Djcnor’s Weblog

Substitute Teacher Interview

Posted on: March 6, 2009

Every time I post on my job search, the number of clicks I get falls right down to near zero, so I guess I get the message that nobody likes reading about it.

None the less, to paraphrase an old song, it’s my blog and I’ll bore if I want to, bore if I want to, bore if I want to.

I’m now beginning to make short lists. I guess that’s a good thing even though “We’re going to go with someone else,” delivered face-to-face or by a non-generic letter feels even a bit worse than those lovely “thank you, %&*£ you” letters when you’ve gotten your hopes up.

The worst was on Tuesday. It was for a “cover supervisor” position, which is sort of an in-house substitute teacher for a school. They short-listed five of us, calling us in on the same day and putting us through a 5-hour “carousel”, as they called it, of activities.

We met with the school head first. I should have taken a cue from his seeming to be all about discipline, but it was a school with an arts concentration. He told us three out of the five would be hired. Good odds, right?

Then, through the rest of the time, one of us would be facing a cover supervisor and the cover supervisor supervisor, one would be facing a panel of students, and one would be thrown into a class for a half hour. The others would be sitting together waiting to be called up.

I had the cover supervisor interview first. I thought it went pretty well. I asked some good questions and felt like I’d answered theirs well, too.

Then I had the student panel. That went very well. They asked what I had to offer that was extra, and I mentioned several things, in particular my costuming and my writing, including my involvement with NaNoWriMo, which many schools participate in as well.

Then I had the classroom. That’s where things went wrong, I guess. The student leading me there said he was running late and should have had me there earlier. When I came in, the kids’ usual teacher had already given them a handout of questions to answer. The subject was ASBOs, which, for non-Brits, is a restriction handed out teens, usually, for anti-social behavior. One look at the class told me that they were not troublemakers. There were a couple of boy jokesters in the back, but certainly nothing compared to the characters I had encountered teaching in Brooklyn for three weeks without books.

I would have liked to have handled the question sheet differently, but since it had already been handed out, it didn’t seem right to take them back up again, and not let them write the answers as they’d already been told. So I circulated the room, keeping kids busy on subject, answering questions, and suggesting improvements in English and spelling and such. The kids talked a bit amongst themselves, consulting with each other, but I didn’t see that as a problem. It was not a test, and they were on the subject. Then near the end of my half hour, I had them stop and held a discussion on the last question, which was opinion oriented.

They had told us that after these would come a more serious interview with some higher ups, but instead, they announced that they were dismissing two of us before that stage. We were out.

By that time, we candidates had learned a good deal about each other. One woman, a very no-nonsense type, no fun evident in her, seemed to already know the school and lots of folks in it. I knew she’d be hired. Another was an experienced sub, looking for a steady gig. I was pretty sure she’d be going through, too.

The two others besides me were a posh young thing, a product of boarding school, presently doing some part time teaching at a prison and working with horses for a company that provides carriages for weddings and movies and such, and another young thing working at the tax office. It wasn’t clear what her teaching credentials were.

And me, with my tutoring, and all my classroom experience having happened in the US relatively long ago.

Can you guess? They took the posh young thing with prison classroom experience.

They had a debriefing and evaluation for each of us rejects. I was told the kids really liked me a lot, but the grown-ups were worried about how I’d handle a more boistrous classroom. Very differently, of course, but it was too late for that. They said I’d be perfect for a one-on-one or small group situation and to please apply if I ever saw them offering one.

And I was left finding my way to the bus stop, facing the hour bus-ride/walk home, feeling the sting of the cost of the taxi to get there on time (Miss Posh had been late.), and doing the classroom bit over and over again in my mind, which I also did that night when I needed to get to sleep, and last night as well. Couldn’t seem to help it.

Even at the bus stop, I already knew that I would have given the kids a 10-minute time limit on writing answers to the questions and proceeded to the discussion, or perhaps just said that instead of writng the answers individually, we would discuss, writing the answers on the board as they were offered by the kids. Too late for that, too.

So I’m sensing that I’m going to have trouble getting any classroom experience (that is, being hired for a role handling a classroom) without having had some already, and that if I am to be hired for such, I’ll need to operate in a classroom much more restrictively than is really my style of teaching.

Dang it.

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Djcnor’s Weblog

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