Friday, January 25, 2008

Had another interview the position today :).

I had an interview at 11 a.m. yesterday morning. I taught my usual 8-10 a.m. class, drove down to the interviewing school, interviewed until 11:30 a.m., then drove back to my current school for lunch and to teach my 1-3 p.m. class. The interview team (which consisted of the principal, a vice principal and the school's curriculum leader for science) did a lot of smiling and enthusiastic nodding as they wrote their notes. At the conclusion of the interview, the principal told me they loved everything they heard, and that while he couldn't officially offer me the job there and then, he was going to try to contact my references and process the paperwork to get an offer in place as soon as possible...and that in the meantime, I could "rest assured." Today I got a call on my cell phone from that principal with the official offer, and so I have officially accepted and been hired into a contract position for semester 2! All that is left is for Employee Services to contact me about the paperwork I'll have to sign.

Starting February 1, I will be working at Central Technical School, which is in the Bathurst and Bloor area. I will be teaching grade 9 and 10 science and grade 9 applied math. Certainly there will be challenges working at that school, but I have also heard very positive things from people who have worked there. One interesting thing about their science program is that the students switch teachers partway through the course, so the person with the chemistry background teaches the chemistry part of the course and the person with the biology background teaches the biology part of the course. While I have enjoyed my time teaching the adults at Yorkdale, it is good to be moving to a contract position rather than a part-time situation.

Alright, less blogging and more marking...I have to get my responsibilities looked after here before I can move on to the next thing!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Interview went alright...and it's a *contract* position! Now for the waiting...

I attended the interview today that I mentioned in yesterday's post. I had thought that the position was an LTO posting (i.e., just work there that one semester, then have to find myself a new job), but I learned today that it is actually a contract position! This means that I don't need to stay at my current school to have job security (if, again, I get offered this position, that is). I was also told in the interview that this is a very collaborative school. All the teachers who teach a particular course plan the course together, and a lot is already outlined and laid out. The department head pointed out that this means there is no more of this last-minute first-year-teacher panic saying, "Oh my goodness, what am I going to teach tomorrow?!?" While I have enjoyed being the course director, so to speak, of the one course I am teaching (since I'm the only person teaching it at my current school), I have experienced that panic many a time, so the prospect of a job where that would not be part of my daily experience is appealing. Another aspect of the collaboration is that each teacher teaching a course takes on one unit of the course and designs all the quizzes and tests for that unit (including a morning and afternoon version so multiple classes can write what is otherwise more or less the same test). The exam is a common exam (i.e., all the grade 11 physics students write the same exam, regardless of who their teacher is for their particular class), so this sharing of making up the tests and quizzes prepares the students to see exam questions from different teachers as well. All the teachers also offer input on the quizzes and tests, so that a first-year teacher like me doesn't have to worry about the students getting substandard evaluations when my unit comes up. This sharing of responsibilities sounds awesome. On top of that, it could be a shorter commute (approximately 10 minutes on city streets when traffic is good), although I don't really mind my current commute (approximately 20 minutes between city streets and the highway when traffic is good). All the other pros and cons were covered in my previous post.

Overall, it looks like if this position is offered to me, it is something I should be taking. Of course, that is a big "if." I have had very good interviews in the past that did not result in my being employed, and I wouldn't count this one among my "very good" interviews. In retrospect, I can see several ways in which I could have improved my answers, got more of the edumacational "buzzwords" out there, and so on. My "read" of the interviewers also was not exactly negative, but did not send me away with the sense of having nailed the interview that I've had in previous experiences. We shall see. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Interview tomorrow means I might have some thinking to do.

Friday I got a call out of the blue from a high school asking me to come in for an interview tomorrow (Monday) for a position for semester 2 only teaching physics. I did not apply for an LTO or anything at this school, so they must have found me either through the eligible-to-hire list or the supply teacher list (probably the latter, since this being only a one-semester position means it is a long-term occasional position rather than a permanent contract). The last time I got a call out of the blue for something I didn't apply for, I ended up with my current position, so this interview could actually lead to an offer of employment.

If such an offer is made, I am somewhat torn as to what to do.

Reasons to go to the new school:
- it is a good school, with good students, and so while I'd be giving up my very-well-behaved adult students, I still probably wouldn't have to deal with a great deal of behaviour management
- it would count as experience later on down the road if I am indeed moving into the adolescent schools, whereas one teacher has told me my current work would not count (though that is debatable, I think)
- I would have the full number of instructional hours high school courses are intended to be taught in, rather than the reduced number of hours that I have at my current school (mind you, though, I would also have some of that time taken up by things I don't have to deal with right now like assemblies and more administrative issues)
- I would get more pay, as well as benefits, which I am not getting now.

Reasons to stay at my current school:
- okay, so this other school is thinking of taking me on for an LTO for one semester...where do I go after that? There is no guarantee I'd be able to go back to my current school, whereas I know my current school is interested in keeping me around.
- I enjoy working with the adult students.
- my current grade 11 students are begging me to be their grade 12 teacher--they like me. In fact, when they found out we will probably have 2 sections of grade 12 next quadmester, with me only teaching one of them, some of them told me they were praying that they would end up in my class. It's hard to walk away when someone thinks you would be a Godsend if you were their teacher again.
- I enjoy the amount of autonomy I have to do what I want in my course (so long as the curriculum gets taught), and the camaraderie I have with the other chemistry teacher (who is also the head of the academic program at my's nice to have the same teachable subject as the "boss" and have that sense of both connection and support). In the other school, depending on whether there are other physics teachers teaching the courses on the proposed timetable, I could lose some of that.
- I have just started to get myself established I really want to yank up the roots I've started to put down and move elsewhere already?
- really, for me, it's not about the money anyway; Martin and I have always said we will not use any money I make to pay bills or anything because we don't want to be dependent on it in case I decide to stay home once we have children.

None of this will matter if I don't get an offer from the other school anyway (remember, schools have to interview at least 5 candidates or a certain percentage of the candidates even if they already have someone in mind, so this could just be a "quota" interview), but I need to start thinking all this through so that I will be able to respond fairly promptly should an offer come up. In the meantime, I have much marking and planning to do today, so back I go to that...I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A start on my resolutions

Well, if you use the same calendar I do, it looks like another year is upon us. Time for a clean slate, a fresh start, and all that jazz. I have become somewhat skeptical of setting big all-out goals; it seems many people try to dive headfirst with lots of energy into their goals at the beginning of a new year (or whenever they set their goals...perhaps after stepping on the scale after a particularly indulgent day on the chocolate side of life...not that I would know anything about that, of course) only to crash and burn later and give up entirely. There are things I want to work on in my life, however, so I am going to set some smaller goals that I can build on and add to with time. Here are my top 4 goals for the beginning of 2008, in no particular order:

1. Get into and out of bed at the same time every day.
This also means making those times ones that will get me a decent amount of sleep every night. Getting my body on a regular sleep schedule will hopefully give me more energy for every day, cure me of sleepiness-induced apathy (towards my responsibilities, towards the important people in my life, and even towards my goals and dreams), and give me the freedom (energy, spark) to do more of the things I want to do.

2. Exercise at least 10 minutes every day.
Please don't laugh at my measly 10 minutes. I actually am hoping to do more than that each day, but on days when I feel overwhelmed with lesson planning and marking and such being able to tell myself that I only have to do 10 minutes may just make or break whether I do any exercise at all that day. I'm from the school that thinks doing some kind of cardio exercise at least 30 minutes a session 3-4 times a week is best (adding strength and flexibility and balance workouts on top of that over time), so that is what I will eventually be working up to. However, I need to start off small to experiment with how it's going to fit into my daily routine as well as not to injure myself by trying to do too much too soon (which may have happened that time I tried to take up running). I do not intend to ever be working out intensely every day of the week, as I believe the body needs rest days as well, but doing a small amount every day is how I am going to start out for now. (Also, while I see myself only doing intense cardio 3-4 times a week in the future, I still see more "casual" cardio being part of the other days of the week, so the every day nature of this mini goal is in keeping with that as well.)

3. Have a real conversation with a friend at least once a week.
I know I have been bad at keeping in touch with my friends. Yes, I am on Facebook quite a bit, but I hope people understand that there is a HUGE difference between being a "Facebook friend"--no matter how much wall posting and messaging you may do--and participating actively in an honest-to-goodness friendship. I have commented to several people that I believe Facebook actually gives us a false sense of being in touch and connected. Yes, I can get a sense of what's going on in your life from reading your status updates, your notes, and even what other people have written on your wall. However, I can also pick up any gossip magazine and read (though in a distorted account, granted) what is going on in the lives of person X, Y and Z...and that does not make me their friend. My goal is that by the end of the year it will be less of a miracle for me to pick up the phone and call someone, even during weeks when I feel like I am too busy to make the time. Keep in mind, though, that it's not completely my fault that some of my friends are strangers to me, because some of them are very busy people as well...I just hope that at some point some day of the week I'll actually be able to catch some of them long enough to have a conversation.

4. Return to daily devotions and prayer.
I know that I have lost sight recently of what is really important in life. I know I have become more selfish and care less about other people than I used to. I believe getting back to reading God's Word on a regular basis and opening myself to His work in me through prayer and meditation will help to cleanse me of some of the attitude problems I've picked up lately. Hopefully this in turn will have an impact on my friendships (so I will care for my friends more rather than just using them to meet my own needs for affirmation, etc.), my attitude towards my job and my responsibilities, and so on.

As I said, these four mini goals are only a part of what I want to work on in my life, but they are the ones I've chosen to start working with. (I think the sleep goal in particular is important for giving me the energy and spark I'll need to tackle all the goals I have for myself.) What about you--what are you working on right now?