Unemployment, ie What I Did Not Write About: Interviewing for Substitute Teaching Positions

I want to stress for clarifications that the events described in this series took place between 2013 and 2014.

I went to my first interview for a substitute teaching profession a little over a week after I had been laid off. The school was very different from the school I had been working at just two weeks before. This was a traditional public school in an upper middle class neighborhood.

Before the interview, I had picked up my copy of The First Days of School from the library. I wish I had heard of that book before I started teaching. In the book, I recognized many of the mistakes that I had made. However, given my current state of mind, I probably should not have read certain passages. Throughout the book, the writers compare effective teachers vs ineffective teachers in a series of charts. Once again, I recognized myself in the ineffective teacher. There was nothing wrong with the charts themselves. Even so, the charts were not helpful because of how I took them. I took them to be characteristics of intrinsic teaching characteristics. They were not. They were lists of effective and ineffective teaching behaviors. There is a difference. Handing out bell work to students is not a innate characteristic. It is an action. A person can hand out morning work to students, no matter the person’s character and disposition.

I was surprised to discover that an interview for a substitute teacher seems to be largely a formality. I was asked a series of questions, some of which I had answered in my interviews the summer before. This time around, I felt myself struggling. In the summer, my answers were enthusiastic and confident. My answers were now uncertain and disinterested. Perhaps I was overly critical, but it did not seem to matter. Immediately after the interview, the women took me into the room with the secretary and I started signing contracts and filling out tax forms.

I would be able to start as soon as I was finger printed.

This process was repeated at a local employment agency for substitute teachers. I was asked to come in for an interview with a packet of papers filled out. This packet of papers included all of the tax forms needed taxes and payroll.

I was looking forward to working as a substitute teacher. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get a foothold into schools and to improve my skills. All that was left was to wait for my clearance from the FBI. In the meantime, I committed myself to reading books, watching movies, going for walks in the park, and trying to relax.

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