Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Joy's job journey, part 2

Remember my last post/note (depending on whether you're reading this through Blogger or Facebook) mentioned that I'm currently pursuing 2 opportunities in my search for a teaching position--a full-time possibility at a private Catholic school or supply teaching with the Toronto District School Board.

Today I returned to the private Catholic school for the 4th time (my interview was on Wednesday, and I visited the school for various lesson-prep-related reasons both Friday and yesterday) to teach my "trial" lesson. This school's hiring process is kind of like "Teacher Idol"...after your interview with the principal, you may get invited by the science department head to come in and teach a lesson so they can see you in action. I wasn't the first person involved to come in and teach a "trial" lesson, and I'm not the last...but I got an invitation. Unfortunately, the principal was not available to come and watch me teach this lesson as he had planned. The VP who is also the head of guidance came in for a very small part of my lesson...about one minute before I said, "that's all I have for you today" and assigned homework. However, the teacher who is moving to the States (creating the open position in the process) did observe me, talked with me as if I were the one who would be taking over (although he corrected himself now and then with a "...or whoever they decide to hire..."), and told me he had only good things to say about me after seeing my lesson. He told me that I am already a good teacher, and with experience will be a great one (ooo, something to look forward to, heh...that little ego boost didn't hurt my day any :)). In addition, he felt that the candidates who have already taught other "trial" lessons really didn't have their subject matter down pat, even with a week of preparation--they had trouble answering student questions, for example. HOWEVER, he thinks it is the principal and VP who will make the decision in the end...and that in the end it will come down to whether they want to go with someone who is young and has no (paid) experience but a good deal of subject matter (and thus can use the position to improve herself), or someone who has a lot of experience but maybe doesn't do so well on the content knowledge side of things. Story of my looking-for-a-teaching-job life, really. I'll post the news as soon as I hear the school's decision either way, but since at least 1 more person is coming in to teach a "trial" lesson it could take some time. This would be a really sweet position to get, if it does go through. The kids are motivated, well-behaved, and were partly admitted based on their academic ability (i.e., they're smart, too). The science department budget is a dream compared to that of public schools. Best of all, I would only have grade 11 and 12 chemistry on my timetable (I think 3 classes of each--it's a non-semestered school)! It is practically unheard of for a first-year teacher to only have 2 "preps" (courses to prepare for day-in, day-out). Whoa, slow down, Joy...you don't have the position yet, no sense getting too excited, heh :). I *would* have to learn a thing or two about what is expected of a Protestant teaching in a Catholic school, too.

On the supply teaching side of things, I got a call today from the Toronto District School Board to set up my "documenting" session. Lots of potential supply teachers are invited to this session, in which the Board collects all sorts of copies of this, that and the other thing (I count 8 pieces of paper I'm supposed to bring in with me) so that they have a complete file for you and can start paying you as soon as you start taking supply teaching work through them (yes, one of the items I'm supposed to bring is a void cheque, which to me carries a promise of being paid...a promise which is very exciting to me the as-of-yet unemployed teacher). The people there will also explain how the call system works and so on. My session isn't until Oct. 9, which is good because I have yet to get the recent TB test I'm required to bring with me :-P.

That's all I have to report for now. Hopefully all this means my days of having fun but making no money playing computer games at home are coming to an end. Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Update on Joy's job search

Most of you know that I graduated with my B.Ed. back in June, with qualifications to teach high school chemistry and physics. I had a few interviews this summer, but the job hunt for a position in which to use my new degree has been tough. I'll give a (fairly) quick recap of what's happened so far, but the most exciting part is at the end (no, I'm not employed yet, but I may be getting closer).

In interview #1 (at the end of May), the Toronto District School Board interviewed me at the board level. As a result of my successful performance on that interview, I was placed on the TDSB's "eligible to hire" list, which principals can review online when they have an opening and select candidates to interview at the school level. Unfortunately, other than 1 request for a résumé, I have not heard anything from TDSB principals.

Interview #2 (early June) was with a high school in Oshawa, in the Durham region. I was interviewed by 4 people at once--the principal, a VP, the head of math and the head of science. The interview went very well, with lots of smiling and nodding and positive feedback. They seemed to want to keep talking to me, but after having talked with me for quite some time they all realized that it was time for the next period, and some of them had classes to teach! The principal told me even before I left that I'd had a great interview. Unfortunately, when she called me with the results, it was to tell me that the position had gone to someone who had some supply teaching experience and had been at the school before. A job search guide for teachers recommends that we ask for feedback on things we could improve when receiving calls of rejection, but, when asked, this principal reinforced that there was nothing I could have improved in my interview...it just came down to someone having more experience than I.

Interview #3 (early July) was with a high school in Uxbridge. I was interviewed by 3 people here--the principal, a vice-principal, and the head of science. I was fairly tired at that interview for various reasons, but it also went fairly well. When I brought up the idea of holding a Science Olympics event--something I think is fairly common in the greater Toronto area--the head of science seemed quite interested, and hadn't heard of the idea before. Long story short, however, the phone call I ultimately received stated that, although there was nothing I could have improved in my interview, there are quite a few well-qualified candidates out there looking for teaching jobs these days, and I was turned down for this position.

Interview #4 (late August) was with a private high school in Mississauga--a school a friend of mine has worked for before. Only the principal was present for this interview. He also had physics as a teachable, and we connected quite well during this interview (agreeing wholeheartedly on what the most difficult part of physics is to teach, for example--it's generally the motion-time graphs). I left that interview quite confident. Since this interview took place the week before classes were to begin, and staff meetings would be starting as early as the next day, he told me that I would hear a decision by the end of the day. When I received that call, I was told that I was #2 in line to get the job, but unfortunately candidate #1 had more experience. However, the principal was "very impressed" with me and told me he would keep my résumé handy in case something came up.

Interview #5 was yesterday afternoon. This interview was with a private Catholic school (i.e., a Catholic school that is not part of Ontario's separate school board) in the heart of Toronto...not quite south enough to be officially considered downtown, but certainly in a busier area than I am used to. The posted position is to replace their only grade 11 and 12 chemistry teacher, who will be moving. Only the principal was present at this interview. I went to this interview thinking I had been very well-prepared for the teaching interview process by the ones I've had so far (not to mention countless discussions with teaching friends and the material both in my coursework and in teaching-job-search advising sessions and guides), and confident in the positive feedback I'd received from those interviewers (even if that feedback hadn't included an offer of employment). However, the questions this principal asked were much broader that the usual teaching-interview questions, and I found him very difficult to "read" compared to the other interviewers I'd had. It certainly wasn't the usual process of showing knowledge of the right eduspeak "buzzwords" and watching for the appropriate reaction. I walked away from that interview feeling very unsure as to how well I'd done. The hiring process is also a more involved one at this school; while the principal did interview me, it's only the first step in the process (or at least the first step after the initial screening of résumés)...the principal told me he would pass on to the department head the names of the candidates he liked, and the department head might then call and ask if I wanted to come in and teach a lesson or two.

Today I got that phone call from the private Catholic school. I must have done well at the interview after all, because I have been asked to come in and teach a lesson so that the teacher and principal can see how they like me. I will be teaching a grade 11 chemistry class on Tuesday. I will swing by the school tomorrow to pick up a copy of the textbook and have a look at the lab and chemical storage area. Unfortunately the teacher involved won't be there tomorrow, so I'm also going to swing by again on Monday to see what else he has to say in terms of planning and whatnot (and maybe to take another look at chemical storage in case I decide to do a demonstration or lab with them). It's a big time investment, but I'm willing to make it if it will make my "trial" lesson successful and result in a permanent position.

In other job-related news, although I haven't secured a permanent position with the TDSB, I have received an invitation to join their supply teaching list. I had to fax a form to their office, and at some point they are supposed to call and set up a time and date when I can go in and be "documented" (fill in some forms, tell them the divisions I want to supply teach, find out how the call system works that tells you each morning where you're needed, etc.). If I do get a job offer from the private Catholic school, I will obviously have to decide whether I want to teach full-time with them or supply teach with the public board. For now, though, I won't get ahead of myself...I'm going to focus on putting my "trial" lesson together first, and worry about whether to accept a job offer if and when the job offer is made :).

There you go, yet another long-winded summary-of-my-life posting from Joy :). I'll keep you posted on what further developments come up in my career life as they happen.