Posts filed under ‘JOB HUNT’

Junior High Job

After school I checked my phone and found that I had a phone message. The exact transcript of the message follows:

Hi, [Mrs. Bees]. This is [Principal], from [Junior High]. Thank you so much for your interview. You did one of the best interviews I’ve ever been involved in, and I also appreciate the note you followed it up with today. We really had a tough choice, to be honest. You were second on the list. We did end up offering the position to someone else; he was just a little more experienced in this area. But please continue to apply for jobs in the [Urban] School District; you are an awesome candidate and I will do what I can to help in any way I can in you getting a position with [Urban] schools. If you have any questions please give me a call at [cell phone number]. Thank you and good luck! Bye bye.

I knew it was a “no” by the time she said her name – you can just tell, you know? A completely different timbre to the voice. My consolation is that if a person must be rejected for a job, this is a very nice way for it to happen. (Someone “in the know” has since confirmed that I was their second choice, and not by a wide margin, so she wasn’t just being kind.) Not only do I have an advocate on the inside – which is more precious than gold – but I know that I did very well on my first interview and that I have what it takes to get hired if there is an opening.

I’m disappointed. Could I not be? The school is beautiful, conveniently located, well-regarded. I had a good rapport with the staff I met. Moreover, it was a job – a job in my preferred district, which rarely falls within reach of those of us fresh out of student teaching. (The other day someone asked me if I hadn’t done my “year of subbing” as if it were a written requirement of applying for a job in Urban District.) A job means Mr. Bees and I can stop worrying, means that we’ll have income and benefits, means that we can officially start the countdown before we start our family.

But I’m okay. It’s just… one of those things, right? It will turn out for the best, I really do believe that. As excited as I had become about the possibility of teaching ninth grade English, I still have a desire to teach seniors. Maybe an opportunity is just waiting for me to stumble upon it.

 

* I wrote a thank-you note and had Mr. Bees, who was available while I was busy teaching, hand-deliver it for me.

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June 12, 2008 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment

More About Eva

I got Eva’s IEP today. Without going into much detail, hers are basically emotional issues rather than learning disabilities. My accommodations are simple enough: keep her in smaller groups (ha) and keep her on task.

The summer school AP came in today and told me that he had met with Eva’s mom. Apparently she told him that I had already given her and Eva more help than they had ever received from an English teacher. I was flabbergasted. I mean, I’m sure there’s more than one side to THAT story, but seriously… I did so little. All I did was ask for the IEP and send a couple of quickly dashed-off emails! Could it really be true that no one has even ever done that much? It’s no wonder if Eva has a bad attitude about school!

Anyway, the AP asked if he could sit in my class for a few minutes (to observe Eva, not me). When he came in, we were sitting at the six-person conference table reading “The Most Dangerous Game” aloud. I read for a bit, pausing here and there to ask pointed questions or add information, and then passed it to Eva. She reads well.

Later, the AP returned to tell me that he was pleased with what he had seen. He admitted to getting drawn into the story, and really liked the way I was guiding their reading. He liked the little arrangement of desks and said that I was doing the right thing, to keep on doing what I was doing. He also said that he would be happy to put in a good word for me if I had any future interviews, which was really nice to hear. It’s good to have people who are supportive of you, no?

 

I feel like I’m blogging a lot about how great everything is, how great I am. I think it is just because I am so relieved to find that I am not completely screwing up now that I am in solo charge of my own class. Getting positive feedback is enormously helpful, particularly if you consider the things I haven’t really blogged about – my fumbles, snafus, mistakes. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that teaching isn’t hard! I’m nursing a sore throat, not from a germ or allergy but from talking. I haven’t had time to eat breakfast or lunch all week because I’m too busy running around trying to clean up after myself and the things I’ve forgotten. I’m having to completely rewrite my agenda on a daily basis because I haven’t yet gotten the hang of the summer school class period or the pace of the class. (It’s tough because my quiet little PM class moves almost twice as fast as my talkative, larger AM class.)

Ultimately I am writing this blog for myself more than for an outside audience at this point. Every day goes by so quickly, and they blur together. It seems like I am switching between two settings: my classroom, and my bed. And I guess I am inadvertently focusing on the good things more than on the bad. Most of the things I’ve done badly haven’t been what you’d call notable, or even learning experiences; if I get something worth a blog post I’m not ashamed to expound on it. 🙂

June 12, 2008 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

Interview Recap

The interview seemed to go really well. I immediately took a liking to the principal and to the school, and quite liked the AP and the head of English as well. We sat at a conference table and they told me a bit about the school and the position, then went around the table and asked me some of the most difficult interview questions I’d ever had. (May have seemed harder given how tired I am; coming straight off of 8 hours of teaching to an interview is tough.)

The position is one of two ninth grade English teachers for the school, with three regular classes, one honors, and one modified (a small class with students who need extra help – English language learners who are fluent enough to leave the ELL class but not enough to be in regular, special education students who can be integrated but can’t make it in a regular class, etc.).

I fear I may have come across a bit unfocused or rambly; I caught myself a few times repeating myself. They were especially interested in modified/differentiated instruction. They also asked questions about my classroom arrangement, classroom management, etc.. I got asked how I would deal with a fight in the hallway, what my one classroom rule would be if I had to choose, and where I would like to be in five years.

The rapport felt good; there was a lot of smiling and laughing, and I asked some good questions that they seemed to appreciate. I don’t necessarily feel that this was my best interview I’ve ever given, but it was still strong. Ultimately, I am who I am, and I can bring what I can bring. I can’t change the fact that I have no actual experience. And if they are looking for a particular thing, I can’t control that.

I am trying pretty hard not to get excited. I have a bad tendency to prematurely enumerate barn fowl, so I have to keep reminding myself that this is only my first interview and that whatever happens it was a good experience. The school is a REALLY good school, though. It is in a great community, is a newer building with nice amenities, has high test scores and a very positive culture. I love the programs they’ve brought in, too.

The last thing the interviewers told me was that they planned to make their decision by the end of the week and that they will call me one way or the other, so at least I won’t be in suspense for long!

June 11, 2008 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

Interview!!

En route to Kinko’s last night my phone decided to tell me that I had a voice mail. It had been recorded at about 2:30 PM; seven hours had passed.

The voice mail was from the principal of a very good junior high school about twenty minutes from my home, in Urban School District. She asked me to come in for an interview for a ninth grade English position.

I called back and will be going in for an interview tomorrow at 4:30, which means that I either need to really zip out of here or arrange to leave a little early…

The thing is, based on the system and the district and everything, I’m really excited to have gotten a phone call so early in the summer. This must mean that I was very highly rated! Bodes well for the future, regardless of what happens with this particular position.

Whee!

June 10, 2008 at 12:11 pm Leave a comment

Recommended

A pivotal part of this teacherly job hunt has been the collection of recommendation letters. Urban School District prefers what is called a “closed placement file,” which means that my letter writers sent their contributions to a neutral third party (in my case, the university career center) who then sends the letters to districts on my behalf. I am not permitted to see the letters; the idea is that the job hunter will then be unable to cherry-pick the “best” letters for his/her packet. (Hopefully, an applicant would know who will write strong letters, thus rendering this precaution somewhat arbitrary.)

In my case, most of my letter-writers voluntarily offered me personal copies of their letters. In fact, two of them showed me drafts and asked if there was anything I would suggest, and one wrote his letter while I sat in the next chair. (That was uncomfortable – but a good idea; he was able to ask me clarifying questions that helped him focus his letter.)

Ultimately, I asked for and received letters from my mentor teacher, my university supervisor, the principal of CHS, one of my favorite education professors, and one of my favorite English professors. I was fortunate enough to be able to read all of these letters except the principal’s; my mentor spoke to him, however, and indicated that the letter would have been a strong one.

Today I went by CHS to take care of some business in preparation for summer teaching, and there was a folder waiting for me from one of the assistant principals. I opened it and found an unsolicited letter of recommendation. It’s clearly not a form letter – in fact, it indicates a level of familiarity with my work that I hadn’t realized the AP had. It is a very nice, very strong letter. Perhaps my favorite line comes near the end:

I strongly recommend her for a teaching position and know that this is the kind of person that gives back to people and the institution way more than she ever takes.

I would definitely like to think that this is the case. I’m the sort of teacher who really buys into the school culture; you’ll see me at games, performances, graduations – and not because I feel obligated, but because I enjoy them. I wear school colors, adopt the mascot, pay attention to matters of school politics and development. I love to build programs and events. Most of all, I genuinely love the students and care about them as people. I’m so interested in who they are outside and beyond the classroom. The hardest thing for me is when the kids walk out of the room at the end of the year, and I am uncertain if I will ever know what becomes of them.

Anyway. I am just blown away at the AP’s gesture. It always makes you feel good to get a strong recommendation letter, but this goes above and beyond that. For a busy assistant principal to take the time to write a lengthy personal letter, under his own volition and without my request – that says something. It makes me feel really good that he noticed me, was pleased with what he saw, and wants to help me find a position.

June 5, 2008 at 5:46 pm 1 comment

Paycheck!

I got a job!!

Well, kinda.

I was in the right place (next to my mentor teacher) at the right time (the moment when the principal of our summer school learned that one of their English teachers quit at the eleventh hour) and now I’m going to teach a semester of ninth grade English this summer. It will last about 3 and a half weeks, mostly in June, two classes a day. The pay is awesome (around $23 an hour) and the experience is priceless. Plus, it’s at CHS. Mr. Bees will be in classes at the time anyway, and we could definitely use the money.

The first semester of 9th grade English is pretty cool. Short stories and poetry. I’m excited…

In other good news, both DR and BR recently expressed confidence that I will be able to get a job this year. Feels good to hear it from people “in the know.”

May 28, 2008 at 10:09 pm 3 comments

Interview Update

My screening interview with Urban School District today went, as far as I can tell, quite well.

I arrived a little later than I’d intended, which wasn’t an auspicious start; fortunately, my watch and my interviewer’s watch didn’t agree, giving me the undeserved appearance of earliness. I ended up in a corner of the district offices I hadn’t known existed in what might be the nicest cubicle I’d ever seen, complete with frosted glass door, a wall of bookcases, and enough room to turn around.

The interview started off on strong footing because I had had the good fortune to meet my interviewer before. In fact, I’d invited her to come in and observe my class while I was student teaching. It hadn’t been a particularly sterling day of instruction, but she had enjoyed herself and had a lot of good things to say about me at the time – including a very positive district evaluation sheet such as they would use for an in-service teacher. (Thank you to the CHS math teacher who suggested I try to get a recommendation letter from the district department head! She couldn’t give me a letter, since she’d be interviewing me, but it was DEFINITELY worth it to have her observe me.)

Interviewer (let’s call her Mrs. I) started off by asking me about classroom management situations. I told her the story of two girls and how I had been able to reach one but not the other, and we had a nice frank discussion about how difficult it can be to find the right way to connect with some students. Next Mrs. I asked a couple of questions about how I incorporate grammar, technology, etc. into my instruction.

When Mrs. I asked me whether I thought journaling was valuable to students, I responded “Absolutely.” She raised an eyebrow as she started to take notes, so I continued. I talked about how it can help with writing confidence and fluency, how it can help a student develop their own voice. I told her how every writing class I’d ever taken had urged us to journal, and that I had never been successful at keeping a journal until I tried doing it on a computer. I told her how powerful I had found it. Then I came back to the question and acknowledged that I believe that the way that journaling is incorporated into some classrooms is NOT effective, at least not to all students. I talked about some of the drawbacks of classroom/structured journaling and about how I would try to avoid those drawbacks. I admitted that it seemed more helpful with older students than younger, but that I hadn’t seen it used very often with younger grades; Mrs. I told me about how she used journaling in a second grade classroom before moving to administration. Then she asked me about privacy issues in journaling, and I got to expound on that for a while. (This paragraph, and this question, were really interesting to me – I think I’ll save details of my opinions for their own post, whaddaya think?)

The next question is apparently the one that EVERY teacher gets asked: what are you reading? I had forgotten about it, but fortunately was ready with an authentic answer. I’d just finished one book and was starting another, and we were able to chat for a moment about the two books. She recommended another book to me based on the one I’d just finished, and my new book (I’m reading that Twilight book that all the high school girls are carrying around – curious as to what all the hype is about) prompted a brief discussion of vampire literature.

At the end of it she asked if there was anything else I would like her to know about myself. This was awesome; it gave me a chance to talk about school atmosphere and how much I buy into the “whole school” – school spirit, colors, mascot, athletics, performing arts, etc.. I got to talk about my strengths in content knowledge and technology, too.

Finally Mrs. I asked if I had any other questions. The primary one, of course, was whether or not there were likely to be any job openings this summer. She believes that there may be – very good to hear.

Basically, Urban School District screens all of their applicants and then gives them a rating based on that interview and their resume, transcript, letters of recommendation, and test scores. That rating goes anywhere from 1 (someone they would never consider hiring) to 5 (top prospects). The rating is completely confidential, and I will never know what I received (although if I get a 1 or a 5 I will probably figure it out eventually). When a principal realizes that he or she will have a job opening that will not be filled by an in-district transfer, s/he calls up the district office and asks for a manifest. They then receive a list of the top-rated applicants to call for a second-round interview.

I feel like I did well. The interview was easy, because I “knew all the answers” – I feel confident about my teaching experiences and philosophy, and just had to tell the truth when she asked questions. I know that my transcript is good (although I sure do wish I had more endorsements) and my test scores are strong. Three of my letter-writers showed me a draft before sending in their letters, and they were quite positive. I don’t have other resumes against which to compare my own, but I know mine is very pretty (hooray for a tech writing background). 🙂 I can’t say with any confidence what rating I believe I received, but I also can’t think of anything I could have done to place myself higher.

So now we have the waiting game…

May 22, 2008 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment

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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

I am striving to maintain anonymity on this blog so that I may more freely interact with my fellow edubloggers. If you know who I am, please help me protect my anonymity in your comments. I use pseudonyms or initials for everyone I write about to preserve their anonymity as well.