Thursday, November 22, 2007

Good School Hunting

Yep, am actually looking for new jobs now. As opposed to wallowing in my own misery.

I've applied for jobs at 5 schools so far. 4 state schools, so in total about 16 applications on the dreaded Recruitment Online. I know I shouldn't complain as I may have to put in far more than that to find a genuine job. The Domestic Goddess helped me get my confidence back and write my applications. I can do it myself now I am feeling that I am capable of teaching. It really showed how much the last place (now known as 'The Place We Don't Mention') destroyed my confidence. I have applied for 2 science teaching positions, at 2 special schools and a really different sounding teaching job at a private school. I have had two interviews so far and one next Wednesday.

The first was very odd and in the end I decided I didn't want to work there.

Lets call it Special School A. A mate of mine works there it sounded alright but I don't think it is the right place for me. Didn't get the answers I wanted from my questions to them and after seeing Special School B the day before I got the feeling that SSA isn't moving forward fast enough for me. I don't want to be somewhere I'm banging my head against a brick wall too often. And as someone only in my second year of teaching I expected a better idea from them of support they could provide for my teaching. Also didn't see research and further study in the way I'd have hoped either. Later that day I had a very odd phone call. Said they wouldn't be able to let me know tonight as there had been complications (end of phone call should have been right there). Asked how I thought it went then seemed to be digging when I gave the standard reply you always think you could have done better after interviews. It felt odd then I said I wouldn't accept even if they offered me a job and she wanted to know why, so I told her the answers they gave weren't to my liking and I didn't feel it was the right place for me. She got a bit shirty that I got that impression from one interview - which i did, as my mate had always talked the place up. I don't know if she was unimpressed by the thought that I was judging the school in the same way that they were judging me but I didn't think their answers were good enough. They are not the only ones to pick and choose. In the real world, the first time you go to the work place is in the interview and I have been to places a lot more welcoming. It has all felt very odd and somewhat uncomfortable.

I don't think it is unfair to have been comparing Special School A to B. That is how you find a job you like. I don't think they were ready for my generation. An extra question was asked (not strictly allowed in 'merit and equity' terms) about my applications reference to ICT I use with my students. I gave a spiel about what I've done and the response from the Assistant Principal was – that's what we need to be doing, that's the way everything is going. Hmmmm... Special School B has two computer/multimedia rooms and a multimedia teacher! Very strong feeling Special School A isn't for me.

That was last Tuesday. This Monday I had an interview at a private school for a mentoring type role with either year 7 or 8 students. It was more like a chat that a proper interview with just one bloke. He wanted to get an idea that I knew what the position was about and what I thought was important in settling year 7s into secondary school. I think I did alright and he said he'd be recommending me to be shortlisted, then there would be an interview with the head of school and then selected. He had me in mind for a year 7 role as I had recent primary school experience. I asked him my usual questions and his replies were very good. Yes, there is support in regular mentor meetings, induction program and a telephone book thick manual to support your job. Yes, the school encourages further learning, we require it and will help make outside study part of your PD. Misconceptions are that we are a boys only school that is all about sport. We have art and theatre and a student will find a niche whatever their interest. Yep, they were good answers.

So now I'm waiting for the phone to ring.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Got to love that ye olde English for daft words that don't mean what they appear to. Vale, a valley, this mortal life, a farewell.

This teaching thing isn't getting easier for me but this week I have to let go and think of the parent's pain. I haven't really said anything about my class this year now as I get used to having 5 boys in my class not six, I'll try to put what's missing into words. . .

A lot of time is taken up in your teaching by the squeeky wheels, as it were, or in this case by the noisy, stubborn, smart kid who wanted music or video rather than do any work. This kid was eleven and the smallest in the class. In math we had done measuring our growth and from Feb to June he'd grown a centimeter at most. He tested my patience every day but I had such high hopes for him. He'd lived up to every challenge I'd given him, every barrier (literally and metaphorically) that I'd put between him and whatever he was motivated enough to really want to get... usually this was to a CD player. He used his communication book so well that whenever I changed the way he could have music he found a more appropriate compic to demand/ask for it. He would walk with assisstance only if he knew he wasn't going anywhere if he sat down. You couldn't give in to him because he was smart enough to know who's eyes he could pull the wool over. He loved computers and I was looking forward to seeing how he reacted to a magic whiteboard/mimio thing I have yet to set up. His speech pathologist was working on trying him with a mighty mo that would enhance his communication by using his motivation to use computers. I was about to start teaching/insisting he used sign to communicate. He had the dexterity and would have picked it up after a few months (probably weeks) of him screaming at me and me refusing to back down despite the noise. His one noise was a terrible sound but one that it will take me a long time not to be listening out for. How do I spend my time in the class now without him. Explaining death to the others has been very hard and trying to guess how much they understand about it. Trying to have patience this week with my other spoilt little man and his tantrums was so hard... but nothing will be as hard as what those parents are going through. Yesterday the funeral was hard. I wonder if they get easier as you get older and accept death as a part of life. I don't know with these kids, it's not death so much as the lives that they struggle through for such a short time. So many questions without answers... Is it better to have a short life if you have their burdens? Is it a miracle they have lived at all? Are they only here for a short time to learn something - or to teach others? I don't have any answers even for myself.

This kid was good at riding a trike and could say when he'd had enough. He make choices that weren't even on offer. He could stear the electric wheelchair well and when he crashed into walls he meant to and you'd soon see where his hands were reaching to grab, tangle, pull. He liked haveing a choice of music and flicking through after I'd set up over 9 hours of music on the computer he switched to the next song through all of it, after about a line a song, in about half an hour. He was a challenge to engage and has probably made my teaching better, helped me understand my limits, my stubborness, my creativity, my desire to find a way to get through to him. He like it when we made things. He liked being able to reach out and feel things and if you weren't quick enough put them on his head! On his last day of school he had an old wet leaf stuck to his face for a bit whilst he was surrounded by leaves and dirt. He did a great job of putting the leaves into the container once he knew that was what was wanted. He, however, was also intent on grabbing them straight back out again. He sat well on a stool and it was great to get him out of his wheel chair as much as possible, but if you didn't have his attention he'd be off to put on a CD or tangle something up.

There was so much more to that kid that met the eye and I'm glad to have been able to be a part of showing that to more people this year. This stuff is probably what I should have said at his funeral but on short notice I was a lot more brief.

He'd not been sick or hanging on and fighting for life, he'd been living it and his death was sudden and a great shock. In the end I've come to the conclusion that there is never a good day. I'll pack up his stuff from the classroom this week and decide what things to move and what to leave, and how we will remember him.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

It's been a while, eh?

So a quick catch up 'coz I'm in the middle of trying to write a job application! I don't think I have much chance of getting it but I'm really over asking for help and getting the same answers and inaction in reply. Admin do what they can without changing anything. It's not enough. So with any luck this application will get me on the radar of a school I very much like the look of. We'll see what happens...

This year I have the same room and an older group of boys. They are a mixed bag and a handfull. I am once again struggling to manage and feel so bad hoping that at least one will be away so I have a fighting chance of managing the day with everyone getting a little out of it. Admin have been told that my class really should have gone to an experienced teacher. Thanks . Yes, they are fun at times and with older boys we can do cool topics but how much can you get done with 2 who need co-active assistance to do anything, 1 ok if he isn't having seizures but needs frequent monitoring and verbal reminders to keep on task, 1 a wonderfully patient kid who I can't give enough work to, 1 who everyone thinks is very capable because he speaks well but couldn't organise his way out of a wet paper bag (I have a lot of support staff who are very surprised at his inability to organise because of what they had assumed about his ability level...) and 1 who is used to having one on one care and attention and is not used to being expected to do anything a) by himself or b) that he doesn't want to do - the charming lad then hits, throws things and yells. One of the less physically capable kids is also quite bright but spoilt and yells his head off when he isn't getting what he wants.

I have only taught for a year and half. I had to take anti depressants for 8 months to get me through the first year. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing.

I had some things happen in my life recently that made me think work isn't that important - that has got me through to the holidays. The current plan is to see what meaningful change Admin can make. They have made minor changes but that is exactly what happened last year. This year they have 2 weeks into next term to make a difference then I'll decide whether to stay or go. There are many pros and cons which I may list in the future. End of July and I'll decide. I'll look at emergency teaching and hope I get enough money to pay the rent and look for another contract somewhere maybe mainstream maybe not. Or if i get this job I'll have the decision made for me.

Ms Sigh Ants has tagged me with a meme - so after I've written this application I'd better find out what that is!