A friend of mine texted me the other day to ask what the interview process for my new job had been like. I answered that it had been pretty standard pedagogical fare. On further reflection, I realized that it was the longest interview process I have ever gone through. That is really saying something when you consider my past interview experiences.
In Dallas I went through four different interviews for the same position. First the Principal. Then back for the VP. Then back to meet with three teachers. Finally I had a week long probationary period in the classroom before I was offered a contract. It took three months from beginning to end.
In one of my schools in Arkansas my first interview reached into the hours. Plural. Three! I’m usually happy if an interview stretches to the 45 minute range, but that Principal was notorious for long interviews. Then I came back to meet the VP and that one reached into the hours again. I will say that both of those meetings were pleasant and low stress. Mostly conversational. I was not offered the job at first. So much for easy conversation.
But taken as a whole, this current interview process has to be viewed as a full school year. I came to this district with no prospects because nothing was open in this small city and I was behind every other teacher in the many village schools in seniority. So I signed up to sub. Just regular subbing, hourly pay. By the third day of school I was working. I spent the first two months of school working everyday in lower elementary. I did everything from teaching K – 2 to ladling out lunch to showing kids how to brush their teeth.
Soon I was hired to do long-term subbing for a pregnant high school art teacher. I went through my first real interview for the district at that point. For nine weeks I took over all kinds of art classes from 8th through 12th. I planned lessons and taught techniques and graded. It was fun. I had to be super organized because the teacher I was taking over for was and I didn’t want to ruin it for her. Also, I wanted to impress the high school so they would hire me at some future point. Duh.
On the last day of that job the Principal from the upper elementary school came and asked me if I would take over a Special Education Interventionist position for 3rd through 6th grade. This was still considered long-term substitute teaching because I don’t have a SpEd license. I have been the teacher of this class all semester, blindly making my way between different grade levels and subjects and needs. It has been eye opening to say the least. While I feel a daily frustration at doing a job I don’t feel particularly good at, I am happy in the environment. It’s a lovely school filled with caring co-workers.
The only real downside to all this was that I felt slightly more pressure to be on top of my game all the time. Sometimes you just want to have a bad day or an off day or whatever. This is such a tiny community that everyone knew I was around and seeking work. EVERYONE! This was a great benefit and a small burden at times. I was thrilled to be sought out for new opportunities but embarrassed to have to tell genuinely caring semi-strangers at the gym that I did not yet have a job lined up for next year. You can’t even be off outside of work in such a small town. You want to get frustrated at something at, say, the grocery store and maybe drop a muttered curse word and roll your eyes? Not advisable. Everyone is connected to someone important to your prospects.
Anyway, I suppose looking at the whole time as an interview process worked out okay. I made a few allies along the way that were definitely looking out for me and pointing me in the right direction. This was why it was such a great benefit that EVERYONE knew what I was looking for and what I was capable of doing. So now I am going to be the Social Studies Distance Education teacher for the district next year. I will have to teach over video! Live video!! From a studio!!! To districts too small to support full-time Social Studies teachers. Things are about to get…interesting.
****Setting aside long interviews and allies and all that for a moment, the most important thing you can have going for you in Bethel is already being here. It means they don’t have to pay you to relocate. It ALSO means that you have seen Bethel and not run screaming. I know that sounds like a joke but at just shy of a year here, Sergio and I have outlasted a number of people already. It is not unheard of that people that get hired in winter, or to village jobs especially, fly in, take a look around, and fly right back out the same day. It can be that startling for people. So if you are somebody that is moving here with a spouse and hoping for a job, just getting here and showing some staying power will be your biggest asset.****