Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Tally So Far

Here's where I am at this point, job hunt-wise:
Applied: 8 districts (plus 4 more I'm in the process of working on)
Interviewed: 3 districts
Call backs: 1 district, 2 times (didn't get first opening, but called again to go after another one)
Paper-screened out: 2 that I know about for sure; may be 2 others that just aren't telling me about it.
Out-right rejections: 1 so far, but one of the jobs I interviewed for is flying again. That is NOT a good sign!
Jobs pulled by district: 1
On the current position: I spoke with the Superintendent on Thursday. He was very sympathetic, said nice things about the district's opinion of me, and that he hoped I would have a spot with them next year. Also offered to call a friend in another district and put my name in for openings they may have. I said, "Yes, that would be great!" He is waiting on some direction from the Governing Board as to how they want to see the slightly-improved budget for next year used, so I still have a chance at a my job existing next year. (Sidenote: I wonder if organizing a "Contact the Board" campaign to keep my job would work? I've heard from several sympathetic parents... Nah, probably not a good idea.)

Like I've said before, I understand the situation. It's not personal, it's personnel.But that understanding does not make this uncertainty any easier to take. I'm not freaking out over the situation, at least not yet. I figure more jobs will open as districts get a clearer picture of who's going to be where in what capacity next year due to promotions and other attrition, and I don't think I'll be too nervous until later in the summer.
My wife, on the other hand, wants to see ink on a contract before the end of this school year. I can understand that, too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No child left behind...

Except the one who really shouldn't go to college.
Something that's left out of our educational system is preparation for those careers that do not require college, that leave out those students who are not, and never will be, college bound.

Why do we think it's bad if a kid doesn't go to college? We still need carpenters, mechanics, other skilled tradesmen/tradeswomen, don't we? Can everyone be in management? Do we need 35 million stockbrokers? Why don't we offer something for those kids who would be happy to learn a trade?

What's wrong with the system?

Still have some options...

Well, I guess if I don't get an administrative job, I can always fall go back into the classroom: I suspect there may be an opening coming up in this neighboring district!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Still workin' it

Had interview number 4 today: 3 firsts and a second. Got a call from the district where I had the second; didn't get the job I was applying for, but they want to interview me again for an opening at another school.
I have to admit, it's good for my ego that they want to try me out for another opening... I completely understand that choosing an assistant principal is kind of like choosing a pair of shoes; it's really important that the fit is right. I'm not egotistical enough to believe that my skills automatically make me fit with any principal, but I'm confident enough to think that I'll be a good fit somewhere, and the fact that they want to "try me on" with another team is a good sign.
Still, I am exhausted by this process, the uncertainty of my situation for next year, the stress of the interview process. It's hard to put my fate, over and over, into the hands of others.
I know will all work out, and I'm taking to heart the message within a book I read this year and finding the power of losing control of my situation.
I must be very powerful; I've lost lots of control!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The times, they are a changin'

Years ago, this sort of thing would have required a darkroom, a Xerox machine, and several hours of work. Now, what, 15 minutes?
And kids are still surprised when it happens.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Anybody out there?

I suppose it's my own fault. I went away for a long time, and was kind of hit-and-miss for a while before that, so it's understandable that the folks who used to read/comment here have moved on.


Would it be too much to ask for a comment every now and then? Someone to follow my Twitter updates (besides Senator Obama, anyway, as much as I appreciate that!)?

Not complaining, just askin'.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oy Vey!

Yesterday was tough.
I rode the rollercoaster of emotion. First, my colleague texted me to say that he wouldn't be in due to a sick kid. There are 3 of us assistant principal-types on campus, so normally one being out isn't that big a deal, but the other has been in state-mandated testing seclusion for the last 3 weeks and wouldn't be much help. I knew supervision was going to be my job for the day. The worst part of that was that it was Wednesday, and our schedule is all jacked up on Wednesdays for collaboration time. This is before I even set foot on campus, remember.
Then, the first thing I did upon arrival at school was sign to indicate I'd received my notice that my job had, so sorry, been officially eliminated by the school board. Not unexpected, but still, it sucked. Things improved briefly when I was able to arrange for some substitute teachers to help out with supervision, but went downhill again when I saw the pile of discipline referrals on my desk (teachers and kids both go a little nuts during testing!).
Back up: I got a call from a district I interviewed with 2 weeks ago, scheduling a second interview!
Back down: lunch duty. We normally have 2 lunch periods, 30 minutes each, with about 15 minutes in between, enough time for us to grab a bite to eat. Wednesdays, it's 2 lunch periods of 35 minutes with about 8 minutes in between. I wound up skipping lunch, thinking I'd grab a sandwich after the lunch periods ended.
Way down: call from a teacher: "Student X is under the influence of alcohol!" Pull Student X from class, talk to her, she's in full denial mode. I asked another person to come in and observe her, but still inconclusive.
Back up: I go back to the teacher, ask for more details, and talk to another student in the class (Student X's good friend) and say, "Do you know why I pulled her out?" He answers, "Because she had alcohol!" Call the police, they send an officer out, she blows a .007 b.a.c on the breathalizer. (By the way: this is "up" because I was able to get the answer, not because I'm glad she was drinking. Student X is a sweet kid, but very troubled.)
Down again: Student X names another kid in connection with the booze, who in turn rolls on another, but neither of those really pan out.
Up once more: another district I applied with called to set up an interview- scheduled it for 90 minutes after the other one (district offices are only 10 minutes away from one another).
Down again: Cleared out Student X and her friends, talked to parents, and headed out the door, only to find one of our kids waiting for a ride home. By this time, it's 5:30, and school gets out at 3. 10 minutes later, mom rolls up and I'm on my way to pick up kids and get ready for a cub scout meeting. Still no lunch. Teacher observation writeups/evaluations need to be signed the next day. Only one is written yet. Still need to observe one teacher. Did I mention they are due next day?
Up, finally to stay: Beautiful and patient wife says she'll take the boy to the scout meeting. I get to eat, sit down, veg out for a few minutes before I start writing evals.

Today? Much better!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Required Reading

Planning on being a teacher? Especially a secondary school teacher? Here's a brief reading list:

When Young Teacher Go Wild on the Web

Washington Post article about the impact of social networking sites on the careers of teachers. This poses an interesting question: do teachers (and by extension, other school employees) have to adhere to a higher standard of behavior in their private lives because of the public nature of their jobs? Considering the technological skills of our students, I'd say yes, at least in regards to what is posted on the Internet. Let's face it: 12-18 year-olds will Google their teachers, and share on campus anything "juicy" they find out!

Teacher Under Construction: Things I Wish I'd Known!: A Survival Handbook for New Middle School Teachers
This is an AWESOME overview of teaching in a junior high! Spend 2 days reading this, and you'll save yourself 5 years worth of trial-and-(lots of) error.
If you live in California, or want to work in California, this is the first stop: a listing of jobs, by county and school district. You can even apply on-line for many of them. Unfortunately, this is not exactly a great time to be entering the profession here in Sunny CA, unless you are a special education teacher or a speech and language pathologist... those folks are in huge demand!

California Education Code
Particularly section 48900. Here in Cali, this deals with the suspension/expulsion of students. Teachers should be familiar with it, so their expectations of student discipline are reasonable.

Obviously this list could go on and on, but this is all I have for right now. I'll add to it as I come up with more material.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gripe session

My wife is an elementary school principal. I love her, and respect what she does, but, frankly, sometimes her job gets on my last nerve.
Take this weekend, for example. It's the time of year when teacher evaluations are coming due, so my sweetheart has spent the last two days at her computer working on them. I took the kids to swimming and karate, did the grocery shopping, 5 loads of laundry, entertained the kids, got them bathed and put to bed.
I know. Many readers will say, "But that's not just her job! What kind of sexist pig are you? Can't a woman have a demanding job outside the family?"
Let me make this clear: I do not resent having to do these things because I feel they are not gender appropriate; I resent it because I have to do them all the time!
My wife and I have a wonderful relationship. In the 12 years we've been together, 10 of which we've been married, we have never had a fight. We've disagreed, certainly, but never stood in the living room yelling at each other. Our relationship has been an equal division of labor since the beginning, each of us taking responsibility for the things we prefer to do. I like to cook, she doesn't like the way I do laundry, so those tasks are divided accordingly. Under normal circumstances, things run very smoothly.
But the point of this whole thing is that, for the 2 years she's been a principal (and to a lesser extent when she was an assistant principal), I've had to take on more of the household responsibilities, and from time to time it annoys me.
When our kids were first born, we would have a conversation in the morning about who was going to pick up whom from daycare. Not anymore. Now it's assumed that I will pick them up, get them home, and get dinner started. She'll call me from work and ask if I have them, but I don't know what she would do if I was to say, "Gosh, I thought YOU were going to get them! I've gone to happy hour with my friends!" (Actually, I think I know what she would say, but this is a family-friendly blog!)
Don't get me wrong: I am fully aware that this is a selfish point of view, and I don't think I would ever actually tell my wife any of this really annoyed me, because I know she feels conflicted about it already. But here, in the safe anonymity of the blogosphere, I'm willing to let it out.
Anyone else have similar stories to tell?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I'm Back!

It's been about 1 1/2 years since I last set fingers to keyboard to post to this blog, and I'm not sure if I'll be sufficiently motivated to post regularly now, but for the moment, anyway, here I am.
It's been an interesting time since I've last posted: my wife has ridden a roller coaster of elation and frustration in her principal-ship, the boys have grown up, and I have learned a ton. A brief summary:
** Teachers are never satisfied with the discipline handed out by administrators. If you give a kid detention, they want more detention. Give her Saturday School, they want her suspended. Suspend him, they want him expelled.
** 13 is the new 16. Where not long ago kids would generally begin their experimentations with drugs, alcohol, and sex as 16- or 17-year-olds now start at 13 or 14. "Early bloomers" might start in 5th or 6th grade. Scary.
** Kids today are the "Communication Generation." (Feel free to use the term; I don't think I stole it from anyone.) Cell phones and text messaging are the modern equivalent of the notes we used to pass one another on sheets of notebook paper. Trying to ban phones from the classroom is an exercise in futility, so we need to find a way to manage them.
** It's all about relationships with people: kids, parents, teachers, community, school board, everyone. You get nothing done if you can't establish relationships with those around you.
** Junior high kids are nuts, but I love them.

I'll post again if I get inspired!