Wednesday, October 28, 2009


My interviews to get this job were a life time ago it seems. The first one was with a panel of 5 guys (who I now know to be principals and members of the current English department) They took turns asking the perfunctory questions like "how would you describe the environment you will create in your classroom?" and "what is the last book you read?"...things that any teacher can come up with off the top of their head. I was charming, I was witty, I was able to communicate in full sentences. I looked them in the eye, had a firm handshake, and made them laugh. I was a success!

Then came the second interview, with the executive principal, the super, and the asst. super...... we sat in a small room in the district office. They were all wearing suits, mine was wrinkled. There were 3 candidates that had been called back for an interview. I was sweating. I'm sure I smelled.

They looked at me for what seemed like an eternity before they spoke. I was 24. Never had a real, big girl job. Had subbed for ages after I received my masters degree, I was wet behind the ears. I was feeling really inferior. Then the super started talking, and I think I didn't pay attention to a single word he said.

"There aren't any formal questions for this interview." He said, (or something like that) "Instead we just want you to begin talking about what you think we should know about you and your teaching experience, ideas, lesson planning. Whatever you think you want us to know."

I sat there. The clock ticked.

"Umm..." I said. Gosh I was smart and well spoken. Pull yourself together I told myself over and over and over. I sucked.

I looked pleadingly at the Executive principal who looked the friendliest. Help me.

Finally after 27 minutes of silence someone asked a question. I began to babble. Something about a kid at the school I subbed at that no one liked, but I did. (great now they think you're strange), on to something about how the teachers I worked with were really unprofessional, (super job, they are probably related to someone there). I talked about how I believed that we should inspire kids to read by reading ourselves. I blabbed on about some lesson I taught on grammar with an orange. (WHO CARES?) and I prayed. Hard. God, help me to at least formulate cohesive thoughts.

They looked at each other. They looked at me. No one said anything. They did not smile. They showed no mercy. They asked no questions. I am such a failure, I thought. Then, SHIT did I say that out loud? No. Good. Is it over yet?

They shook my hand and escorted me to the door. I breathed for the first time in an hour. The second candidate was waiting in a chair by the door. Older than me. Briefcase in hand. Black suit, no wrinkles, and heels that she could walk in without tripping. She was polished, and didn't smell like BO. "How was it?" She smiled sweetly. I wanted to punch her in her perfectly make-upped face. "Piece of cake! Soooo easy! " I gushed. "Good Luck!" Secretly hoping that my cavalier manner would make her panic.

I made it from the door to my car before the tears started. Did I not want this job? Why didn't I try harder? Did God hate me? Why was I such a disaster? Why could I think of nothing intelligent to say? I cried the whole way home. Which took 32 minutes. I had never had such a horrible interview. I was a passionate, idealistic person. I really wanted to make a difference and to TEACH! Why could I not get that point across at an interview. I had had a total of 12 interviews this summer. 15 last summer and all I could land was a long-term subbing gig. Why could no one see my potential? Why couldn't I show people all I had to offer? Why do I suck at life?

...I got the job (obviously as I am teaching now, duh). They called back within 2 days. Here's the kicker: Why after 2 months am I again feeling all those same insecurities? How do I reach these kids? Why do they resist me so much? What am I doing wrong? Why can't I show them that I care and that they can be successful? Why am I not the world's greatest teacher that I so want to be?


Sarah Ebner said...

I thought this was such a great post; thank you for sharing it. Your experience sounds like a nightmare, and yet....they saw something in you. So, maybe you were too hard on yourself then and are still being too hard on yourself now? I'm sure you're a terrific teacher.
I also think that it's great to aspire to being the best, for yourself and the kids you teach, but imagine if we achieved all our aspirations immediately. I'm not sure that would be good, for anyone.
Good luck with it all. And I'm so glad I found your blog (via the new Carnival!)

Darren said...

Keep at it. I'm sure I'm not the first to tell you that you *will* get better with time. I wish I could tell you something that would take away the suck right now, but teaching is one of those "delayed reward" activities.

teachin' said...

We all have those days when nothing seems to work, when you can't understand why they're not responding, when you just want to sit down on the floor in the middle of the room and cry (okay, maybe that last one's just me and just today).

Remember that you were hired for a reason, that you're good at what you do, and that the fact that you're even asking these questions means that you're reaching a whole lot more kids than you probably even know.

It gets better. Some days are bad, but it gets better.