Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I got two phone calls this morning, both from high schools wanting to schedule interviews. One representative from a high school in Manhattan asked me to come in this afternoon. A secretary from the high school located in Brooklyn had me schedule an interview for tomorrow afternoon. I went in for my interview this afternoon (and learned that this particular school may or may not need a teacher but wouldn't know until after the school year will begin next week), and when I came back I had a voicemail from the lady from the high school in Brooklyn telling me that the position had already been filled. It took less than five hours to get that message. I'm actually bit glad since it's frustrating going on interviews from which you never get job offers; nevertheless...!

It seems to be a really hectic time for everyone; decisions have to be made quickly. I wonder if I'm just putting something out there that makes me distinctly not worth hiring. At this point I can say I've gone to every interview offered, and I haven't had one single job offer, so there's not much I can really do at this point other than hope a school gets desperate and offers me a position.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Enough With The Interviews Already!

Hopefully this will be the last post concerning interviews - I'm tired of interviews pervading my thoughts.

I did not get the job in Manhattan (e.g., the job teaching for two months in the very small college); I sent my interviewer an e-mail and left him a voicemail; finally, not being able to take not knowing what was going on, I called him directly this afternoon. Apparently there is no need for any more English teachers - this term. I was invited to come back to give a demo lesson late next week but explained my situation in my uncertainty how my other interviews would reconcile themselves and promised to be in touch shortly once I know my availability.

I'm unsure of having gotten the job for which I interviewed yesterday, insofar as I have not heard anything. If their administration were interested in hiring me, I'm presuming I would have received a phone call to schedule the next part of the process - meeting with the principal.

Which is the next step for the position for which I interviewed this morning. The schools open the Wednesday after Labor Day here, so I know those who interviewed me will have to act quickly. I was told that if I had been chosen to move on to meeting the principal (after which I'd meet the superintendent), I'd receive a phone call by this afternoon or tomorrow.

Most teachers know what classes they'll be teaching and will have had much more ti me to plan their curriculum. It's unnerving not knowing what to plan or not even knowing how much time I'll have to plan it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wide Awake

I had an interview Monday morning first thing at a diocesan high school in West Islip. I think it went well - I hope it went well - it seemed to go well, but I can't quite read it. I was asked some good questions (How did I wind up student teaching in New York City? How did I teach writing at the Writing Center?), which meant I could comfortably talk about a few topics about which I had opinions. It would be a nice job to get; the pay would be comparably low, even for a teaching job, but I'd have support of the administration, and for the first time I got a genuinely good feeling about the school while sitting in the main office. It was a school I'd honestly like to be part of.

I have another interview later this morning, a leave replacement position that would offer employment at least until January, with the possibility of an extension until June. I compiled a portfolio which includes my sample lesson plans from my tenure as a student teacher and will be bringing that in tomorrow. This hadn't occurred to me before, although I suppose it would have been helpful to have.

Classes start all around next week: The school districts' first day is September 5th, with LIU classes beginning on September 6th. It's getting close to the wire for the schools still doing the hiring, and I'm sure they'd like to know who'll be working there just as much as the potential teachers would like to know where they'll be working. I was laying in bed for awhile tonight, planning my first day as a teacher, but I didn't know where I would belong - in a high school, at the accelerated program school that has yet to indicate if I should go in for a demo lesson... or nowhere at all. I'll need as much time as possible to plan what I'll be doing the first weeks of school and I wish someone would just make a decision.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

God's Warriors

Last week CNN aired a trilogy called CNN Presents: God's Warriors, and, thinking that this sounded interesting, I TiVoed the series. I'm currently making my way through the first in the series - God's Jewish Warriors (the other two parts of the series being God's Muslim Warriors and God's Christian Warriors) - but it's slow going because each episode is two hours long. I'm really interested in religious history, and while I'm not political, I am interested in the relationship between religion and politics.

So far, at least, it's been very interesting because the host, Christina Amanpour, had researched the effects of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity on Israel and the world at large. I'm only about 45 minutes into God's Jewish Warriors, but I had a small epiphany while watching: Everyone is so sure that God is on his or her side, but I wonder if God isn't taking sides, if He is just trying to teach us kindness and how to maintain peace, that there is more than one way to teach such things. I do not believe that my life as a Catholic means that God is any more on my side than He is on the side of a Muslim or Jew, or on the side of anyone else claiming religious certainty. Perhaps organized religion grew out of cultural, geographic, and historical circumstances such that a people in a certain part of the world received God's Word at a time when a certain set of religious dogma was culturally sensible to a large portion of the population. Certainly Christianity 2,000 years ago wasn't conducive to gender equality - arguably the Middle East even now isn't entirely conducive to such radical thoughts; yet there was a distinct need for religious growth that evolved in turn into Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, and that there was a need to start teaching kindness, tolerance, and love, and to start the (excruciatingly) slow process of equality among everyone despite gender or culture. Similarly, I've noticed that disagreement over a given country's policies have begun to cause that person to be branded anti-fill-in-the-blank. Do you think Bush is doing nothing but causing severe problems? Anti-American! Siding with the Israelis? Anti-Semitic! Or at least misinformed on both counts.

(As a side note, one of the practices of Catholicism I've been struggling with over the course of the past year or two is the Catholic church's stance on women in the priesthood. I believe it was either John Paul II or Benedict XVI who argued that because Jesus' Apostles were men, because Jesus did not ordain women, no woman now can be ordained a priest. (I wish I could find the specific source of who said that; I remember having come across it some time back.) So far as I know there is no specific place in the Bible that disallows the priestly ordination of women. I suspect that at 2,000 years ago in that part of the world women were hardly seen as equal, and there would have been trouble for any woman seen evangelizing and proselytizing.)

I know there are people who think that religion is the root cause of all the world's evil, but this is not a line of discussion I'm likely to want to pursue. I'm just now finding the means to express the specific challenges I'm facing in my own internal religious struggle and this particular epiphany led me to a way to verbalize it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Volunteering & Work

When I moved to Long Island, I registered at the local Catholic church. On the registration form there were boxes next to a couple different volunteering opportunities that you could check if you were interested. On impulse, and without really thinking about it, I checked the box next to "catechist." I was surprised when I got a call to ask if I would teach a first grade class that didn't yet have a teacher. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would - I have never been quite sure how to just jump in and start talking to younger kids but I grew to really enjoy the kids I taught. The next year I volunteered to teach two classes, a second grade class (the first-grade kids I had taught the previous year) and a fifth grade class.

After that year, though, it was time to move on. I moved further east to be closer to college. I moved around quite a bit the next couple of years and because my schedule kept changing, I didn't really feel comfortable trying to find any volunteering activities because I didn't have a stable schedule.

I've been living in Bellmore, though, since last summer, and it looks like I'll be here for a little while as I establish myself, so over the summer I called up the church I've been attending (and had registered at when I moved here) and got information in regards to becoming involved as a Eucharistic Minister. I went to the training before I went to Ireland, and since I've been back I've been involved in a few Masses. It's easy work; I wind up only doing on average two Masses a month, maybe three, and that's that.

I'd still like to be more involved, but I'm not sure how I can manage. Until the employment situation pans out and I know what I'll be doing, I can't plan to take part in anything that meets during the week. Depending on the job I get offered - if I get offered anything - I'll be bouncing back and forth between that job (which might just be substitute teaching); tutoring the required 10 hours I need to keep my teaching assistantship, at the LIU Writing Center; and tutoring for CLC. The day job I get will affect which hours I tutor at the Writing Center, which in turn will affect which hours I will be available for CLC, which will affect the remaining free time I could give to volunteering. I'd like to volunteer for the St. Barnabas Rosary Society, which only meets once a month in the evening, but I'm not sure I'll be free Monday evenings; or the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, but I'd really not be able to give them much time at all. I'd like not to have to go into the city on the weekends. I'm willing to go in five days a week, but I'll be running around so much as it is that I may just have to drop my gig at CLC - especially if I get a teaching job or if I'm subbing.

If I weren't registered for three classes, this would be a lot easier. I had to make the decision as to what I wanted to put first in all of this, and I put grad school ahead of everything else, figuring that a teaching job may or may not be in the cards right now, and I needed something to make myself feel like I was pushing myself ahead. It's now one week before the 2007-2008 academic year starts, and I dislike not knowing how I'll afford to feed myself.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Interviews & A Camp Party

I went on what I think was a very good interview yesterday - a part-time teaching position at a two-year college in midtown Manhattan. (I don't want to name names unless I get a job offer.) The position would most likely entail my teaching a Writing 101 type of class: Composition exercises, and things like that. There are other positions for which I would be qualified, but those are already filled - literature, etc., types of classes, although there aren't too many of those types of classes because of the nature of this particular school; they offer Associates degrees, as well as certificates and diplomas, in business, health care, and technology.

The fellow who interviewed me, the newly-hired Director of Education, told me flat out that he liked me, and he seemed to want me to hire me; but I won't hear anything until tomorrow at the latest, at which point I might be invited back to give a five-minute demo lesson to demonstrate my classroom presence. I'm keeping my fingers crossed; even though this particular school does eight-week terms, and there would be no guarantee of any open positions beyond this first term, it would be a chance to get my feet wet and I would have had an "in" somewhere and can thereby put on my resume that I have classroom teaching experience.

Last night was the Coleman Country Day Camp summer-end staff party. Since Chris officially resigned (effective the last day of camp, which was earlier this week), it was our last CCDC party shindig. While the timing of quitting a job is never really "good," I suppose, this was a comparatively better time since I feel that now that I'm in a position of finding a "real job" (if only someone would hire me), I'm in the position of stepping up and supporting both of us, although my understanding is that Chris has some freelance work lined up, at least in the short term.

The camp has been changing, also, from what I've been told (and deduced), so yet another reason I'm glad Chris is out of there (aside from it being an unpleasant to work); we gave the program director a ride home last night and that point was pretty much driven home in that he may or may not be staying at CCDC (and he's been there since the camp's inception in 1982) because of the changes that have been occurring. The person they hired to replace me after I was fired also left, apparently at the beginning of summer. (To my understanding they never had really hired someone full-time after I left; the girl who replaced me went off to Camp Echo in the summer.)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Proof Is In The Pudding

I received two very nice documents in the mail this summer. one before I left for Ireland, and the other just this past week.

Aren't they pretty?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Interviews & Job Searching

More job-related goings-on:
  • The principal who interviewed me on Monday did not, in fact, call me back on Tuesday to offer me a job. This was not a surprise, and I am not entirely sure I would have accepted a job had one been offered. As much emphasis is placed on new teachers being professional, there was a distinct lack of professionalism from this particular principal.
  • I did get offered the tutoring position for which I had applied and had an interview on Tuesday. For at least a part-time gig I'm relieved that I have something to do, even I choose not to work on weekends, and I wanted to work on weekends, I could schedule that.
  • I'm in the process of putting together my substitute teaching application packet; Harry and Jody have both kindly agreed to fill out reference forms, which I stuck in the mail and am waiting for them to mail back to me. And on Monday I'm going to the doctor to get a TB test, which is another requirement.
  • Last week I filled out an online application at a substitute teacher placement web site; today I got a call to come in and fill out the paperwork, so I'll go in next week to do that. Apparently this particular company places substitute teachers into private and charter schools in each of the boroughs except Staten Island, as opposed to the subbing application I'm compiling now for the New York City Department of Ed., which as far as I know doesn't make the distinction.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Trying To Find Work

I had an interview this morning at a high school in lower Manhattan; Jade came with me and sat outside the school in which I was interviewed because we had decided to go to the New York City Department of Education in Brooklyn to inquire about any possible open positions - neither one of us were hearing anything and have been starting to feel desperate for work.

The day started badly; the principal with whom I had scheduled the interview had advised me that I should call his office (he provided the phone number) because the school is locked for the summer. After arriving at the school, I called a number of times only never to have my phone calls answered. After having spent about 10 or 15 minutes calling, someone finally answered the phone and transferred me to the principal who said he had just left being downstairs but would send someone down. I sat in his office until 11:30 (the interview had been scheduled for 11); he called me in, asked me a couple questions and asked me if I had any for him (which I did, albeit I focused on the curriculum); I asked how many positions were available (there was just one), and what the next step was (he was interviewing the rest of today and tomorrow, and would make his decision tomorrow; if I didn't hear from him I could assume that I was not being offered the job). The total interview time was about 12 minutes. I don't expect to hear from him.

Jade and I then went way uptown to meet Vhary for lunch, which was lovely; and then Jade and I went to Brooklyn to the Department of Education. We stood in line to ask about possible employment but instead were told that we should apply online, that we would be contacted if anything was available. It was at this point it dawned on me that the alleged severe teacher shortage that New York City is encountering might not be as dire as is made out to be. I inquired about the possibility of substituting, which I would actually prefer; obviously the salary is smaller but I can survive well on it temporarily, and at this point I still need a flexible schedule to offset my graduate classes and working at the LIU Writing Center.

However, the lady at the D.O.E. (who was very nice) advised me to go to room 403 (the subbing department, in essence) in inquire about the process; I went to room 403 only to be told to go to room 408, and then to room 503, at which point an employee who was marginally helpful told me to go back room 403. I realized I needed to be very blunt with what I wanted, at which point the woman with from whom I had initially requested information in room 403 told me I had asked her for information that I hadn't, which is why she sent me to another department.

In the midst of all this floor-hopping, in the elevator, Jade, who was not really listening in on the conversations I was having, asked where we were going; I told her in no uncertain terms that I was going back to the original room to which we had been sent to tell them quite professionally what I thought of them; standing back in the original line she and I had stood in when we had gotten to the D.O.E., a gentleman approached me and said he couldn't help but overhear what I had said in the elevator, and had I been helped to my satisfaction, and had I gotten the right forms? That almost made the whole trip worthwhile.

Tomorrow I have an interview at a tutoring place that theoretically allows its employees to tutor for up to 40 hours a week. And this evening I also got an e-mail from a principal in the Bronx who wants me to come in with a drawing of my ideal classroom and a list of resources and supports I would need to support such a practice. I'm excited by this prospect, and interested in such planning, and a bit afraid, too.

But I have to admit that after today, I'm just feeling a bit dejected.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Problem Solved

The very nice and helpful fellow who sent me the forms to complete for my New York State teaching certificate I think sent me the wrong forms, which I received yesterday. It's only a hunch, but I deduced this while I was filling out the form, got to a box that strategically asked a few questions to which my replies were incorrect; the form's instructions gave the impression that if I answered the posed questions in a specific way I had the wrong form. I did not care to fill out the rest of the form, send the state the $50 fee, and then sit around indefinitely while no one contacted me (and while I lost $50), so I went out on a limb and contacted the Fingerprinting Office. By the time they were done with me, I'll bet they were not so glad they had e-mailed me their phone number a couple of weeks back.

I explained my situation to the woman who had answered the phone, but after poking around in my account for a few minutes and asking a colleague for help, she wasn't able to offer any tenable advice other than to suggest I call back the Teacher Certification Line. After explaining (again) why that might not be a good option, I was passed on to the office manager, who turned out to really be an extremely helpful guy. We troubleshot several possible problems - mostly items I could have entered incorrectly, which was fine, as far as I was concerned, because it's an irritating system; he called his tech people, who suggested a few other things that turned out to not be the issue.

Finally, after a two more phone calls between the office manager and his tech people, we found the problem, insofar as it was an option I had incorrectly chosen. It wasn't a clear choice, though; between choosing either "Adolescent Education: English" or "English 7-12" (both of which had a different code) in one particular screen that I had gone through months ago, I had chosen the latter, which made all the difference. I suppose it should have been clearer; the institutional recommendation had been for Adolescent Education, but even the office manager said that there shouldn't be two options available. The tip-off, as I was told in the beginning, was that on one screen I could see that I had the institutional recommendation, but a few screens later I was told that I didn't have it - another problem that I was told they would have to fix up. Those problems, as well as that stupid green check mark showing up when the fingerprint clearance had been received are things that should be solved. This is still a new system, though, I suppose, and the state is still working out a lot of the kinks.

And after all, I said to the office manager that I refused to believe that I'm the only person in the entire state who would have encountered such a problem.