The interview saga thus far...any advice is always welcome :)

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by MissD59, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Jun 21, 2014

    The entire interview/hiring process for teachers is so tedious and stressful. I can't think of many other industries where the hiring process is similar to this. I feel like I haven't slept much in the past few weeks (probably because I haven't!). I'm pretty stressed out, so I'm venting/sharing, if you all don't mind.

    About 3 weeks ago, I did a demo lesson at a school in Brooklyn. We'll call that School A. I received nothing but positive feedback from the administrators afterwards, and they told me that they'd let me know the following week, and advised me to be patient. I hadn't heard anything after almost two weeks, so I contacted the administrators. I was informed that they received their budget and had unexpected cuts, but they hoped to let me know ASAP. That didn't sound too promising, but nothing I could do about it.

    Two weeks ago, I went on two interviews. The first one at school B was a screening interview with the principal, who scheduled me for a demo lesson the following week on the spot. The second interview was with School C. Oddly, the interview with School C was a first interview, but also a demo lesson. I haven't ever experienced a demo lesson during a first interview before, so I thought it was strange. They told me to arrive early, because parking can be "challenging".

    Challenging was the understatement of the year. It took me an hour and 10 minutes to find parking for my car, and I could tell by the area that this wasn't a fluke incident. From the moment I arrived at the school, I just had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. The school itself turned out to be an overflow school from another area that I had avoided applying to in the first place. The school was very small, and the principal interrupted me during some of my answers during the interview. Out of all the schools I've been interviewing at this year, this was the only one that I felt bad about during the interview.

    My demo lesson was in kindergarten, and the teacher had to leave unexpectedly because her son was sick. The paras were watching the kids and bringing them up from PE; since the teacher left early, they didn't have a sub, and the kids would have multiple periods of PE that day? Needless to say they were off the wall and the paras were screaming at them from the moment they got upstairs. I taught my lesson, which IMHO was the worst demo I've ever done. The lesson was a bit too advanced for this particular class, and there was one student who was doing everything he could to test me. Making noises the entire time, I tried using positive reinforcement, selective ignoring, called on him calmly when I asked the kids a question for his response to redirect him...nothing. He acted up the entire demo. I tried not to seem fazed, but man did he test me! I felt like nothing was working.

    I left the building exhausted and feeling like I wasted my time. Shortly after, I received a phone call from the school offering me a position. I talked with my parents and friends, and wound up turning the position down. It didn't seem like a place that I wanted to work, between the parking situation and the way the students were spoken to (or should I say yelled at) during the time I was there. I know that beggars can't be choosers, and perhaps I made a big mistake turning them down, but they seemed a little too eager to sell the school to me and hire me. I just had a bad feeling all around.

    This past Monday, I did a demo lesson for school B. I was told to do a 5th grade math lesson, and I was familiar with their math program, so I looked up the curriculum and planned a lesson on coordinate graphing. The principal told me that they had SMART Boards in every room, so I spent pretty much my entire Father's Day planning a SMART Notebook lesson on my parents' couch. The lesson was interactive, and I used real life examples such as maps of the areas the school was located in the lesson. I also found a short SMART Board game from Teachers Pay Teachers for guided practice. For an independent activity, the students were to draw a "blueprint" for a treehouse using plane shapes, and would copy the coordinates of their shapes on a separate piece of paper and trade with a partner, who would then graph the coordinates themselves.

    I came prepared with all my materials, including multiple copies of my lesson plan and printed out slides of the SMART Board lesson and game attached to the lesson plan. Lo and behold, I get to the school and the laptop that is connected to the SMART Board somehow doesn't have SMART Notebook installed on it? (A first, if you've ever used a SMART Board before).

    Now, I know that one has to be prepared for anything, as technology fails and teaching always throws us curveballs. However, this wasn't an example of technology failing, rather, the school didn't even have the program that they told me they would have. That was a bit frustrating, especially since it was a graphing lesson and I spent so much time preparing. Once I realized the program wasn't on the laptop, I turned the SMART Board off and dragged a dry erase easel to the carpet area and winged it.

    The lesson was not as organized or well done as my initial planning, but I kept calm and went with it. The students were well behaved and participated, and were engaged during the independent activity. In fact, their designs were incredibly impressive, some of them really got into it! As I circled the room, I could see that there was definitely a bit of confusion among some of the students with how to list the coordinates when shapes overlapped, so I called for the students attention and drew an example of the source of their confusion on the dry erase board and talked them through it.

    After the demo, the literacy coach and AP interviewed me and talked to me for almost 50 minutes. They handed me a copy of a student's persuasive essay, and asked me to read it and write down the student's strengths and weaknesses, and told me to list the weaknesses in a hierarchy (what would I teach this student first and why). They also asked me to reflect on my lesson a bit.

    I did get a good impression from them; we talked for a really long time. I think it went well, considering all mishaps. I think the thing that might keep me from the job is that they have a large ELL population, and I am not certified in ELL. They told me that they would come to a decision this Monday.

    After the interview at School B, I had an interview that afternoon at School D. Both schools were in Brooklyn near Coney Island, so I rode the Cyclone and walked the Boardwalk to kill some time between interviews and calm my nerves. School D was located in a beautiful area, and I absolutely loved the school. They have a first grade teaching position open (one of my favorite grades), and had just recently done a Disney themed school show. I used to work at Disney World, so that was a topic of interest. The principal and assistant principal were VERY laid back and informal, almost to the point of making me a bit nervous. They asked me if I would be comfortable doing a demo lesson, and I said absolutely. They told met that they were interviewing candidates and that I would hear from them this week if they wanted me to do a demo. Sadly, I haven't heard anything from them, so I'm guessing that I'm out of the running.

    In between the interviews at School B and D, I received a letter from the AP at School A telling me that I didn't get the job, but that it was a pleasure to witness my teaching and blah blah blah. Shortly after, the principal of School A emailed me, telling me that PS *** was hiring, and that I should contact the principal with my resume and tell her that he referred me. Ironically, PS *** was School B, the school that I had just done my demo lesson at this morning.

    On Thursday, I received a call around 4:00 for another school in Brooklyn, School E. They wanted me to come in the very next day for an interview. I went to the interview which went well, and they scheduled a demo lesson for this coming Tuesday. There is a 5th grade opening there, and I have to plan a writing lesson. I loved the school and the location, and the overall philosophy of the principal aligned very closely with my own. I really enjoyed the school, so I am a bit anxious planning my demo right now.

    In addition to my demo lesson at School E on Tuesday, I have a first interview on Monday at School F (another school in Brooklyn), and two more first interviews on Tuesday at two schools in Queens which we'll call School G and H. So one interview on Monday, and three on Tuesday (including the demo).

    I am so stressed out, overwhelmed, and tired. I am a full time permanent sub at a school district on Long Island right now, where there are unfortunately no openings for next year. Fortunately, I have a wonderfully understanding principal who lets me go on interviews and is so encouraging. I am incredibly lucky in that respect, because all of these interviews take place during the school day, often times with little notice. I know from prior experience that the job market around here is incredibly competitive, and if you are not available for an interview when they would like, they tend to not be flexible at all with your schedule and just go on to the next candidate. Each school, of course, asks what you know about the school, so I have to do research about every school (naturally), but keeping them straight when you have 3 interviews in one day can be difficult! I keep a small notebook and have a page for each school where I take notes on the school, write down the contact information, the dates of the interviews, the names of the people that I interview with, and any information that I receive during the interview. I always refer to the book prior to walking into an interview to refresh my memory!

    I am doing MUCH better than I was last year in the job hunt, but I still feel unsuccessful since I wasn't offered the position at School B and don't have a job yet for the upcoming school year. I'm appreciative that I am going on interviews, but I can't help but feel frustrated with the entire process. I truly feel like a dime a dozen, and it is so difficult to stand out. I feel like demo lessons are completely inauthentic representations for how someone actually teaches, since you often have no idea what the needs of the students are, how many students are ELL or have special needs, what the students prior knowledge is or what the curriculum has been like all year, etc. They are horse and pony shows, and while they are necessary and I will of course try my best, they are a bit frustrating and time consuming. I see some people on these boards getting hired without having to ever do a demo, and I am very jealous.

    Any advice or even hugs (haha)? Was turning down the offer at School C a huge mistake? I am trying my best, but this whole process is so overwhelming at times with how they expect you to drop everything with little notice for an interview, how much preparation is involved, and how difficult it can be while working full time and job hunting. I haven't had my own classroom before (the job market on Long Island is especially horrific), but I have had experience as a TA and a substitute teacher. I feel that the fact that I haven't had my own classroom and experience is a negative in the eyes of interviewers. Not only that, but I know they'd love to see examples of student work, but that's a bit difficult to do as a sub or a TA. My examples are from student teaching, which was a couple of years ago. IMHO I'm a better teacher now, and I approach things a bit differently since then.

    I just hope that I get something sooner rather than later, since I've been spending all of my weekends and free time planning demos and prepping for interviews.
     
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  3. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jun 21, 2014

    Wow that is so many interviews!!! I have had 9 interview offers and never been asked to come in a second time or do a demo lesson (though I did get an offer yesterday but it's a maternity leave/year long position)

    I really think you will get a job. You're doing great. I know it's hard work...I don't think you made a mistake turning down an offer from that school.
     
  4. Kelster95

    Kelster95 Companion

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    Jun 21, 2014

    Good luck! I am in a similar situation. I turned down an offer last week for a middle school self contained emotional disabilities class, I am just not comfortable with that population and I am only provisionally certified in sped. I am hoping to hear this week from a school with a math and a language arts opening.
     
  5. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    Jun 21, 2014

    I really think you are going to land a job this summer. The number of demos you are landing is very impressive! Try to hang in there and stay as positive as you can.

    Good luck!
     
  6. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    I know it seems frustrating that you've been dedicating a lot of time to planning lessons but trust me it'll pay off! You're on the right track and don't feel bad about turning down a position. You felt it wasn't a good fit there's nothing wrong with that. This city is filled with schools!

    Remember I'm in the same boat, in the same market so I know exactly what you are talking about. Most schools I've interviewed at have had the interview and demo on the same day so it's not unusual. You will get a job this summer. Just make sure you feel comfortable accepting it when you receive an offer. Good luck!
     
  7. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Jun 21, 2014

    Special Ed covers such a range of responsibilities and different classroom environments that I think it's important to know what you would be comfortable with/what your strengths are. I'm special ed certified as well, and there are certain classroom environments such as ABA that really aren't my thing. Nothing wrong with that, since I have a few friends who went to school specifically because they wanted to work in an ABA room! We all have our interests/preferences, and I think that it's important to know what those are.
     
  8. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    Also I am totally jealous of people who land positions without doing a demo! Granted both my previous teaching jobs I didn't have to do a demo, but honestly it's just not common to be hired around here without one.
     
  9. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Were they charter schools, or regular public schools? The only time I've ever heard of a demo and interview on the first lesson was for charter school interviews; on Long Island that's totally unheard of. I've had a screening interview and a panel interview before I even got to the demo stage on Long Island. :dizzy:
     
  10. Teacher Gii

    Teacher Gii Companion

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    Jun 21, 2014

    I guess it depends on where you live. I have never heard of anyone (me included) having to a demo in my area.
     
  11. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    It was a combination of all, private, public and charter. Last summer I had a demo and interview at a public school the same day. On Thursday I was supposed to have a demo and interview but it wound up only being a demo as the principal wasn't available for the interview :unsure:
     
  12. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    That is my dream interview scenario! I overanalyze and am a complete type A perfectionist, so planning a demo is difficult for me. In the NY metro area, demos are the norm, from what I can tell.
     
  13. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    That has happened to me before, but that was because the principal was actually out sick with a fever. Things happen, I know, but it is frustrating!
     
  14. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    Yeah she was in a "meeting" so I'm not sure how to take that response. I have hope but at the same time I'm not sitting around waiting for them to contact me.

    Have you reached out to the admin at the school you were offered a job at a few months ago but couldn't be hired for? Maybe they have something for September.
     
  15. My3kloves

    My3kloves Rookie

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    I have never heard of doing demos here in Texas. I've gone on 11 interviews and not one of them mentioned it. Here, it's all about interviewing with the principals first then come back to be interviewed with a panel of teachers. It's really tough to land interviews here in the DFW area. Some districts have you go through a screening either online or through HR that you must score high on in order to get interviews. It's tough!!
     
  16. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Jun 21, 2014

    That's similar to how it is around here, except with the demo lesson added on to it. I got a lot of my interviews by mailing my resume directly to principals, even though I am approved through the NYC Teacher Finder application online. Panels are more the norm than not, but I've had panels be just administrators and I've had panels be principals, teachers, support staff, etc. It all depends!
     
  17. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Jun 23, 2014

    I just got back from my interview at School F, where the principal was running a good 40 minutes late for my interview. I think that it went well, but they aren't even certain which positions they have open yet or how many teachers they'll actually need. It's a VERY traditional school (basal readers), but I'd still work there if I was offered a position, even though they seemed a bit old school for my liking. The principal said that I'd hear back from her in a week or so. I'm writing my thank you notes as we speak.

    School B (the school that I did my demo at a week ago) said that I should hear back from them today, but so far I have heard nothing. I don't think that they contacted my references, so I have a feeling I didn't get the job. :(

    Time to figure out and write my demo lesson for my 9:00 am interview tomorrow at School E. I loved it there, so I'm a bit nervous and overthinking everything. :unsure:
     
  18. SleekTeach

    SleekTeach Comrade

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    Jun 23, 2014

    I'm in DFW and you do have to do a demo lesson in Fort Worth ISD just to get in the teacher pool. After that I had to do 2 demo lesson out of the 8 schools I interviewed at. Coincidentally one of those schools is the one that hired me. But yea, I agree that it is pretty rare in Texas. I also agree about it being tough. I applied in Arlington, Everman, Kennedale, Crowley, Mansfield and Burleson and got nothing but confirmations that my applications had been submitted LOL
     
  19. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    6/23 Update

    I just received a call from the assistant principal at School B. She told me that I was a strong candidate, and that they were impressed with my flexibility when the SMART board didn't work, that I had good rapport with the students, and that they thought I gave excellent answers during the interviews, but the other two candidates doing demo lessons got their masters at Columbia Teacher's College (This school is a Teacher's College Reading and Writing Workshop project school). While I have experience with TC from my old school, I haven't really been formally trained in it, let alone have my masters degree from Columbia Teacher's College. The assistant principal told me that it was simply a matter of them having more experience with the program, and that it was easier for them to hire someone they wouldn't have to train so much.

    She also mentioned that she received my thank you letter and that it was much appreciated. :thumb: The AP told me that she and the principal were keeping my resume and would forward it to any schools that they hear of that may have openings. She encouraged me to keep applying, and that I gave a great interview.

    I thanked her and asked her if she had any other feedback for me in terms of my interview skills or demo lesson, and she said that everything was pretty much great, but that I should have done more explicit modeling during the lesson and could have spent more time listening and actively assessing the students in the moment to give them authentic feedback during turn and talk time. Good points, however, my SMART Notebook lesson was set up with explicit modeling examples and opportunities (it was a coordinate graphing lesson), and I typically do a better job with turn and talk, so that was definitely where my nerves came in with the technology failure.

    I did appreciate the phone call and feedback, though. Oh well, on to the next demo....
     
  20. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jun 23, 2014

    that's awesome feedback. You are doing great and you are going to get a job!! It sounds like you are a really good candidate.
     
  21. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    It's really nice that they got back to you and gave you really good feedback. It stinks though that the only reason they didn't hire you was because you didn't go to Columbia. If that was the case why did they waste your time if you were up against candidates who did?

    It's great that they will forward your résumé though so that's a plus!
     
  22. LMichele

    LMichele Cohort

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    You have had a really strong "interview season" so far, especially in NYC when a lot of the hiring is done in the late summer.

    I was in your shoes a few years ago. I was a permanent sub on LI for 3 years before finding my job in NYC. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me!

    Keep us updated on your journey :)
     
  23. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Huh. That's a good point Bunnie...

    grr!!!!
     
  24. CreativeTeachR

    CreativeTeachR Companion

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    Jun 23, 2014

    WOW how do you apply? Snail mail or emails??
     
  25. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Jun 23, 2014

    Snail mail. I spent a good few days during spring break researching schools and making an Excel spreadsheet with contact information of all the DOE schools I wanted to apply to. It was a gigantic pain and took forever, but it seems to have paid off. I sent my resume and cover letter directly to principals at the end of April. All of my interviews with the exception of one have been because of my mass mailing (I know because I can always spot the hard copy of my resume on the desk during the interview; my letterhead has a bit of a colorful border on top).
     
  26. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jun 24, 2014

    Sounds like you've been busy :) I live in northern NJ and went to college/did my student teaching in Long Island, so yeah it's pretty much the norm to have to do a demo lesson. For me, I did a phone interview for my first interview both times- then I came in for a face-to-face interview and demo.

    If you are at all interested, some of the private schools use a company to help them hire people. I used it to get both of my jobs. If you're interested send me a pm and I'll give you their information :)
     
  27. hep223

    hep223 Companion

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    It is great that they gave you feedback! I feel your pain- as much as the feedback is, it stinks that they interviewed you knowing you had not gone to TC.

    I got my first rejection yesterday. She said the only reason they were not taking me into the next round was because it was extremely competive and there were 3 candidates that had Standards Based Grading experience, which I do not.

    Good luck! You do a great interview and will get the right job! :)
     
  28. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    Jun 24, 2014

    So how did everything go today?
     
  29. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    I was offered a 5th grade classroom position for next year!
     
  30. ECE ABC

    ECE ABC Comrade

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    Ohhh WOW!!! Congratulations..i just caught up and read the entire thread.

    I'm glad it worked out for you:D
     
  31. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    Congrats!!
     
  32. RedStripey

    RedStripey Comrade

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    Congrats! You go girl!! I was reading this thread in the morning and said to myself "I bet she will get something soon." Which school ended up offering you the position? School E?
     
  33. RedStripey

    RedStripey Comrade

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    I know it doesn't matter now since you were offered a position elsewhere, but my friend was in the top 2 for a second grade classroom position and they turned her down in favor of the other person because she only ever taught third grade :confused:
     
  34. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Yep! And that wound up being my absolute favorite school out of all the schools I've been going to, so I'm incredibly happy.
     
  35. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    That's so great! I'm so glad it was your favorite school :D It was totally worth it to turn down that earlier position
     
  36. ahodge79

    ahodge79 Companion

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    I'm curious, did you send out all those mass mailings in addition to responding to the same districts postings on a job site?
     
  37. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    I'm so incredibly happy for you!!!! Congrats, congrats, congrats!!!! You truly put in some hard work and dedication into finding a job, you totally deserve it!!!
     
  38. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Congrats! You'll love 5th grade!!
     
  39. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    This is crazy. There's not that much of a difference between the 2 grades. It's not like it was jumping from kindergarten to 5th. Geez, what a silly reason not to hire someone.
     
  40. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Jun 26, 2014

    I have to hand it to you, MissD, this thread was a great read with a happy ending. Congrats. :thumb:
     
  41. RedStripey

    RedStripey Comrade

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    Right? I worked with both second and third graders this year and there wasn't much of a difference in curriculum at all. My instincts tell me that wasn't the real reason why she wasn't hired; I personally think some politics were in play.
     

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