Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Joy's job journey, part 4 (+ feeling fantastic)

I don't have a lot to report, but as I've been getting questions from people I figured I'd write an update. Of course, knowing my writing style, my "not much to report" will generate a fairly long post anyway ;).

Yesterday was my "documenting" session with the Toronto District School Board, which will lead to my being placed on their secondary occasional teacher list. These "documenting" sessions are group sessions...I'm really bad at estimating, but I'd say there were about 80-90 people at my session. All of these people are, like me, on the TDSB's eligible-to-hire list but have not yet managed to secure a full-time position. The girl who sat to my left even had similar teachables as mine--chemistry and math vs. my chemistry and physics (and enough university math courses to do the math AQ :)). The session lasted about 2 1/2 hours. The leaders for the first part walked us through information on our contract, such as our pay scale, how supplying affects our eligible-to-hire status, how many days we have to work to remain on the supply list for next year, what is considered a long-term occasional position, and so on. They also walked us through filling out some forms and getting all the documents we'd brought with us checked over and into our file. One of the leaders is responsible for processing all those files, getting us our clearance with the Board and sending us our employee number--the number we need to receive before we can start doing supply work. Because she is only one person and there are many of us to process (not just at my session, but at other similar sessions as well), it will take about 2 weeks for us to receive our employee numbers if all is straightforward with our file (which should be the case for me), so it will be at least that long before I can start making money with the TDSB (well, unless I get a full-time position before then, heh). The leader for the last part of the session told us what we needed to know about how the call system works that assigns you your job(s) for the day and how to register for it. (Unlike in other boards, where a real person calls you to dispatch you, Toronto uses an automated, interactive phone system to handle their supply work.) She also detailed what to do in the event of problems such as running late for a job, a mix-up at the school that assigned the job, and needing to book time off. All in all the session was straightforward and light. While I'd worried about it dragging on when I heard it would be 2 1/2 hours, I didn't find that it did. The only time that could have been really bad was waiting for the 2 leaders to check over everyone's documents and answer their questions individually, but getting into conversation with my seatmate made that go by faster.

Yesterday one of my friends from Woburn also told me about a position that's opened up at her workplace, teaching ESL and computer literacy to adults. The daily pay is not nearly what the daily rate is for supply teaching, but depending on how many supply calls I get per week the weekly rate could be higher (or not). Anyway, I rushed off to the post office last night to fax my résumé into there (since I moved too slowly the last time this position opened up and lost the opportunity as a result), so we'll see what happens from there. The position would only be until Christmas, after which I would go back to TDSB supply work. If this place calls me for an interview, I'll have to think more about what I'm comfortable with in terms of pay (low pay, but steady work, or unsteady work with higher pay) so that if they offer me a position I'll know whether I'll want to accept it or take my chances with the TDSB for now. Hmm, using it to broaden my teaching résumé could be good, too, though, but will it "count" in the eyes of the TDSB further down the road? Lots to think about.

Overall, I am feeling much better about my job situation than when I wrote my last post. This is partly because I am accepting that it seems many teachers I've spoken to or heard about also did not get a permanent position right off the bat...supplying for months to years is far from unusual (unless the teacher had private school or overseas experience, of course), so why should my case be any different? I'm a good teacher by all accounts, but so are many others who have been through what I'm going through now. Thanksgiving also passed recently (well, in Canada, anyway), with all its reminders of the abundance that I have relative to many other people in the world. I am lucky to have a husband that already provides for me, such that we could keep going with our current standard of living for quite a while without me having to work at all. Yes, I want to work and to help save up for some of the things we'd like to do financially (buy out the car when the lease is up, contribute in a bigger way to our church's building program, save up a down payment for our own place), but we really aren't in a bad spot right now, and I know of people even from my own teacher's college program who need to find a position to help support their families much more than I (not that I'm going to back off my job search in light of that!).

This is not job-related, but I also happen to be in a great mood today. I got a decent amount of sleep last night without having to resort to sleeping in hours and hours (due to a too-late turn-in time). It's sunny out. It's my favourite season of the year, and I was out and about in it yesterday since I walked and took the subway to the TDSB yesterday. (Love those coloured leaves, the cool-but-not-cold weather, and even the autumn rain when it doesn't make me ill.) I am feeling lucky to have a husband that reassures me when I'm having one of my spells of insecurity. The new devotional material my church has started using this week has been reminding me of important and uplifting things that I forget (not mentally, but emotionally) every now and again. Bah, I'm not going to analyze it, I'm just going to enjoy it :).

Well, I'm off...there is plenty to do in the next few days and too-little time to do it if I get too distracted :P!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Alrighty then. (Joy's job journey continues...part 3)

Well, I got a letter in the mail from that private Catholic school today...turns out they will not be hiring me for that position I was very much hoping to get after all. However, it is a very nice rejection letter, assuring me that since I was asked to teach a class (what I call my "trial" lesson) I was "a serious candidate and ... possess the necessary ability to become a successful educator." (In other words, this was not one of those situations where the school already knew what candidate they were going to hire and just interviewed additional candidates to be nice and/or fulfill a quota.) It also invites me to contact the school should I be interested in being on their supply teacher list or "to do some volunteer work or coaching." I am especially intrigued by the mention of a supply teacher list, as the teacher that observed my trial lesson told me when I inquired that they cover all their absences internally and do not maintain such a list. Perhaps I impressed the school sufficiently to change that ;)...or perhaps I simply received wrong information the first time around.

My "documenting" session that will place me on the Toronto District School Board supply teacher list occurs next Tuesday. Many people attend these sessions and get processed by the TDSB all at once, as they explain how to fill out the forms, make sure everything is in order, put together your file and explain how the call process works that tells you your assignment each day. There are several documents I'm required to bring with me, including the results of a tuberculosis (TB) test. This test takes 2 doctor's appointments over 3 days--one appointment for the doctor to put an injection under your skin, and another appointment 48 hours later for the doctor to check your skin to see if you've reacted to the injection. I had the latter appointment today, and I'm sure you'll all be relieved to know that I do not have TB. Yay.

This past Monday I also sent an application package to a school in Oshawa that interviewed me back in June because they put up a new posting last week for a position exactly like the one I interviewed for (an interview which the principal told me was great even before I left the school that day, but which obviously did not result in a position). I have not yet been contacted by the school, although given how much time passed last time between my applying for the position and being invited to be interviewed it's still possible that they will give me a call. I am trying to maintain the attitude that it would be nice to hear something from them, but I won't hold my breath and won't be devastated if I don't get a call.

All in all, what this job search keeps telling me is this: everyone who interviews me and everyone who sees me in action tells me that I am a good teacher, bright, interview well, etc. The only thing which anyone in a hiring position has against me is my lack of paid teaching experience. This is a frustrating obstacle to have in my way, because it is something completely and utterly out of my hands. I am basically waiting for a principal out there to have the guts to hire me despite this lack of paid teaching experience so that I will therefore have the experience I need to secure a paid teaching position. (To be fair, I'm really waiting not so much on them to have such guts but for a position to become available which a bunch of more-experienced people do not apply for, I suppose. Hopefully those who have been hired in my place are also well-qualified, bright, etc. I'd hate to think the reason I haven't been hired is because principals have found their hands tied by unions or whatever and had to hire less-qualified-but-more-experienced teachers in my place.) Well, to that end, I do know that going on the supply teacher list is going to help me. This will give me paid experience managing a classroom of students. It's not going to give me paid lesson-planning experience, paid parent-teacher-conference experience, paid long-term-class-behaviour-management experience (well, it might if I get a long-term occasional position like a maternity leave, but I'm not sure that will happen right away; I'm sure it'll be one-day-at-a-time for a while). It's not necessarily going to give me a realistic teaching experience even in the behaviour department, since some students (or entire classes of students) act up in extreme ways when the "regular" teacher is away. However, if such paid time in a classroom is what I need to justify myself as a professional educator worthy of being hired in the eyes of those with hiring power, then so be it. Bring it on. If I can survive the daily struggles that come with being the substitute teacher, surely someone out there will see that I can handle the (different, but still present) daily struggles of having my own classroom.