Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Substitute Teaching Aggravation

I've been trying like hell to get a job. My preference, of course, would be to get an actual teaching job but I'm about at the point where I'm severely tempted to give up teaching altogether and just pursue a career at Starbucks. I can barely even find a substitute teaching gig.

A couple weeks ago I finally had all my paperwork completed (medical test, references, etc.), and mailed my completed substitute teaching application to the New York City Department of Education (hereafter known as the NYCDOE). A week and a half later my application was returned to me because I had neglected to provide the NYCDOE with some piece of information, which, it turned out was the following: One of the morality questions (which are actually called morality questions) to which I had answered "yes" apparently required some sort of information as to why I had answered the question the way I had; however, there was no statement saying I had to provide this information, nor was there space to do so. Nevertheless, I typed up a little piece about the circumstances, and the next day, instead of mailing it back to the NYCDOE, traipsed into their offices and physically handed it to the Nice Lady who clearly did not like her job. I explained the circumstances for my return, to which she just rolled her eyes and proclaimed it ridiculous that my application packet should have been returned to me for such a piece of information. I, of course, agreed. I was told that I would be hearing from someone eventually, but a timeframe was not provided, despite my request of an estimate. (I had heard that it could take between four and six weeks.) I neglected to ask if applications were ever rejected, which is a question about which I am still curious.

I called the NYCDOE this morning requesting a status update; the Nice Lady was able to tell me that they did, in fact, have my fingerprints on file, and that she would be happy to try to reach the Substitute Teaching Office - which she did, thee times. No one answered the phone. (This is consistent with my having attempted to reach the Substitute Teaching Office previously myself; I left a voice mail, which was never responded to, and tried varies times to reach them, but no one ever answered the phone.) I suspect a trip to the NYCDOE is in the cards for me this week.

In the middle of last week, I sent an e-mail to a substitute teaching staffing agency (of which there are several, I suppose), which provides substitutes to private schools and the like (private and religious schools do not fall under NYCDOE jurisdiction in terms of subs, I suppose). I got a reply the next day, advising me that my resume had been received, that further instructions would be forthcoming within an hour, but if I had not heard form them within 24-48 hours, I should call their New York office. This sounded strange - I wondered if they had a history of promising information that would not be forthcoming. Nevertheless, since I did not hear from them, yesterday morning shortly before noon I called their New York office and talked to a very nice lady who took my information and said that she would be able to access my profile sometime after noon and would be contacting me shortly thereafter. As of this morning, she never did return my call. I tried calling multiple times both yesterday and today, and the one time someone answered the phone, I hit the wrong button and disconnected myself. That taught me a lesson because no one has answered the phone since, neither has my message been returned nor my e-mails been answered.

So, time goes on. In the meantime, in fact just this past Sunday, I was in touch with a private school located in the Wakefield section of the Bronx (to whom I had just e-mailed my resume and letter of interest a day or two previously); the principal offered me a Per Diem subbing position, which I gratefully accepted. On a Sunday. Of course, I haven't been contacted yet, and I suppose it's a possibility that I might not be, but at least I know that the nice Catholic religious people still talk to what is mounting to be professional lepers who aren't touched by other schools.

I was very excited yesterday when a fellow Writing Center tutor who is also subbing told me that the school where she's been subbing seemed interested to know that she had a friend who wanted to sub. She passed on their contact information to me, and I passed on my resume to the secretary of the principal late last night; the secretary was in touch with me this morning to ask if I had my substitute teaching certificate. Since I don't, though, of course I can't substitute at that particular school.

Of course I can't. Despite all the hard work I put in getting my teaching certification, I can't use it because no one will hire me, nor even allow me to substitute at a public school.

That shortage you hear about in New York City public schools? I don't actually believe it's true. I think it's actually a lie. I'm angry, and frustrated. Clearly my getting a teaching certificate was a big waste of time - at this point I actually believe this.

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