Teaching Tuesday: Teaching in Different School Settings

By Tracy Vasquez, Emily Farkas, and Dusty Sanchez, faculty

diverse students raising hands in charter school

As you consider a path into the field of education, it is important to keep in mind the various school settings with very different environments. As a teacher, or future teacher, you could find your best fit in a private, charter or public school. Each of these settings brings differences in the areas of curriculum, School Culture and teacher expectations.


Charter and public schools follow district-approved academic standards and have consistent expectations for student achievement. To measure and track student achievement, these schools utilize standardized testing. Private schools can be independent, belong to an association or be affiliated with a religious group.

The curriculum for private schools can vary greatly and standardized testing may or may not be a part of the assessment practices. Some private schools may opt to utilize nationally-utilized reference exams in order to maintain quality, in lieu of typical standardized tests (i.e. private high schools expect students to take SAT or ACT exams).

This allows the private school to maintain the integrity of their own curriculum. In addition to testing differences, the mode of instructional delivery of the curriculum may span a set of diverse strategies as well. Teacher expectations and differentiation are unique based on the curriculum, the school resources (like available technology), community and students served. While public schools must follow guidelines specific to special education, charter and private schools are not always mandated to uphold these guidelines.


Teaching in different settings also illuminates differences in school culture. Some charter and private schools are built on a foundation of a particular initiative. This focus may emerge as an interest in music and the arts, technology integration, classical education, character education, or religious foundations. Observing in a classroom such as this may reveal different approaches to education while focusing on one of the areas above.

As you consider what climate you are seeking in your educational future, reflect on a variety of approaches to develop your own educational philosophy. A review of district, school and classroom websites can highlight specifics on the culture and climate. This includes the vision and mission, school wide classroom management approaches, teacher collaboration, community connections and populations served.

Teacher Expectations

In each school setting, the requirements for educators may vary. To teach in a public school or district almost always requires a certification from the state in the area in which you plan to teach. Conversely, teaching in a charter or private school, you will need to meet the expectations set by the school. This may include an analysis of your transcript, completed trainings or other qualifications.

Just as these qualifications can vary greatly from each type of school, the educator annual pay, pay scale and other benefits, can also vary greatly. For example, public school teachers, as part of their local state retirement system, can earn a retirement and receive income throughout retirement.

Teaching in each of these school settings can look and feel very different. If you are passionate about sharing and teaching about your religion, a private religious school may be your best fit. If you are deeply immersed in your content field, such as chemistry, you may find a place to thrive in a charter school that integrates a focus on science integration. However, if you have a passion for working with students of diverse needs to meet their fullest potential, the public school setting may be right for you. Finding the best fit for you will require you to conduct research, participate in observations and networking as you learn about the uniqueness of each school setting.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.