Monday, November 26, 2007

Brief job update: I was *this* close...again.

I have to make this quick so I can finish my lesson planning for tomorrow, but since people have been wishing me good luck again on this one I wanted to give an update. The VP of the school I had the LTO interview with last week called a little while ago. She said I was amazing, that she didn't understand how someone "so young" could be so articulate, that all my answers were succinct and spot-on in terms of what they were looking for, and that my references were great as well. She said she wished she could offer me the job. It turns out that while they've been looking for someone for the LTO position, the same supply teacher has been working with those classes for about a week now and seems to be doing really well with the one class that has some behaviour and special needs issues in it. The school looked at that situation and thought, "Hmm, this is going really well, do we really want to try to get these students to adjust to yet another teacher at this point (especially considering the special needs issues)?" Their answer was no. This is a disappointment, but at the same time, the fact that one of the classes on the timetable was a difficult class was not mentioned in the interview, and I'm not sure how ready I am for that situation. I am not going to shut myself off from the possibility of getting a difficult class when I land something permanent, but it's not my ideal situation either. Anyway, the next batch of LTO postings goes out tomorrow, so I will keep my eyes open. The VP who called me also told me that sometimes principals will send e-mails around to each other mentioning that they have a job for "X" and asking each other if they know anyone who would be good for the job; she told me she would recommend me if anything came up. This is a great vote of confidence from someone who has never seen me teach, and I appreciate it very much.

I hope you are all well...back to the planning now for me!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Employed--part-time, but employed

Well, I've done it...I finally have a teaching position, in a classroom of my very own. I got the hiring call Tuesday, visited the school yesterday, and taught my first class today--talk about having to hit the ground running! I have been hired by Yorkdale Adult Learning Centre, which is on the campus of Yorkdale Secondary School. It is one of 4 adult high schools in the Toronto District School Board. Working at an adult high school is different from an employment (and pay) perspective because their teachers are actually employees of the Continuing Education department rather than the usual Board channels for secondary teachers. This means that I am paid on an hourly basis--and only for the hours that the class actually runs. My marking and prep time are unpaid, and I do not get benefits. I am also only hired to teach one section of one course--I teach the period 1 class of grade 11 chemistry (university preparation level, for you teachers out there who know what that means) from 8 to 10 a.m. every day. The school has 4 quadmesters rather than 2 semesters, and so the classes are 2 hours long and run 5 days a week for 9 weeks. I am not sure exactly what day I am paid until, but it is sometime near the very end of January (my class' exam is Jan. 29, but the quad ends the next day, and then there are some "turnaround days" I don't understand yet). Whether or not I will continue to have a job with the school after that point will depend on the needs of the school. I do have an office (arrangements are still being made to get me an actual desk, but I have been able to squat at another teacher's desk for now), photocopier privileges, a staff washroom key, a textbook, the whole nine yards. I have over 40 students on my register, but in the 2 days I've been there I have yet to see them all. When I was interviewed for this position, the VP interviewing me said that while they would hope their teachers would honor the full 9 weeks of the class, she encouraged me to keep watching the long-term occasional postings put up by the Toronto District School Board and to continue to apply for those positions. This tells me that she recognizes that long-term occasional position comes with better pay (and probably smaller class sizes). Perhaps some people who trained to teach high school also don't enjoy teaching the adults as much as adolescents.

Pros of this job:
- I only have 1 class, 2 hours a day, and can spend the rest of my day planning, marking, and doing things I want to do.
- I only have to prepare and mark for one class.
- Only one other person besides me is teaching the class (she has the 1-3 p.m. class), so there is a lot of leeway to teach the curriculum in the way I want, so long as I teach the curriculum.
- Because I am teaching adults, and adults who are motivated to be there (rather than adolescents who have to be there), I pretty much have no behaviour issues to deal with. There can still be rudeness, complaints of unfairness, etc., but so far things are going pretty well. Perhaps they are still scared of me and I will see a change later, but overall I expect most if not all of my students will be decent human beings to me and to each other...and not having to spend time on behaviour management means more time to work with and enjoy the course content.

- starting class at 8 a.m. (and I still have to get myself ready in the morning, scrape off the car, drive there, do any set-up and photocopying, etc.)...I am so not a morning person!
- being paid hourly, and only for my in-class time, and having no benefits
- lack of job security...I have no idea if they will still want me around when the next quadmester starts
- having to get the entire curriculum into a shorter-than-usual amount of time (the program leader suggests having the students do one of the units as an independent study unit, which I think may actually be necessary if I am going to give a good treatment of the rest of the course).

That all being said, I did have an interview today for an LTO position in grade 9 and 10 science, which would run until the end of a normal semester (so, again, the end of January) with the possibility to continue through to the end of semester 2 (so until the end of June). Who knows what will happen with that...for now, I will give my all to my grade 11 adult learners.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Joy's job journey part 5

I've been getting questions about how the job hunt is going, so here is an update.

I mentioned last update that there was a possibility of my getting a position with a non-school organization teaching ESL and computer literacy to adults. I did interview for that position, and I was offered the position. However, as I mentioned in my last update, the daily pay offered was much lower than the daily rate for a supply teacher. The person interviewing me for the job assured me even during the interview that the position was mine if I wanted it, she was sure I'd be a great teacher, and so on. At the same time, though, she almost seemed to be pushing me to keep going on the path to employment with the Toronto District School Board since I think that is where I ultimately want to be, the pay is better, the atmosphere may be better and less frustrating, and so on. She seemed to indicate I would get frustrated and feel confined in this position. Advice I received from other teachers seemed to indicate that while this would be another teaching job on my résumé, it might not actually "count" in the eyes of the TDSB later should I take the job but apply for TDSB opportunities later down the road, meaning that it actually wouldn't give me the edge of experience that I very much need (and perhaps not counting in terms of my position on the TDSB pay grid as well, though that is a much smaller concern in my mind). Long story short, I did turn down that position, and decided to focus my job search efforts more narrowly on the TDSB...especially since I knew I was going to be placed on the TDSB's supply teacher list in as little as 2 weeks.

Friday, October 26 I received my Toronto District School Board employee number in the mail. That told me that my paperwork had been fully processed by the TDSB and I am finally officially on their supply teacher list for secondary schools. I've only been asking them to put me on that list since the summer, heh...

I decided to take off the week of Oct. 29 to give myself time to read over the literature they gave us at the documentation session (yes, I could have done that in the 2.5 weeks it took them to process my paperwork, but, well, I didn't), take the WHMIS test I was required to and send my answer sheet to the TDSB (also something I could have done in that 2.5 weeks but didn't), register my employee # with the automated phone system that calls supply teachers each day to tell them where they are needed, register with and get to know all the online systems supply teachers have access to, tell schools I'm interested in to put me on their priority list, read over a "classroom management" book I have (CM mainly concerns dealing with behaviour problems, though there is more to it than that) and figure out what tactics I can use as a supply teacher (much different than being a permanent teacher), put together the typical "supply teacher's toolkit" of supplies, and so on. Also, since I've been unemployed all this time and my husband works the night shift on the days he works, I've been going to sleep and waking up at hours that are, well, not the hours teachers live on, so I wanted that time to readjust my daily schedule.

Nov. 1, last Thursday, I visited the high school I attended and got myself put on their priority list of supply teachers for science and math. My OAC chemistry teacher, Mrs. Russell, is still at the school, so her and I chatted for a bit. The Science Teacher's Association of Ontario is having a conference next week Thursday through Saturday, and it looks like I will be covering for teachers at this school for the Thursday and Friday. Incidentally, both days also have a shortened schedule due to parent-teacher interviews happening on the Thursday; I'm not sure if that means I still get a full day's pay (supply teachers are paid on a daily basis), but it's nice to have some work lined up in any case.

Last Thursday I also visited the high school I did my practicum assignments at during teacher's college, got put on their priority list, and saw a couple of my old host teachers. An LTO is supposed to be coming up for one of my old host teachers, according to one of the secretaries, but she is a physics and phys. ed. teacher...unfortunately, I can do the former, but not the latter. (More on LTO positions below, for those of you unfamiliar with the term.) Still, I'm on their list of people to call for science supply jobs.

Finally, last Thursday I not only mailed off my WHMIS test and supply teacher profile (the sheet that tells them what I'm qualified to teach, what I'm willing-but-not-qualified to teach, what days I'm available and in what geographic areas I'm willing to teach), I also faxed off an application for a long-term-occasional (LTO) position. If you don't already know, an LTO is any supply teaching job where the teacher works with the same classes for 15 consecutive days or more. Getting one or more LTO positions is supposed to be a good way to get your foot in a little bit further with the TDSB in terms of getting a permanent full-time teaching position. This particular position would run from Nov. 19 until Jan. 31 (my birthday!) and is in grade 9 and 10 science.

This morning, I received a phone call from the school whose LTO position I applied for--they want me to come in for an interview tomorrow at 11! Keep in mind I have had interviews for teaching positions before (and great interviews, at that) and not actually been offered any of those positions, but each interview is still a new opportunity. Perhaps I *will* get this one. Perhaps it will lead to a permanent full-time position (either because the person being replaced does not return for whatever reason or because the added experience on my résumé and a good evaluation of my performance leads to something with that school or another). Perhaps not. Still, an offer of an interview is a vote of confidence on the part of the principal. It reassures me that although I have come up against frustrations in my job search, there are still opportunities out there for me to pursue. Every call for an interview, every prospect of employment is a breath of fresh air in my life right now, even if it does carry with it the possibility of disappointment. Don't get me wrong--I do enjoy the free time being unemployed brings, along with the freedom to go out and see friends on a whim rather than having to look after the lesson planning and marking that come with teaching. I know, though, that I enjoy teaching more. Even when all I was doing was teaching that "trial" lesson at that private school that was thinking about hiring me, or teaching a lesson at practicum, it seems that often when I've been in a classroom in a teaching role it's just felt "right." Sure, it's hard work. Sure, marking a series of quizzes on significant digits and scientific notation is tedious. Overall, though, the job search people say you gotta do what you love...and it seems that, for whatever reason, I love teaching. I'm not sure that I'll love supply teaching, but it's a step in the process, and who knows, maybe I will. Wish me luck with tomorrow's interview; I'll post again when I have something to report on how the supply teaching situation is going.