How to Improve my "Brand" for Drama Teacher?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by Fleurdelis, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. Fleurdelis

    Fleurdelis Rookie

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    Jan 15, 2021

    So I recently had an interview for a Middle School Drama teacher position (for the Spring only,) since the teacher is leaving due to concerns over COVID. It will be re-advertised this summer. It was virtual, so I had my husband sit in the room and listen. (they didn't know he was there.) He thought I did well, but I did not get the position.

    Now things I noticed (he didn't think could be an issue), and I'd like opinions on this from teachers who have been through this process. What could be the deciding factor?

    A)I have 19 years of teaching experience and 3 degrees in theatre (MA in Performance Studies and MFA in Theatre Pedagogy). Most of my teaching experience is teaching in a the professional theatre setting. (5 years teaching college and 1 year as a HS teacher. I left the HS position after a year to pursue my graduate degree full time, which I stated.) She brought the 1 year in school system up, which I pointed out I taught 5 years in college.

    B) When asked if I had taught on line before I said, "No, but I am a quick learner, but I will be honest, it would be a learning curve." (Building modules) It is an honest answer for the situation we're in.

    C) When asked what type of speciality courses I'd like to teach (because its a developing program) I said I have ideas, but I'd really like to find out what interests the students. (Yes, I have ideas, I guess I should have just given them.)

    This school system is supposed to be one of the best in our region. I'm wondering if my lack of years teaching in a school system is the problem? Would it be advisable to apply with "lesser" school systems to get hired for experience? (I also just turned 50 so I'm wondering if that's an issue.)

    She said the position would be re-advertised in the summer, and encouraged me to apply if I wasn't hired then, bit I don't want to waste my time just to be a tic mark.

    Thoughts? Advice?
     
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  3. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Comrade

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    Jan 15, 2021

    I feel your pain. After 15 years of trying, I finally got a full-time theatre position in one of the best districts in the area.

    1) Lack of high school experience-Depending on the program you're taking over, they may be concerned that not having the experience of high school theatre will make you a bad fit. High School theatre is very different than college theatre, (and some of that is dependent on the director). It could be a concern that you left to pursue a graduate degree because you couldn't hack the high school setting. And frankly, middle school is even more of a disconnect from college. They may be concerned about your choice of shows (content, etc.), your ability to manage a program on your own, etc., since most college theatre programs are not one man shows.

    2) Online teaching-I don't think that would make a difference, but again, they may be looking for someone who they know can jump right in, especially since it's mid-year.

    3) Ideas - you should have ideas. They want to know what your plans are. While it could hurt you--you're really ambitious and they don't want that, your show choices--not presenting an idea makes it seem like you don't have any. ANother way to approach this is to see what other electives already exist and suggest classes that would work in conjunction with those, like a stagecraft class with a shop class, or a costuming class with family and consumer science class. So, do research before the interview. Find out what they do have, and build on that.

    Honestly, arts jobs are incredibly hard to get. In my own experience, I was passed over twice in favor of an alumni from the school. You also may be too expensive, with your multiple degrees. Just to give you perspective, I have 20 years experience, worked professionally on Broadway as a director and designer, have built 2 theatre programs, have published several plays, and work with local community theatres. I have tons of professional connections. I have former students who work professionally in theatre who I bring to speak to my classes all the time. I have a theatre degree and an English degree. You would think that I'd be a perfect candidate--I was even turned down for a magnet school for the arts--it was given to an alumni fresh out of college who left after 2 years. The job I have now, I replaced a director who retired after 30 years--I got the job because when they started looking for applicants, they show'd her the names, and she and I had worked together, and she knew I would keep the program going, and valued my abilities. We had a new school open up here about 10 years ago with a brand-new theatre and new program--500 people applied for 1 position. They chose the 10 year running state champion theatre director from the school next door. Go figure!

    To make a long story short, keep trying. Volunteer if you can in the schools to help with productions--make sure they know you--that way, you're already tried and true and they trust that you know how their program works. I actually got this job when I wasn't really looking. They called me on opening night of my last production when I was backstage running as assistant stage manager. I wish you luck, and hope my answer wasn't doom and gloom for you. The jobs are out there, but if it is a great district, there are many people vying for the same position. You may also want to make connections with the high school that this particular middle school feeds into and start working there as a volunteer--even a guest artist. If you have local community theatre, get involved--teachers seem to gravitate towards community theatre, and they may very well be a connection that will get you in the door.

    Good luck in your artistic pursuits.
     
  4. Fleurdelis

    Fleurdelis Rookie

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    Jan 15, 2021

    Thank you! This is all very helpful advice, and I will take you advice to heart. I appreciate your frankness.

    Usually when I go to an interview I take the binders of styles curriculums I've written, but I couldn't have done that with a virtual, and I just kind of bit it on that one not having my usual materials. I will definitely have numerous examples of things I'd like to teach for my next interview (binders and otherwise) and will not be shy.

    Your story actually helped me a lot. It is reassuring that even someone as experienced as yourself has been through this, and that the job search isn't easy even when you are experienced and well respected.
     

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