Disheartened...currently jobless after non-renewal?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by EDJUK8, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. EDJUK8

    EDJUK8 New Member

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    Jul 2, 2018

    I had been there two years, after making my start at another district straight out of college. I was in charge of 5 English classes, homecoming festivities, prom, a student teacher, school pictures, and yearbook this last school year. To say I was stressed beyond max would be an understatement. Yearbook was a learning curve and I didn't get to pick the group of students in the class (the previous teacher did), so my editors quit halfway throughout the year to co-op and many of my students had zero work ethic. Prom was placed solely on my shoulders in the midst of the busiest part of yearbook season because the 1st-year teacher that was supposed to be doing half of the work with me wouldn't take initiative and the other tenured junior sponsors didn't lift a finger. I pretty much, aside from receipting t-shirt orders, did it all. Many days I got there hours early and didn't leave until 3-4 hours after school was over and the parking lot was empty. Then, I was gifted a student teacher, whom I loved, in the midst of yearbook/prom season and I felt like I was barely hanging on at this point, and wasn't able to show this young, future educator the best of my abilities as an educator. I was not asked about having one, merely informed 2 days prior with a sheet in my mailbox. I'm not even qualified to have one yet.

    Trying to juggle all of this, while having to take off a few days to run school pictures and make sure every school event was being photographed, let me feeling dang near dead. To top it all off, I had several students be disrespectful toward me over the course of the year while trying to enforce cell phone rules, cursing, and my P didn't punish them. In one instance, P said "he was afraid the student would quit school" because he was a senior. This was the P's office buddy that the P would watch football reruns with that literally did so many horrible things this year - including physical violence toward another player during a basketball game - and was never once seriously reprimanded by the school.

    So, I had zero support from administration for discipline and no respect for everything that I was doing for the school. I cried many nights and my husband has begged me on several occasions to quit.

    My husband and I even spent 5 hours after school in September assembling a computer lab for Yearbook, that my husband got his work donate. I spent over 24 hours in editing time on the senior slideshow, trying to make it special for my kiddos, which the AP wanted to skip over because I had technical difficulties the day of. I about dang near killed myself for that school in so many ways.

    Two weeks before the last week of school, my AP came to do my final observation that was supposed to be done in February by the P. AP left me the nastiest review, calling impromptu speeches "silly" and even counted the fact that the janitors hadn't visited my room in weeks (trash was about to overflow) against me, saying my room was "messy but organized." I literally had 12/24 kids because seniors had started skipping school at this point, so I was trying to at least do things that would help them in college like speeches. Everyone was asked to fork over passwords to all technology a week prior to the end of school and the AP kept pressing me for lab passwords. I knew it was coming after that. Two weeks before the end of school and you do a 180 on my evaluations and press me for passwords?

    Then, I got the non-renewal letter 3 days before school was out. The P didn't offer me an explanation. Didn't say a word to me (someone from the board comes to deliver the notices) as I was being told the news, asked to sign, etc. The AP stopped me in the hall and told me it was reduction in force and they didn't know if they would be able to hire another teacher, offering to help me find another job. As I was moving out all of my belonging that day, I noticed that they removed the computers from the Yearbook lab and hid them once they delivered the news to me. I guess that's what they really cared about...the computers. A new person was hired a week later, so it was all a lie. The guy hired was mentioned by a tenured teacher as almost getting the other department position last year, but declined it. I can't help feeling like this was premeditated.

    I was told by co-workers that I needed to go somewhere that appreciated my creativity and my willingness to take on things at the school. That tells me that they overloaded me and fired me for it, on top of the fact that they didn't like my modern approach to the classroom (many classes are still worksheet-oriented at that behind-the-times school).

    Ya'll, I have tried to place this in God's hands, but I feel like I'm failing at being patient in the storm. I worked diligently on my cover letter and resume the week after I was fired and got everything updated. I've been patient all summer. Applying to jobs. Waiting patiently. I even emailed every principal of the schools I applied at. I got two "the position is already filled" emails back and no responses after that. No interviews. I've applied to about 20 jobs. There are literally 250 open - all subjects and grade levels - in the districts within driving distance from me, if that doesn't tell ya'll how few there are. I'm starting to lose hope. I feel like I poured my heart and soul into that school, only to be tossed to the side like a piece of garbage the year before tenure. Not only that, but I am still battling my state's unemployment office for unemployment and I applied the week after school was out in May. Why do teachers get treated this way?

    I don't know where to even be looking if teaching this year doesn't pan out. I've been looking and all that pops up are General Manager positions and fast food positions. My teaching degree doesn't qualify me for that. Any advice would be appreciated. I feel like I'm just sitting here, trying to preoccupy myself with hobbies when I should be getting ready for the next school year, taking what I've learned over the year and applying it to my instruction. :(
     
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  3. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Fanatic

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    Jul 2, 2018

    I’m really frustrated that your school did that to you — especially since you’re a newer teacher —and thought you could handle eveythjng pretty much all on your own. What you did is NOT a one-person job. What were they thinking?!

    You needed way more support that you received and I’m surprised some more experienced teachers didn’t step in to offer their aid when you were floundering. I wouldn’t want to work in school like that because they are not looking out for your best interests at all.

    If your non-renewal is brought up during any future interviews as I’m sure it will, then I would professionally state some of things that you mentioned here, such as how many responsibilities were heaped on you, and with no training beforehand. Plus, I would bring up how you were fully expected to pull everything off without any issue.

    Lastly, I don’t understand why the unemployment office would fight against your application as you were clearly non-renewed and did not resign. There shouldn’t be any question as to your lack of employment as you obviously do not currently have a contract for next year and did not quit of your own accord.
     
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  4. EDJUK8

    EDJUK8 New Member

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    Jul 3, 2018

    I have no idea and I ask myself that question. I did the best I could with the hand I was dealt. I'm one of those people that will pour 110% into something, so I guess they figured it would get done.

    I really didn't have any help. The tenured junior sponsors that were supposed to help me acted like prom was at the bottom of their list when I tried to incorporate them into our prom sponsor meetings, shrugging me off in the middle of a meeting to talk to a student and to do RTI stuff. I understand that we all have many hats we wear, but I had a bazillion responsibilities besides prom and I still set aside time for prom. So, I just did everything myself. They came to me a few weeks before prom, asking what they could do to help. It was too late at that point. It was all done. They had also already booked a professional development conference in another state the day of prom, if that tells you anything about how dedicated they were. :dizzy:

    You can say that again. I never felt like my interests were looked out for at all.

    Would you really bring up the negativity of the previous employer? That makes me nervous! I had to answer a question on my online application for the state department (that we use to apply for jobs digitally) about ever being non-renewed. I answered "yes" and said it was a "reduction in force" when asked to explain further because that is what I was told, though I know my employer lied to me. I'm beginning to wonder if my applications are being tossed after seeing that question. I've normally at least gotten a few interviews in the past.

    You have no idea how much I want to be honest, but I'm afraid it will reflect poorly upon me, you know? I did, in my cover letter, say, "I am looking for a school that encourages growth and development in the latest educational strategies and technology, a strong bond between faculty and staff members that fosters a supportive work environment, and creativity with lessons that are standards-based to not only teach content, but to relate it to the lives of students" before saying that I would love the opportunity to grow as an educator at their school because I am passionate about what I do. I wanted to, in a way, say that I've never found that (my last school was definitely the exact opposite) and would thrive in an environment like that, you know?

    They have a copy of my non-renewal letter, so you think it would be simple. My board of education tried to screw me over too. They kept telling the Department of Labor that I "may or may not be coming back," trying to act like I wasn't without job assurance, so there was a dispute about that. I faxed the DOL a copy of the board minutes highlighting where my position was replaced and said the board was providing them with false information because I was non-renewed and replaced within two weeks. Apparently, after that, the board admitted I wasn't coming back. :rofl:Then came another hurdle. They wanted me to fill out a form that gives specifics about the length of my contractual pay and when my last paycheck will arrive. They used that against me and ruled that since my pay doesn't end until August 31, 2018, that I had income. I was informed by my case worker that I would not be wasting my time to appeal and did so the same day they called me with an initial decision. I have my over-the-phone appeal hearing in a week. The appeal letter I wrote explained to them that I was still getting paid for work done from August 2017 - May 2018, but that was not current income because it is pay stretched out past the end of my contract (which was the end of this school year). It is previously earned income, not current income, and I have no job assurance as of right now. We will see how it goes, but it has been very frustrating trying to get unemployment when it seems like every other profession gets it with ease. I feel like a show dog jumping through hoop after hoop. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
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  5. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jul 3, 2018

    If you secure interviews with other districts, tread lightly when mentioning your former district. Do not speak negatively about the school and be certain to remain as positive as possible when talking about your previous position (that is, if it even comes up). The last thing they want to hear is a long, dramatic story.

    Did you happen to ask for letters of rec from your former admin?
     
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  6. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Jul 3, 2018

    Sorry to hear about your deplorable recent experience. Those of who have spent most of our careers working in dysfunctional schools can personally relate to your situation. On the bright side, I hope that your revised resume highlights all the responsibilities that were put on your shoulders. Had you sought advice from this forum early in the school year, I for one would have advised against taking on ANY additional extracurricular activities - including a student teacher - until you had at least five years of experience under your belt. It would have been challenging enough just to have taught the five English classes - instead, for whatever reason, you chose to take on the workload of five people. I'm surprised you didn't come down with a severe case of shingles! With that being said, it's important that you focus on lessons learned and what you would do differently in the future to avoid making the same mistakes again.

    In order to survive in today's teaching profession, some of us have had to develop specific defense mechanisms. At the risk of sounding cynical, here are my recommendations for anyone who is stuck in a "toxic" workplace. Definitely Been There.

    Distrust of School Administrators
    As reported in the research literature, low-performing schools tend to remain low-performing. IMO, this is largely due to administrator incompetence and their predilection for the status quo. Those that I had the privilege of working under were some of the most despicable people I've ever met! So, teachers in these settings would be wise not to blindly trust what they are told by their administrators and definitely refrain from regarding your boss as a trusted friend.

    Minimalist Attitude
    After my initial enthusiasm subsided, I learned to maintain a minimalist attitude with regard to my teaching workload. That meant just doing what was expected and nothing more. Teachers in poorly-run schools have more than enough to do just to keep afloat with their basic programs. Having a minimalist attitude also means politely refusing to take on additional responsibilities and consciously limiting one's work hours both at school and home. Working oneself to death for the good of your "kiddos" is a recipe for disaster! IMO, it may also help some teachers to detach themselves from their beloved kiddos by referring to them simply as students in your class - emotional attachment can sometimes affect one's better judgement.

    Your nightmarish experience serves as a perfect example of what can happen when selfless naive individuals are taken advantage of by immoral administrators. Definitely Been There.

    P.S. If you happen to be able land another teaching job, don't make the common mistake of thinking that it is your "dream school" or that you "love" the principal until you've been there for a few years. People tend to show their true colors only when problems occur - it will pay to always be on your guard.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
  7. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Fanatic

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    Jul 3, 2018

    I would not say anything negative and certainly don’t mention any names. That’s why I said say it professionally. I would say something along the lines: “I was given too many duties (list them) and as a new teacher I found it difficult to fulfill said roles as the person(s) responsible for helping me either quit or were uncooperative and so everything fell on me to complete. And seeing as they were not one-person jobs, it was difficult to do everything to the best of my ability because I was stretched so thin.”

    Try to put a positive spin on it.
     
  8. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Fanatic

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    Jul 3, 2018

    Hey, at least it seems like good news is forthcoming about your unemployment compensation! That’s something to look forward to!
     
  9. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 3, 2018

    I would suggest that you NOT say this in an interview. It comes across as if you either take on more than you can handle or that you blame others for your own failings - whether or not any of that is true. While it does legitimately sound like you were in a bad situation, the people interviewing you aren't going to know that. If you say what was suggested above, you're not going to look like a team player, and you're not going to appear competent. You aren't likely to get the job if you say all of that in an interview. It's best to leave it vague or not bring it up at all.
     
  10. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Fanatic

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    Jul 3, 2018

    I thought I put the qualifier if it is brought up during the interview. And I agree, if it’s not brought up then don’t say anything.

    And I can see your point. How would you word it tactfully, assuming it’s brought up? These jobs weren’t something OP decided to take on — they were forced on her and she had to deal with the fallout.

    I just don’t see how OP can use this experience to be seen as a team player when everyone pretty much left her and she had to do it all by herself. She pleaded for help and no one responded, basically.
     
  11. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 3, 2018

    I wouldn't word it tactfully. I just wouldn't get into at all. That may all be true; nothing was her fault (Although we are only hearing her side of it, so we don't necessarily know that it's true.). However, I wouldn't go into any sort of detail during an interview. I would not bring it up at all. If asked why she left, I'd say reduction in force, since that's what she was told. If it's not a reduction in force, then I'd suggest saying something about it not being a good fit with her beliefs about teamwork and school climate - and then I'd immediately go into what she is looking for in regards to climate without giving them an opportunity to ask any follow up questions. I wouldn't say anything that places blame on someone else or makes her look weak.

    I've never been on an interview where I was asked why I was leaving a school. I have been asked why I wanted to work at the school where I was interviewing but never why I was leaving or why I had left. No matter which direction the question goes - if it gets asked at all - I'd suggest saying what you are looking for in a new school rather than what you disliked about a previous school. That's how you put a positive spin on it and avoid displaying a negative attitude towards a previous school. Many times, the people interviewing you will be able to read between the lines, but they'll also recognize the professionalism that was displayed.
     
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  12. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Fanatic

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    Jul 3, 2018

    I love this post! You have a really great way with words and your responses seem perfectly legitimate. The OP should definitely do this if it is brought up.
     
  13. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    Jul 3, 2018

    Hey, if she was told "reduction in force", it's a very reasonable thing to use in an interview.

    I've also heard that when asked why you left Last Job, it's often a good idea to flip that back in why you want to work for Potential Job and all you can do for them.
     
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  14. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Jul 4, 2018

    I absolutely agree with RIF'd. Give the reason stated, which makes sense, because you weren't nonrenwed until right at the end of the school year, instead of around March or April. Administration knows that not everything is always100% true in any district, nor will they ever make a negative connotation from being RIF'D. I would avoid any real discussion about the overworked, not supported information like the plague. Going into any of that will, indeed, do you no favor, perhaps opening a can of worms that will taint whatever impression you have made up until that point.

    No negative comments, drive the interview through thoughtful examples, and questions that will make it clear that you are looking for a good fit where you can continue to grow as an educator instead of just any job with a paycheck.

    Best of luck to you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
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