that you read the details and explore all your options before making a decision on joining a school or company. Senya is proud to stand out among substitute teaching companies by connecting substitutes to the best substitute teacher pay rates and offering the Tier Bonus Program, where substitute teachers can earn up to 25% more money per job!
I hear that charter schools sometimes hire substitute teachers for other permanent roles. Is this true?
Yes, this is absolutely true! Schools are facing significant staffing shortages across the United States and are always on the lookout for friendly, reliable people who have a passion for working in schools. As you substitute in different schools, you are able to build relationships with the administrators, staff, and students; substitutes who develop a positive relationship are on the top of school's minds when they have an opening or sudden need.
Many of Senya's substitute teachers are offered permanent, full-time positions within charter schools, such as classroom aides, library aides, support staff, and even teacher positions if you have a college degree. Substitute teaching is a great for those who might be interested in a career in education or for those who would like to explore different local schools before deciding where to apply. If you are interested in moving toward a permanent position, you can substitute at desired campuses more frequently, and as your relationship grows with school staff, you can share your interest and stay in the loop about upcoming openings.