Getting the Job

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One sign of spring is a principal thinking of hiring new staff. This was the topic at my district’s last administration meeting. We talked about how to use our online application tool to narrow our applicant pool according to a candidate’s license, training or experience. We learned how important it is to craft interview questions that reveal a candidate’s ability to put our schools’ mission into practice. Everyone agreed how important it is to have a candidate teach a demonstration lesson at our school and how that it is also important to visit a prospective teacher at his/her own school. Hiring teachers is a high stake proposition as nothing will make more of a difference in a students’ school life than a high quality teacher.

This discussion also lead me to reminisce about being hired for my first teaching job in 1986. Online hiring was unheard of in Vermont schools at that time so I picked out some high quality stationery and sent my resume to a rural school in the middle of the state that was looking for an elementary school teacher. It was summertime and they were looking to replace a teacher who had resigned at the last minute. I took out my worn road map and made my way to the school to be met by the secretary and her husband, the school custodian. I was a bit shocked to see that this was an open concept school without walls. Today’s job candidates research my school’s web site and can stump me with questions about my school’s achievement scores or mission statement but I knew nothing about the school I was applying to for my first job. After a brief tour past the tangle of desks and bookcases that had had been moved for summer cleaning, I met with the school principal for about 30 minutes. The next step in the interview process did not involve meeting teachers, parents or students. Instead, I took a ten minute drive down to road to have a short meeting with the superintendent of schools. I particularly remember him making a point about not taking too many sick days as students learn best with their own teacher. A few days after this brief encounter, I received a call saying that I was hired. When I went to school later that August I learned that they were glad to have a “man teacher” for this group of students.

I wonder why this school hired me. We hardly knew each other! I was a brand new, wet behind the ears teacher with zero years of classroom experience. All I knew was that I was grateful for the opportunity, appreciated the big $13,000 annual salary, and was ready to begin honing my craft.

I wonder what your first interview for a teaching job was like. Trial by fire or a brief encounter? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!

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