Sunday, April 22, 2007

Job Interviews

I had an interview in a middle school in Brooklyn on Friday afternoon. It lasted a long time - close to two and a half hours - although a good part of that time was my sitting around waiting while interviewers ran about taking care of administrative duties. I feel that nearly each bullet point on my resume was discussed, and I wasn't given the chance to ask any questions, but I must have given enough of a good impression because I was asked to come back to give a demo lesson. I e-mailed the assistant principal on Friday evening with the dates and times I'd be available to come back; my schedule is a bit messy the next couple of weeks. I was asked to come in on Monday for the aforementioned demo lesson, but truth be told, I need more time than that. I told her so, and I suspect that worked against me, but during the rest of the interview she seemed to value my being upfront with her about what I did or did not know, so I'm hoping the honesty will win out.

I have an interview at a middle school next Tuesday, and another the Friday after that. I'm rather pleased that I have so much lined up. I ran into a former classmate this past week, and she'd only been invited in to one school to give a demo lesson.

I've applied to a lot of schools here on Long Island, and if I've received any responses at all, it's been in the form of a notification, via postcard received through the mail, which served a receipt of my received resume. Not exactly encouraging.

Aside from the apparent lack of local interest (and the realism in wanting to work in a school whose schedule and proximity would not cause me to be consistently late for classes next semester), I wasn't too impressed with the schools here on Long Island. Certainly the teachers are paid a lot more; the students tend to do better overall and have families who are more involved; there is less poverty and all that comes with that. But the schools that I tended to enjoy more, even in my field experience and student teaching, were the so-called "high needs" schools. The students were rougher, but were those teachers in charge. But because these are rougher schools, with students who get lower test scores, and the worst pay in the state, there is a higher turnover of teachers. (Of course, the high school in which I student taught was just a badly run school; the school where I was interviewed on Friday seemed very different, with good faculty, and the students were lovely.)

I was asked twice on Friday why I didn't look for jobs in Long Island; I was told that students in this age group (i.e., grades six through nine) are more difficult - which is true - and that the the pay isn't as good as it is for Long Island teachers - which is also true. But I have yet to meet anyone who goes into teaching for the money, and I'm more attracted to the students who put up a fight. There is a minimum pay scale for teachers that I know I could survive on well enough.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Lovely Easter

I went to the Easter Vigil last night - nearly three hours of intense church, full of excitement when I walked into church, a feeling I don't normally encounter when I go to Mass. It was a really nice service - we have (what I think is) a good choir at St. Barnabas, and two soloists in particular who have just lovely voices that blend together beautifully. Aside from the choir, organist, and soloists, we had a flutist, a trumpeter, and a timpanist. And it made me...happy; the very long Mass (nearly three hours!) ended in Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus." A very good way to spend my evening, as far as I was concerned.

I had made reservations for Chris and myself for lunch today at the PlattDuetsche Park Restaurant, where we had some very good German food: Hungarian mushroom soup and smoked trout with creamed horseradish to start; Chris ordered Wiener Schnitzel with a side of Spaetzle and a side of sauerkraut; I ordered braised beef Rouladen, which came with dumplings and red cabbage. For dessert, Chris ordered the apple strudel, while I got the chocolate mousse cake. Definitely a place to go back to - I think we were both surprised at how good our meal was.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Holy Week & Easter

Way back when, I had decided I was going to remake myself. It didn't take, partly because I was trying to do too much at once. I've started again, with something that's been on my mind the most: I've been questioning my religious beliefs for the past year; I've been feeling as though I'm losing my spirituality. It's been a bit of an internal struggle but I believe I'm getting myself back to where I'd like to be in that regard. I'd had some questioning of the Church's policies, and questioned what to do when my conscience was telling me something different from the Church's teachings; I was also concerned about what to do when I disagreed with Catholic dogma.

This week being Holy Week, I decided to try to fix my questioning. It's been some time since I'd gone to Confession, so I went this past week and talked to a priest, who was able to offer some helpful advice. I also went to Holy Thursday Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Night Prayer on Thursday night, to the outdoor Stations of the Cross on Friday, and to the Good Friday Mass yesterday afternoon. I went to part of a prayer service last night also. Tonight is the Easter Vigil Mass, which is one of my favorite services, which I'll attend also. (This time last year Chris and I were in London, and I had gone to the Westminster Cathedral Easter Vigil, which was mind-blowing, it was so lovely.)

I've begun to feel better about my beliefs again, although I'll have to put more effort forth and not just go to Mass because it's obligatory. I think I just need to find ways to get involved within the parish, which has been difficult while being at school since my schedule changes each semester, and often in the evenings I'll have classes. Something could be worked out, though. I was more sure of myself when I was more involved.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Graduate School

Last week I got a phone call from a graduate advisor at Long Island University in Brooklyn, offering me admittance to their M.A. program in English (and the Teaching of Writing concentration); I was told me about a potential teaching assistantship in which she thought I might be interested. I made an appointment with the advisor who set me up with three classes: English 509 (Sociolinguistics and the Teaching of Writing); English 626 (African American Short Fiction); and English 646 (Individual & Small Group Instruction). I'm pretty interested in each of these classes; they sound interesting and I'm a bit excited at the prospect of taking higher-level English literature and writing classes.

I also dropped in on with Ann, the Associate Director of the LIU Writing Center, who would have a say as to whether I would get the teaching assistantship - part of the deal would be that in exchange for two of my classes being paid for by LIU, I would receive a stipend for working ten hours a week in their Writing Center.

Despite some hoop-jumping at the Registrar's Office due to new-student issues, I managed to enroll in my desired classes such that upon graduation in May I will be a full-time graduate student. And by the time I got home Marilyn had sent me an e-mail telling me that I had gotten the teaching assistantship. Not a bad day, actually.