Guess what? I are an English teacher!

Somehow or the other, I have beaten the odds and found myself a job as an English teacher!!

I interviewed at what I will call LMS, in the Suburban School District, on August 7. The interview felt like it went pretty well, but I never feel like I exactly know – especially considering I got only two hours of sleep the night before. The local Educator Grapevine began buzzing shortly thereafter; the Asst. Principal called my mentor teacher and got a resounding recommendation from her (I love you and owe you a lunch, DR). I had discovered that one of my grad school cohorts teaches at LMS; she told me that she’d heard the interview went well.

Every day felt like a week. There was a point in time when I wanted nothing more than to teach middle school, and a point in time when I felt I preferred high school; after interviewing at LMS I wanted to teach THERE and nowhere else. I mean, I tried to hedge my emotional bets; I told myself and my loved ones that I would be perfectly happy at a different school, that whatever was intended to happen would happen. But I was definitely counting those unhatched chickens.

A couple of phone calls and phone messages later,  I was really excited. Things sounded positive.

I was supposed to find out by 8:30 AM on Wednesday. By 2 PM today, I knew that I was going to be a seventh grade English teacher.

I haven’t done paperwork yet, due to some timing issues, but I’m scheduled for new teacher orientation Thursday and Friday. I’ve met the principal, however, and gotten a look inside the classrooms. I’m going to be teaching four classes of English 7 (writing) and one class of English 7 (literature) first semester; the lit class turns into a 6th grade keyboarding class in the spring. There’s another class in there that hasn’t been determined yet. I’m also – and I’m really excited about this – going to be advising student council. I know that student council at the middle school level is more emerging leadership than actual government, but I’m excited about the prospect of teaching some of the skills I’ve learned through membership in and advisement of student organizations.

The scariest/stupidest thing I did, in terms of counting those darn chickens, was thinking about a classroom. To me, one of the coolest things about teaching is having that space to yourself, that space to decorate and fill and make your own. I  knew it was a bad idea to get my head going that direction. Many first-year teachers share classrooms or travel from room to room with a book cart (hence “cart teacher”). Still, it was just too much fun NOT to think about.

Well… I have a classroom. (!!!) There was a slight confusion with the room number, and the room I’m currently assigned still has another teacher’s things in it, so I’m not 100% positive which room will be mine once I can officially begin moving in. Apparently the current inhabitant is changing subjects and moving to another wing of the building. I was able to wander around the school and take a look inside several classrooms. Mine is like most in that it doesn’t have a window or a computer projector, but it seems to be of average size and has a cozy feel to it. I am thinking about bookcases and trying to figure out how to arrange the room so that there is some division without making it crowded…

Eek! I am so excited… I’m browsing IKEA’s website, wondering if a small sofa will fit in the classroom, thinking about the possibility of buying my own projector, watching clips of Olympics-fan Bush on the Daily Show….


There is only one video in all of YouTube that is up to the task of expressing my glee. Presenting, in all 9:33 minutes of glory – each and every second full of awesome – the NerdFighters/Brotherhood 2.0 Happy Dance Project. (If the embedded video doesn’t work, just click the HDP link.)


August 12, 2008 at 11:45 pm 4 comments

Furious. >:(

It occurred to me that it was the second week of June – not that extraordinary an occurrence, except that I was supposed to have heard back from Suburban School District the third week of May about my screening interview. And I never did.

Meanwhile, all of the Suburban School District jobs are drying up.

So I spent half my lunch break today on the phone with their HR department. (The other half I spent playing IT professional for our slapdash English department here at the summer school – I had wanted to call the jr. high principal back and thank her, but didn’t have time.)

I told the HR gal – the same one I complained about earlier – that I was supposed to have heard from them almost a month ago and had not. She looked through her files and…. anyone wanna guess what she said?

“We don’t have anything from you on file.”

“Uhm,” I replied, “when I called before – in May – I was concerned that my materials had been lost in the mail, so I had you look for them. At that time you told me that you had them in front of you.”

HR Lady made a noise like she thought I was hallucinating and shuffled some papers. She asked what I was endorsed in, asked for my name again. Then: “Oh, are you [Mrs. Bees]? I have your materials here. They haven’t been processed yet.”

Steam proceeds to build behind my ears.

“Yeah, it looks like I just reviewed them… yesterday… We haven’t processed it into a folder yet….”

I held myself in check. “I was told they would have been reviewed and processed three weeks ago.”

“Ha ha, yeah, that was probably wishful thinking on my part if I told you that they would be evaluated in a week.”

I responded with what I hoped would translate over the phone as a very pointed silence. Pretty damn poor time estimation, if you ask me. Thinking something will take a week when it will really take four?

“This time of year, you know…” she continued.

I’m thinking to myself, I applied to Urban School District at the exact same time, and have already been screened and narrowly rejected for an actual job. And you haven’t even put my application in a FOLDER yet??

She went on. “Well, I’ll go ahead and… I guess I can go ahead and schedule you for the screening interview now though. Can you…. can you come in Monday?”

“Well, I’m teaching summer school,” I replied. “I’m teaching from 8-4. In [Urban Area].”

“Oh well, we don’t have any afternoon interviews at all.”

My blood boiling, I asked if they had lunchtime interviews. She said they did and that the interview lasted 30 minutes, and that their latest interview was at 11:30. I looked at the bell schedule; I have lunch from 11:45-12:15, and the Suburban District office is about a 30-minute drive from summer school. I would need to miss an hour of teaching. If we have to miss, we have to find our own substitute; I have no idea how they get paid or anything, and we don’t have a contact list. We just have to “know” someone who is on file with the district who can handle a summer school session. Mr. Bees has offered to sub for me but isn’t available until the afternoon.

How am I even supposed to arrange for a sub that I magically find in the next three hours so that I can call her back and schedule an interview that was supposed to happen a month ago?

I am RAGING pissed, not to put too fine a point on it. This is just inexcusable – what kind of professional practices are these? It’s pretty clear to me, from the tone of HR Lady’s voice and the responses I’m getting, that this isn’t a case of being overwhelmed. It’s a case of not doing her job. There is no earthly reason that my application should not even be in a folder yet. There is no earthly way that they have THAT many applications. This is NOT a major metropolitan area, nor is it an area to which many educators are trying to move.

And it’s not like I can complain, because to whom does one complain about HR? And if I complain, or even indicate that I’m displeased, I’ll never get a job there. Of course, maybe that would be for the best! If this were a corporate environment there would be heads rolling.

June 13, 2008 at 4:54 pm 2 comments

Pomp, Circumstance, and Two Districts

I was invited to attend CHS’s graduation, as a teacher, which meant that I got to promenade ahead of the graduates and sit on the floor for the ceremony. Although I taught sophomores, I had gotten to know several seniors through their relationship with my mentor and was happy to witness their big day.

No graduation ceremony is very interesting – including, in my experience, one’s own graduation ceremony(s) – but I enjoyed the new perspective on the occasion. Someone mentioned to me that I must be especially dedicated (her comment had a perhaps imagined undertone of “are you trying to suck up?”) but the fact of the matter is that I honestly think it these moments are so important for young people – and it seems important to me to share in that. Goodness knows that the high school diploma no longer holds the value it once did, and it seems to me that a kid has to go out of his/her way to not make it to graduation; regardless, this is the one rite of passage remaining for American youth, and one shouldn’t underestimate the potency of these rites.

The following week I went with Mr. Bees to CeHS’s graduation, which we attended as regular guests. Unlike me, Mr. Bees has been teaching seniors and has developed relationships with about 150 of them. It was heartwarming to stand by him as one after another gowned senior approached him afterwards with warm exclamations and the occasional declaration of gratitude.

I went to high school in Suburban School District, although not at CeHS, and their version of the graduation ceremony was more like my own than CHS’s. At CHS’s graduation ceremony I had been gratified to find that the people had apparently “grown up” a bit since my own walk across the stage. There was very little showboating on the stage, no inappropriate footwear, appropriate levels of respect paid to speakers, and only two airhorn blasts. From where I sat, it appeared that the vast majority of the audience stayed in their seats for the entirety of the ceremony. While some students received uproarious applause from their large families, there was no one who didn’t receive a round of applause. Every teacher seat was taken.

Then I went to CeHS’s graduation and discovered that things hadn’t changed so much after all. The national anthem and superintendent speech were drowned out by audience members bellowing their graduates’ names. Airhorn blasts punctuated the role call at regular intervals, deafening the unfortunate spectators in front of them. After every name was announced, another group of spectators stood up and walked out of the arena. At least two graduates were wearing the kind of light-up plastic heels more traditionally seen at strip clubs, and there were a startling number of male graduates sporting bare legs and dirty tennis shoes. At least half of the seats in the teacher section were empty.

Urban School District (CHS’s district) and Suburban School District (CeHS’s district) are separated by few enough miles that children who grew up on the other side of my street attended the other district. They both have high-quality schools and teachers and a lot of community support. Personally, I would be quite happy to work for either district – I think that they both have significant strengths and comparable weaknesses. And yet, they are miles apart in many fundamental ways. There is something intangible there that made their two graduation ceremonies vastly different. The first felt sacred, important. The second felt like I must have missed the kegs on the way in. I am not at all sure what is going on there.

June 4, 2008 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Thwarted Progress

I mailed my application materials to the Suburban School District last week – a little later than I’d intended, but I was waiting on my recommendation letters to come through. Having still heard nothing about a screening interview, I decided to call today and make sure I had done everything I needed to do. En route to looking up their phone number, I discovered that three new jobs had been posted. Three English teaching jobs. AT MY DREAM SCHOOL.

(Okay, I don’t know that it is my dream school just yet, because it doesn’t exist yet. But I am SO excited about the prospect of helping to start up a brand new school…)

Anyway, so I called the district office. First she told me that I would receive an email when it was time to set up the screening interview. Then, flipping through her papers, she told me that they had no application from me. I protested, and she told me that there was a whole stack that had arrived earlier this week that she hadn’t even gotten to yet. She told me that once she got to it – assuming it was there – that it would be a week before she made a file for it, and then three weeks before I would be able to get in for a screening interview.

WTH? Seriously? Three weeks? Make that FOUR weeks?

She told me that it was very busy this time of year (really?) and of course I understand, but couldn’t they hire a temp or something to help with the filing? Cut at least one week off of the processing time? By the time they get to my application, check it, make a file for it, and find a time for me to come in and screen, the jobs at Dream School will have been long since filled. 😦

My prospects of a job are MUCH better in the Suburban School District than they are in Urban School District, so this is a disappointing development. I suppose I have no one to blame but myself; I should have leaned on my letter-writers a bit more, maybe started the whole process earlier. Oh well. It will all work out in the end, right? Right.

May 21, 2008 at 11:38 am 4 comments

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.