Agora Cyber Charter School Interview Questions.

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It's always hard to know what to expect when going in for that interview -- and preparation can make all the difference. What is the interview process like at Agora Cyber Charter School?

Any advice on striking the right note?

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flyingms2 in Langhorne, Pennsylvania

35 months ago

I was recently hired by Agora (starting this fall). With a Master's degree and 3 years of teaching experience, my salary will be $37,500, with a bonus of up to 10%, depending on how much I participate in face-to-face additional activities.

They have hired a third-party, Insperity, to conduct initial screening of applicants. The screening process involves 3 steps:
1) Take an online psycho-behavioral assessment (about 45 min) - to make sure you're not a crazy lunatic
2) Prepare and teach a 20-minute online lesson in your content area, using their online learning system (Blackboard). You basically sign up for a 30-day free trial of the software (to have access to it), then prepare, practice, and deliver a lesson at a mutually-agreed upon time and date. They give you about a week to prepare. As info...you SHOULD spend some time with this system until you are comfortable, then PRACTICE on a family member or friend, BEFORE you do your demo lesson for real.
3) If you pass the above screenings, then they will invite you to a face-2-face interview with a couple of Agora staff.

4) After I did all this, it was about a week and a half before I got a solid offer - the offer came directly from Agora, not Insperity.

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flyingms2 in Langhorne, Pennsylvania

35 months ago

Interview questions included:
1) Do you have any experience working with at-risk students?
2) How would you handle a student who lacks motivation?
3) How would you differentiate instruction in an online classroom?
4) What if your student has an unusual schedule (i.e. works during the day) and needed extra help?
5) Would you be available to travel about once a month?
6) Since you'll be working out of your home, how would you minimize distractions? (i.e. from family members etc.)

They seemed most interested in the at-risk student issue as they have about 67% of their students on free/reduced lunch. The two people who interviewed me told me that cyber school is often a last-stop in the public system for students who have not succeeded in regular schools.

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sr0327 in West Chester, Pennsylvania

20 months ago

Just curious how long it took for them to invite you to a face-face interview after the demo lesson?

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flyingms2 in Levittown, Pennsylvania

20 months ago

Um...gosh it's been so long, it's hard to remember....this would have been July of 2012.
I think it was about 2 weeks between the demo and the f2f interview - not any longer than that. They had to fill positions quickly for their August start....I was interviewed by two people, both teachers, not administrators.

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sr0327 in West Chester, Pennsylvania

20 months ago

flyingms2 in Levittown, Pennsylvania said: Um...gosh it's been so long, it's hard to remember....this would have been July of 2012.
I think it was about 2 weeks between the demo and the f2f interview - not any longer than that. They had to fill positions quickly for their August start....I was interviewed by two people, both teachers, not administrators.

Thanks for replying. I had a demo lesson last Friday with them ..I thought it went well but I haven't heard back from them.

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Lauren A. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

19 months ago

I have been a teacher in Philadelphia for 8 1/2 years. I have a face to face interview next week. Were you in a brick and mortar school for your three years? Can you please tell me how Agora compares to working at a traditional school? Now that you have worked there for over a year, would you still make the same choice to take a position at Agora? I am a mother of two little children (in Levittown too!) and I am looking to simplify life. How many hours a day do you end up working? I'd really appreciate any feedback you can give me. My personal email address is lweisman@philasd.org. Thank you!!!

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flyingms2 in Levittown, Pennsylvania

19 months ago

Lauren A. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania said: I have been a teacher in Philadelphia for 8 1/2 years. I have a face to face interview next week. Were you in a brick and mortar school for your three years? Can you please tell me how Agora compares to working at a traditional school? Now that you have worked there for over a year, would you still make the same choice to take a position at Agora? I am a mother of two little children (in Levittown too!) and I am looking to simplify life. How many hours a day do you end up working? I'd really appreciate any feedback you can give me. My personal email address is lweisman@philasd.org. Thank you!!!

Hello, Lauren,
Well, I won't lie to you...morale is not very good right now at Agora....this year has been rather chaotic compared with last year, which was my first year here.

To answer your questions, yes, I taught in a brick and mortar charter school for 3 years in Northeast Philly - Franklin Towne Charter High School at the Armory on Bridge STreet in Bridesburg, if you know where that is. It was a great school, with incredibly strong systems to keep kids accountable.

However, I lost my position due to budget cuts, along with teachers from every other department at that school. Agora was the first solid offer I had, and I took it because I really didn't see much else on the horizon.

About a month later, the CEO from my former school called to offer me my old job back, because the charter had been expanded, and they could bring back some teachers. But I chose not to return, mostly for personal reasons (I wanted to be home for my own school-aged children when they got off the bus, etc).

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flyingms2 in Levittown, Pennsylvania

19 months ago

So I did have a choice, and I chose Agora. Would I make the same choice again, knowing what I know now? Truly, I am not sure. Teaching online is not what I expected, but then I did not know what to expect. I guess I thought students who enrolled in cyber schools would have their acts together. But they don't. In fact, I would say we get the bottom of the barrel, mostly.

And there is NO accountability for the students. We cannot bring them in for detentions, or teacher appointments, or Saturday detentions, or any of that. We CAN call home, but half the time the phone numbers are nonworking numbers, or disconnected.

Of course I have good students, and they are the ones that keep me going.....but they are in the minority. My passing rate last year was around 80% I think by the end of the year, which was TERRIBLE for me. Previously, at Franklin Towne I RARELY had kids that failed.....

Right now, my passing rate is around 54%. And that's because I can't get the kids to actually DO the work. The ones who DO are fine.

All of that would be OK except for the fact that this year Administration is heaping non-instructional tasks onto us teachers right and left. So I barely have time to plan/prep DURING my day, which means I do a "night shift" just about every night after I get my OWN kids in bed.

The teachers are up in arms over this and there is a union-organizing effort in full swing right now because so many are fed up with the way Admin seems to always be re-writing our job descriptions without asking for OUR input.

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flyingms2 in Levittown, Pennsylvania

19 months ago

There ARE some positive aspects of the job. You DO get to work from home. You DO have flexibility (I was able to duck out for 45 minutes to attend my OWN daughter's parent-teacher conference). The benefits are very good (I pay NOTHING for VERY good health insurance). And my fellow teachers are awesome people and great teammates. EVERYONE helps each other out here....we have to or we'd lose our sanity!

I do a LOT less grading, but a LOT more administrative work, and I spend a LOT more time communicating (or trying to) with students vie phone and email.....and then documenting these efforts.

I think a lot of parents and students mistakenly think cyber school will be less work for them, when in reality it is MORE. And it requires the students to take MORE responsibility for their learning thatn traditional bricks-and-mortar students. I teach in the middle school, and I think a lot of parents feel they can go off to work and trust their 6th/7th/8th grader to attend live sessions and do the work on their own. In reality, I think many just log into class and then go play their Xbox.

Even so, I have found this very professionally frustrating...and hard to NOT take personally. A 54% passing rate makes me feel like a horrible teacher....even though I know intellectually it is NOT because of ME...but rather the STUDENT who is NOT doing the work.....

Sorry if this sounds very negative, but you deserve to know what you are walking into. If you can handle these stresses, and value the time at home/flexibility, then you will be OK. - Jen

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Lauren A. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

19 months ago

Thank you so much for all of your feedback!!!!! I teach in Olney, for the PSD, so I understand chaos and change. Thank you for the information about the insurance. I really thought it wouldn't be nearly as good as what I have now. Are you able to pay into the pension system working for Agora? Could you possibly share with me what a typical day is like for you? Do you keep your kids home with you? I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old. How much time is spent with the students? Do you have to travel a lot? Thank you so much for taking the time to get back to me. I don't want to make an uninformed decision if I choose to take a position at Agora.

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