How on earth am I supposed to respond to this?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by TXowl, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. TXowl

    TXowl Companion

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    Jul 17, 2011

    I have had very awkward conversations at a couple of interviews this year. They have all revolved around my undergrad. As is obvious from my username, I am a proud Rice University alum. I of course mention my degrees in interviews in the "tell us about yourself" portion of the interviews. I sometimes get strange reactions, like why would I want to teach and the HORRIBLY AWKWARD "you must be really smart" comment. How am I supposed to respond to this? I consider myself quite intelligent, but it seems to put off some interviewers that I went to Rice. In one interview one of the teachers kept on asking me questions about what activities I was involved in in high school (the local school her daughter went to as well). I truthfully answered, but I was a total nerd in high school, which comes across in my answer. In that same interview they asked what was the last book I read, which I explained was The Hot Zone, and that also freaked them out. Why do some teachers seem irritated by the fact that I am smart and have academic interests?

    Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but at the first faculty meeting I went to this last year after I was hired, I overheard my team leader say to another teacher, "She went to Rice. She must be smart AND stuck up." My team leader also continually made comments (rude comments) about my vocabulary to other staff members all year.

    Any suggestions on how to respond to comments like those? I'm trying so hard to sell myself without bragging. HELP!
     
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  3. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    Jul 17, 2011

    I am also a graduate of a "name" university (MIT). Honestly, since it is on my resume, I mention my degree field, but don't make a point of naming the university again while interviewing. They are well aware of where I went, and I think mentioning it again might seem overdoing it. Having it on my resume is almost certainly landing me interviews. Once I have the interview, I think I should focus on who I am and what I bring to the table, rather than where I went to college.

    Your (former?) team leader sounds incredibly rude, and I think ignoring those overheard comments is the way to go. If someone were to make a comment about how smart I must be in an interview, I would probably tell a funny story about a silly mistake I recently made. My guess is people are trying to ascertain whether you might have a bit of a chip on your shoulder, so it is an opportunity to show them that you don't.
     
  4. TXowl

    TXowl Companion

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    Jul 17, 2011

    The only reason I mention where I went to school is because the few times I haven't mentioned it they ask where I went, and then I really get a reaction. I have found it easier to bury it in the introduction and hope that something else piques their interest to discuss. In most of my interviews I have had in the last 2 years the teachers in the interviews don't have copies of my resume and when I attempt to pass them out the P tells me not to worry about it...

    She will hopefully be my former team leader if I can snag another job for next year. Otherwise I will be dealing with her commentary for another year :(
     
  5. xitalianacutiex

    xitalianacutiex Rookie

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    Jul 17, 2011

    You know, I went to a small Catholic school for my undergrad so I never get "Oh that is where you went to school" type of comment, but I feel that attitude of judging someone because of anything from their undergrad, to the town the person grew up in, etc is everywhere. When I was in middle school my family moved from an affluent area to a more middle class town. The first day of school when I was asked where I was from, the reaction was "Oh isn't that the rich town?"

    I grew up on the Jersey Shore. Although I like to think I have brains, I do love my fake nails, designer purses, the poof in my hair, and tons of eyeliner and mascara. A couple of years ago my parents decided to retire in Georgia and last year I followed them. Because at times I have that "Jersey Shore" look people automatically assume I am at certain way.

    But it does stink that because you like learning and academics and pushed yourself to be something more people judge you on that. It is hard not to let it get to you but just know that people come from all different walks of life. Be Proud of your accomplishments and know in the end it really is not you, it is them. Even though you really wanted the job at the school, I always say that it is better to be at a school that wants you there and will value you as a teacher.

    The right placement will come along for you.
     
  6. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Jul 17, 2011

    Don't really know about Rice BUT it sounds like you like the fact that they are saying you are smart to a certain degree. Don't blush now!
    Just downplay it, change the subject, and move on.
    The next time someone mentions that you must be smart, you can always say, "I know." (Smile!)
    Rebel1
     
  7. MzQualified

    MzQualified Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2011

    IA...:whistle:
     
  8. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2011

    I think the advice from Mathteachertobe is good.

    I get some of this because of my degree, but the folks I teach with went to elite colleges and graduate programs so there's not much talk about who went where. Our students all want to go to Harvard, so they and their parents actively want teachers who attended a variety of selective colleges.

    Perhaps you could just practice talking about what you've done as a teacher and what you hope to achieve. That's the core of any job interview, and if you can present it in the framework of a productive employee it helps make a problem (you being too smart) into an asset (they're getting something awesome).
     
  9. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jul 17, 2011

    I was never asked where I went to undergrad or where my credential was from. My district is very affluent, you may have heard of the parents of some of the kids in my school, and even the SAHM parents seem to have gone to top tier schools.

    If someone said to me (no, they don't, but IF), "You must be smart!" I'd say, "Well... my mom thinks so." and smile really big.

    Have fun!
     
  10. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Jul 17, 2011

    AH:yawn:
    Rebel1
     
  11. MzQualified

    MzQualified Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2011

    ^^^What does that mean? lol
     
  12. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Jul 17, 2011

    Aaargh Hell!
    Just messing with you!

    What is IA?
    InAppropriate?
    :p
    We are going to get in trouble for hijacking the topic, SO
    RFYL...Read from you later.:cool:
    Rebel1:D
     
  13. tired.mom

    tired.mom Companion

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    Jul 18, 2011

    Hmmmm, that's really interesting you mention that...I'm a UT Austin grad, which definitely has a lot more ooomph behind it than a lot of the colleges the other people I worked with went to (if nothing else based on admissions). I think that it CAN be intimidating, which causes people to behave rudely if they're insecure--hence your experience. So you had the drive to attend a university which was hard to get into and academically challenging...good for you and it's ok to be proud of that!

    I think there is also somewhat of the "well, you went to XYZ school, so why are you teaching?" meaning I guess if I went to UT then I should be an engineer or a CPA or something....

    I would personally be thrilled if we'd had someone from Rice--you betcha it means you're smart! I wish we had more people around here who had more varied educational experiences. Rice is amazing, yes you're smart, so just nod and smile. :D
     
  14. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I'd tell them to "bring it on, b."

    No. That isn't nice. Seriously. If a teacher tried to bully me about my vocabulary, I'd ask her/him if she wanted some help in developing theirs, cause I can give them a few choice words.

    No, that wasn't much better.

    1. Why put up with it? Just tell the lady that you don't like the comments and to stop it.
    2. You obviously like the fact that you attended Rice. Why downplay it? If it comes up in conversation, then just smile and say that you had a great time there.

    I'm so over dealing with drama. Some people can be so annoying and so rude. I plan on having a great year this coming year. Not a soul is going to take anything away from me. I want to enjoy these last few years of teaching and not deal with anyone's bad attitude.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 18, 2011

    In 25 years of teaching, I can tell you where three of my coworkers went to high school:

    1. One was a close friend from high school. I knew where she went to college because we were friends when she went there.

    2. Another went to my college. Every year during March Madness everyone in the school knew where she went.

    3. I worked briefly with a guy who made sure that everyone he met knew that he had gone to Teachers College at Columbia University. I guess we were supposed to be remarkably impressed??? Having dealt with some of the kids who tried to learn geometry from him, let's just say that TC is no longer something to brag about in my school.

    So, to be honest with it, I can't imagine how anyone outside of an interview would know where you went to college, any more than they would know something like the name of your high school sweetheart or your shoe size. It's simply not something that has ever come up in conversation.
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 18, 2011

    Teachers SHOULD be smart. My hiring committee would not be off put by someone from a 'name' university. In fact, we consider the quality of universities attended when screening candidates for interviews.

    As far as your book discussion...I don't think 'The Hot Zone' was what they were expecting...it was a 1994 bestseller, so some my have been unfamiliar with it or they may have been looking for professional reading. We usually ask what PROFESSIONAL reading candidates are doing.

    Take your high school off your resume.:2cents:

    Consider that many professional educators are very smart people with whom and from whom you can learn much, and they from you. You may be sending off some 'vibe' through your own comportment and attitude. Schools DO want to hire intelligent, well spoken candidates who are open minded and who are team players. Are you sending that message?
     
  17. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    :) Ivy League here and proud of it. And yes, people notice. And yes, I am quite proud. But I have never been asked if I am smart. They just say, IMPRESSIVE. LOL. Thankfully they don't look too hard at transcripts because my freshman year I was put on probation and lost my scholarship. Ok... first time away from home AND I was partying it up! But I rallied the next three years!
     
  18. MzQualified

    MzQualified Comrade

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    Jul 18, 2011


    IA= I agree:lol:
     
  19. TXowl

    TXowl Companion

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    Jul 18, 2011

    My high school isn't on my resume. It came up in conversation because the interview was in my home district and the AP was my former AP in elementary school.

    Czacza- The only reason I answered with The Hot Zone, rather than a professional book I'm also reading is because it was a casual follow up interview and the previous question was "What is your favorite tv show?" I figured they wanted to hear what I am like outside of professional reading.

    Alice- I know where almost every teacher at my campus went to college. It's very normal here for teachers to have a pennant/ poster from their school hanging in their classroom. Also, we have spirit days where they ask us to wear our college shirts to show students the variety and encourage all students to attend college.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011
  20. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Jul 18, 2011

    :agreed:

    Being smart is a great advantage that will help you immensely throughout your life.

    But having great skills in negotiating social situations is an even better advantage in life. Candidates who have excellent social skills will often win out over someone who attended a great college, or has a very high GPA. Social skills can seal the deal.

    You can improve your social skills. But you have to be aware of what is lacking and actively work on it.

    When you speak to a class of young people, you probably speak using words that they will understand, often throwing in more challenging words to expose them to a larger vocabulary. But I bet you don't pepper your conversation with loads of challenging words, because then the students might not be able to grasp what you are saying. I have a feeling that you keep your vocabulary in check when speaking to parents, also.


    If you do that for your students, then you have an awareness of the vocabulary level that you are using when you speak. Use that awareness when speaking to your colleague, who is clearly insecure and resents any reminder of her inferiority.

    You may be thinking, "Why should I bother to do that? It's her problem." That's true, but you have to work with her. So now it's your problem, too. Succeeding socially means that you try not to step on others' insecurities if you can help it.

    In regard to the person who made the comment about being stuck up, prove her wrong. Go out of your way to greet her with a smile, speak to her in a friendly way, making sure to keep your vocabulary "in check".

    You will be amazed at how just making these small adjustments will enable you to negotiate the social scene at your school more smoothly, and in turn you will be happier.

    Switching schools isn't necessarily the answer, because you will run into insecure people wherever you go. Learning how to deal with all kinds of people can make life go easier for you.
     
  21. Rainbowbird

    Rainbowbird Groupie

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I agree with a PP: just be self-depreciating to show that you are not overly impressed with yourself. :) The comment "my mom thinks so" is a great response.

    Many people may be impressed with your education, some may be intimidated; either way, you can be proud of it without seeming conceited.

    I will say that I only have the vaguest knowledge of Rice, since I live on the East Coast. Around here, you can prob. guess it is Yale, Harvard, etc. that would be considered impressive resume-boosters. However, I know tons of teachers, myself included, who went to state schools, and there are a lot of good state programs that are locally famous for their teacher prep. programs. I think that once the interview starts, it is really more about your knowledge, skills, personality, and work-ethic, than a name on your resume.
     
  22. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Jul 18, 2011

    All you can do is make sure you have that balance of self confidence, yet modesty & humility. Also, remember smiling goes a long way too! :)
     
  23. TXowl

    TXowl Companion

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I do cater to the given audience when I speak. Other teachers were impressed by the words that became part of my kids' vocabulary this year because I do try to use new words to teach them. With my team leader it just became a running theme this year that she would comment on my word choice, even when I wasn't using "big words." It was so strange because as a 4th grade teacher who teaches writing (tested in Texas) I thought that increasing student vocabulary was a good thing, but she just got irritated with me. I just really hate the "You went to XYZ school, you must be really smart" comments because it's not like I think/say "You went to ABC school you must not be very bright."
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011
  24. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    Jul 18, 2011

    :agreed: Don't let this be the focus of conversations and use your sense of humor to take the attention away from this. In teaching you are going to have to collaborate with all types of teachers and many get intimidated easily.

    I don't have a degree from a big university but the fact that I have endorsements in almost all areas of middle school intimidates some people. I know having good relationships with teachers is important in my job as well as being a team player so I usually make fun of my silly mistakes to put them at easy. I also ask them for advice or help so that way they don't feel like I'm the know it all.

    I worked as a customer care liaison for 5 years at a check printing company where I learned some serious skills about how to get along with all sorts of people. It's really paying off because I used to have the same problem where people would get intimidated by me just because I like to do and learn different things.
     
  25. tired.mom

    tired.mom Companion

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    Jul 19, 2011

    It IS a good thing. I've taught writing for five years, this I do at least know. :)
     

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