18 Jul

Ten years ago, when I last set out on the job hunting trail, I went to exactly two interviews in the same county.  I had driven up the night before and stayed in a hotel.  The first interview was with an assistant principal and we seemed to get along almost instantly.  We had a real easy and leisurely conversation about the position and just about teaching and education in general.  I don’t remember how long it lasted, but it was a good while, and I left feeling pretty good.

The second interview was at the other high school and I was not sure which it was for, but I found out when I got there.  It was for an EBD self-contained, and I had been there and done that.  I basically said I was not interested in an position that put me off in a back corner, isolated from everyone else.  That interview lasted about 4 minutes.  I walked out of there, feeling like I may have dodged a bullet.

The assistant principal who called and offered me the job two days later would eventually become my principal.  And I was not so isolated and was in fact all over the community as it was truly a community-based program.  But after about 7 years, it began to change radically and under the yoke of NCLB, the community-based became less and less.  And by the end of 10 years, I found myself in a corner, isolated from everyone else.

This summer, the shortest interview ever was the one that did not happen.  I am on summer schedule which means stay up late and wake up late.  But one morning the telephone rang at 9 a.m.  I rolled out, and answered the phone.

“Hello, I’m Ms.Principal from SuchAndSuch Middle School!  I was wondering if you were still interested in the postiion you had applied for with us?”

“Sure, I’m still interviewing, yes…”

I’m a bit groggy but now waking quickly and trying to remember about this particular position out of the many I had looked at and applied for.  On the TeachGeorgia site, where schools post their openings, sometimes the positions themselves are a bit vague.  Sometimes they just say “Grades 6-8 combination”  or “Grades 6-8 special education.”  Neither of these are terribly descriptive, but I hit “apply” anyway, despite the vagueness and the fact that this county and school was a bit far.  Now, as I wake up, I hear the principal, in a more testy voice, “Well, you don’t seem too excited…”

I pause at this….this seemed like an odd comment, but then I am scrambling for a pen and paper to write down contact information.  “Oh, yes!  I’m still interested, and looking forward to talking with you about…ummm…which position is this for, exactly?”

At this point, the lady at the other end got very exasperated, “I’ll tell you what…you do a little more research on me and who I am and call me back!”  >Click<

Wow.  I had a good mind to call the county back to make sure this was not some sort of prank or joke.  But this seems a bullet dodged perhaps.  It also woke me up to the fact that the job market is VERY different than it was 10 years years ago.  Special education teachers are still sought after.  Especially those with my certificate.  In fact, my home county has 3 openings for HS SID/PID….including the one I just left.  All of the high schools are turning their programs at the same time which is a bit scary from a parent’s perspective.

The interviews I have had this summer have all been really good.  I would call them great, in fact.  Never less than an hour and we spend time talking about what is important to us as educators or they as a school system.  Each and every time, I walk out feeling good, if not great.  I feel like I was made for this position, whichever position it might happen to be.  And these are some very divergent positions across a wide spectrum of settings and subjects.  But I come from a wide background so have experiences far and wide.  I can do a lot of different things and do them well.

My first rejection, as it turns out, looks to be rather exceptional, as other interviewers have not gotten back to me or contacted me.  Of course when they don’t answer your phone calls or emails, that is not necessarily a good sign, either!  But the waiting and not knowing is just as bad as a rejection in a way.  Especially when we had spent the sort of time we had in an extended interview process.  It really puts some doubt in my mind and makes me wonder what is going on in the background.  Were my interviews the sort that was just done as part of a process since they already had someone in mind they wanted to hire?

I have encountered this once before several years ago, when I interviewed for a behavior specialist position in our county.  I was glad they hired the person they did, as she was extremely qualified.  But if I had known she had applied, I would not have bothered because the the job description was written for her!  I applied just because I was afraid some people who were much less qualified  had applied and the thought of one of them getting into such an important position scared me!

With 2 weeks left of summer before most counties start their preplanning, I’m quite nervous.  I did have another wonderful interview last week and am hoping this one is the one.  I have loved all of these other situations and systems that I have visited.  They are all newer facilities than the 35 year old building I have been in for the last 10 years.  They seem to have a special caring for the students I would be serving.  They seem to be supportive of the kids and each other.  They are generally smaller, more intimate cultures and communities.  And it is the supportive community that I seek more than anything, rather than just the room in the back corner of the building.  Wonderful things happened in that back room in the corner, no doubt.  But I’ ready for wonderful things to happen in a place not quite so isolated.

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