When I first started teaching, I was surplused to a Title 1 school in inner South Salt Lake. I was worried. I heard so many negative things in college from other students and some of my instructors about challenges I would face if I went to a Title 1 school.
While working at my school, I developed a love for what Title 1 can bring. It does have its challenges, but it also comes with many rewards.
Before i start with my list of 5 pros and cons of working at a Title 1 school, I highly recommend reading Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap by Paul C. Gorski. It educated me on the structures in place in society that are against this population.
It also explained how I could support my students that come from high poverty. Student-centered instruction and focusing on how persistence is what shows results and not focusing on intelligence.
Pros to Working at a Title 1 School
I work at a Title 1 school that serves our refugee population, and this is something I noticed instantly compared to where I taught before. I felt more appreciated by parents, while also having my students appreciate me more. I am not saying non Title 1 schools don’t have gratitude as well, but I felt it a lot more.
When giving a parent teacher conference for one of my students that was from Nepal, I had her parent tell me they appreciated everything I do for their student. They also wanted me to come to their house for a meal! I did not recieve this type of gratitude from my non Title 1 schools. It lifted my spirits on a weekly basis.
2. More Support Staff
When I worked at a non Title 1 school, we had few aides. The ones we had were for SPED. When I went to Title 1, I was told I would be given an aide for my reading small groups. I was shocked! I then found out that many Title 1 school use their federal funding for more paraprofessionals, which we know as teachers are a blessing!
My Title 1 school also has a full-time social worker. I rarely if ever saw my non Title 1 school social worker. Such a large benefit when supporting students.
Below is a YouTube video I created on what to expect when teaching at a Title 1 school.
3. More Available Funds for School Supplies
Since Title 1 receives more funding through the federal government, schools are able to purchase more needed items. Such as staff, school supplies, curriculum, technology. This is a much needed boost in funding, as some Title 1 schools are in low property tax areas where most school funding comes from.
4. Possible Higher Salary
At my school district, they provide a $1,000 stipend for those working at a Title 1 school. Not a huge perk, but getting paid a little bit extra is nice. We all have bills we have to pay, and it helps knowing you get a little more monetarily.
Ask your HR department for your district if you’re not sure whether there’s any monetary bonus for working Title 1.
5. Lack of Helicopter Parents
We have all had parents that are so much in your business that you cannot teach effectively. I had a helicopter parent that made me question whether I was an effective teacher and made me hate my job. It can be bad.
This goes back to pro #1 where some parents I have experienced at a Title 1 are grateful to have you helping their child. Many low income families need to work multiple jobs, so they are not able to be involved in their child’s academics. This can be a con as well. I will get more into that below.
Cons of Working at a Title 1 School
1. Lack of Parental Support
Due to many students at Title 1 schools living in poverty, their parent or parents are working multiple jobs. This can lead to little parent support in the classroom and at home. My Title 1 school did not have a PTA for many years due to no parents signing up.
I receive few attendees for back to school night and parent teacher conferences. At first I was annoyed with the lack of involvement, but then I read Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap and understood all the challenges these families may face.
2. Student Trauma
Many of my students that I have taught at Title 1 have experienced some type of trauma. Loss of a parent through many different means, physical and verbal abuse, or neglect. Working at Title 1 has made me want to become a foster parent, as there have been many students I have seen that needed a safe home.
I have become familiar with the protocol when contacting Child Protective Services. It’s a sad truth, but the best thing to do is know how to protect and fight for your students.
3. Student Behaviors
I have not experienced this as much in my classroom, but due to having higher risk or trauma and neglect, students can act out in numerous ways. My Title 1 school had 99% students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Many of these students only ate meals at school. Students that have to worry about their safety and basic needs will not be able to focus on school work.
Students can exhibit higher behaviors due to the above and it’s something to keep in mind. Be friendly with your behavior health assistant and social worker. They’ll support you and your students so much in many different ways.
4. Lack of Extracurriculars
Although Title 1 schools get additional funding, many cannot support extracurriculars due to lack of funding. Luckily some schools have community partners to help cover this. If not, students have lack of opportunities to continuing their learning after school.
5. Students Start Academically Disadvantaged
With all the circumstances students in Title 1 schools are subjected to, many are not able to learn due to not having their basic needs met. Some have parents working multiple jobs and are not exposed to books, reading, and parental support.
When working in Title 1 schools, it can be scary thinking you’re going to have many low students in your classroom. It also gives you a major opportunity to make a powerful impact on a student’s life.
I hope this list has given you some insight on the advantages and challenges working at a Title 1 school can bring. Working at one has changed my life for the better and I believe has made me a better teacher. No matter which school you work at, the biggest thing that has impacted my teaching is empathy and building relationships.
If you would like more information on the book that helped shape my experience working at Title 1 school, click on the link here.