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The Summer of Hifiman

Posted 04-10-2010 at 12:51 PM by Hifiman
Updated 04-10-2010 at 01:11 PM by Hifiman

Emotionally it's been a roller coaster since June of last year. Well, it's actually been a roller coaster long before that. I'm still trying to do what I can to teach once again. I spent last summer desperately hoping I would be called back to teach at the last minute. That's the way it worked the year before. School had been in session nearly a week when I received the call to teach. But no such luck this time. The call never came.

In the meantime I took the steps I needed to make myself more marketable by earning a single subject credential. It took a bit longer than I had hoped, which put me out of the running for several positions that came along. During this process I applied for absolutely every teaching job I was qualified for. Once in a while I scored an interview. Mostly I didn't. Eventually it became too late in the current school year to get any teaching job. My focus is now for the next school year. All the districts where I live have laid off teachers, but there are several districts that are now starting to post openings for those hard to fill positions, some of which I am now currently qualified for. The problem is the interview process. I hate it. I'm terrible at it and I'd give just about anything not to have to endure another interview ever again.

I'm the worst in interviews. I'm the poster boy for everything that shouldn't be done in one. I try to come off well in them, but too often I don't think I even come close. It all starts out poorly before I even leave the house.

In the days before the interview I have endless interview scenarios play out in my head. I anticipate the questions. I picture some suit asking one question after another and in my mind I'm flawless. I give insightful answers and when it's all done the interviewers are so impressed they won't let me leave without signing a contract. The reality is that it never goes quite that well.

My apprehension really begins when I start getting dressed for the interview. I hate dressing up and very rarely do so. I shower and shave, but the shaving takes forever. I'm trying to get a good shave, but I have a lazy beard. Most of it on my neck lays down the whole time and my electric shaver has a hard time picking it up. I could use a razor. That would get all the hairs, even the lazy ones, but that would also give me numerous cuts and irritated skin that would bother me for the rest of the day.

Getting dressed isn't so bad either. But I always have three problems. I have a hell of a time getting that last button closed on my neck. Sometimes I think it'll take an act of God to get it done. I have lots of ties, but I only ever wear one. I leave it shoved in a drawer with the rest. The only difference is it's still tied from the last time I wore it. I put it around my neck and then try to get the damn thing completely tucked under my collar, which sometimes gives me fits. And then there's the issue of socks. I used to have lots of dress socks, but I don't know what's happened to them over the years. I know my son needs black socks at times when he has to dress up for school band. He wouldn't take my socks, would he? In any case none of my sock will stay up. They immediately fall around my ankles before I get my shoes on. Eventually I'm done. I take one quick peek in the mirror. Not too long. I don't like looking at myself in the mirror. I just look long and close enough to make sure my shirt's tucked in well. My zipper is closed (I don't like drafts) and lines up with my shirt and that's it. I'm out the door.

In the car I once again rehearse how my interview will go. I try to keep the nerves calm. I arrive way earlier than I need to, but I stay in my car and do more rehearsing until it's time. Everything seems like it will work and I'm ready. With ten minutes until the time of my interview I leave the car and that's when it all goes downhill.

I walk in and say hello to the receptionist and identify myself and my purpose. I remember to smile, but I hate smiling. I love frowning. It's natural for me. I love laughing, but that won't work either. Smiling for me has never felt natural. My face doesn't want to do it. I feel fake. I feel like I have the worst smile ever. I can barely make the edges of my mouth curve upward to hint at a smile. It's awful, but I know I have to try.

The next worse part is taking a seat and waiting. I'm uncomfortable in my clothes. Wearing them also screams, "I'm here to be interviewed! I have no job!" to everyone who walks by. Eventually someone comes to get me and walk me back to a room. I wait to be invited to take a seat. Then it gets even worse from there when that dreaded first question is asked, "Tell me something about yourself."

I hate that question. I never know quite how to answer it. Am I giving too much information, not enough information, or the wrong kind of information. And no matter how much I try to prepare for this question and practice it well, when it's asked of me I totally blank out. It's like I have no idea who I am. I'm honestly surprised I don't slip and just say, "Well, I really like boobs. I like Salma Hayek's boobs, but my wife's are a very close second." I then spend a few moments after that question kind of telling myself I really sound boring. I am, but I don't want them knowing that. Well, unless they want me to be boring. Do you start to see how I make myself miserable?

During the interview I'm asked questions. Some I do well with. Others not so well. Mostly the questions are all the same and I do alright with them. On two interviews I was thrown a curve ball. One was my fault. I should have been better prepared, but it was a very last minute interview and I only had about an hour of prep for it. The other one just really threw me off.

Then there are the questions I get to ask. That has burned me in two interviews. One from several years back and my most recent one. In my prep for interviewing I searched through some materials I had at my disposal to help me come up with a few good questions. One in particular really seemed to upset the principal that I would ask such a question. I was as surprised by his reaction as he likely was by me asking it. This was during my very first teaching interview several years back. For those who are curious the question was something along the lines of asking about the student demographics. Essentially to inquire about the student culture on campus. It was a question suggested by a source specifically for teaching interviews. I've never asked it again. I don't want to risk it.

On my last interview I asked another suggested question meant to ask for feedback as to whether or not there were any concerns about my ability to do the job. On the first interview I asked this of the personnel director who interviewed me. He had no problem with it and answered it enthusiastically. On the second interview with the principal he seemed put out by it. He said that was an illegal question for him to answer, but insisted that it would not affect his decision. Who knows.

This does helps illustrate my frustration with the job hunt. There are just too many opinions out there from far too many sources. There's an endless list of do's and don'ts regarding resumes and cover letters. And one source's list often conflicts with a multitude of others. It can drive one crazy trying to figure out the right thing to do. The same goes for interviewing. As I've discovered first hand with those questions I've asked, it's easy to get into trouble by following someone's advice. It's making me insane.

If all this wasn't bad enough, I hate having to endure the days and weeks following an interview to find out the decision. I often think I did well following an interview, but with each day that passes I dissect it more and more until I'm convinced that I've done everything wrong, including breathing in the wrong tempo.

My next interview will be different. I'm just going in there and be me. I'll ask my questions. And when pressed I'll tell them about myself and I'll try not to worry if it's right. Oh, and I'll do my best to still force a smile. Maybe if I think about boobs it'll come easier.
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  1. Old Comment

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