Friday, July 24, 2009

Today's Story

Over at Gotham Schools, blogger Ruben Brosbe documented his job search after having been excessed. It took Ruben a few weeks to find a job, but he did. I'm happy for him, and I'm glad the "open market" system worked so well for him. As a beginning teacher, I was excessed four times, and there was no such system available to me.

The first time I was excessed, there was a teacher shortage so severe I was sent immediately to another school. The next time, however, I was not so lucky. I put on a suit and introduced myself to what seemed like every AP in the borough of Queens (I was tired of driving over that bridge to the Bronx every day).

I was certified to teach English, so English departments were always my first stop. In fact I'd just registered to begin an MA in English, but hadn't yet paid the tuition. Not having a job, and not anticipating any income, I never took the classes.

I eventually found a job teaching special ed. My supervisor signed an agreement stating I would teach only English, and 15 minutes later assigned me to teach math and music. It was remarkable that I found a job at all. When I went to the district office, the woman in charge showed me a room full of tenured teachers and explained that each one of them would need to be placed before she could even consider me. The UFT said they were really sorry, but that I'd be glad when I had some seniority--at that point I'd be placed immediately.

That's no longer the case. A new teacher like Ruben can easily find a job, but with all my experience, with certification in three areas, and with over 20 years of excellent assessments, I'd be stuck in the ATR pool forever. I get emails from ATRs telling what their job searches are like, and they're not nearly as neat and clean as Ruben's. They don't have the luxury of critiquing interview questions because they simply do not get interviews.

I didn't have that luxury either. I took whatever I could find. I was fortunate in that my next supervisor assigned me to teach ESL, which I loved doing. I was glad to change directions and take an MA in my new area--an area in which teachers were sorely needed.

When I was in Ruben's situation no one would help me because I was a new teacher. If, God forbid, I'm ever in his situation again, no one will help me because I'm an experienced teacher. Regrettably, I'm no longer a cute 20-something and my salary now works against me. While I was able to circumvent the system and help myself in the past, I don't think I could do it now.

It's all timing, I suppose, and clearly Ruben's is better than mine.
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