What a question!
I walked out at lunch the other day to talk to one of my assistant principals (we have four), and after our short discussion about my concern, he started this conversation:
“You’re doing a great job with everything. Are you happy here?”
“Todd, I’m not the most emotional person, but let me say that this is the best job I’ve ever had. I am extremely happy.”
“Good. That’s good to hear. We don’t ever want you to leave.”
The Job Jackpot
This is the third district I’ve worked in since I started teaching in 2010. Which, by the way, was probably one of the worst years to start teaching. There were so few jobs, and so many applicants…that first summer I didn’t have a single interview, but thankfully the district in which I student taught brought me back as a long-term sub. The next year I had two interviews. The year after that, maybe two or three. And believe me, I was the queen of applications. I finally got hired full time out of the area, so I moved, and got some good experience on my resume before deciding to make the move back to my home, Southern California.
I had two conditions when deciding to move back (over 800 miles, so it was a big one): I would not take a temporary position, and I only wanted to teach high school. I applied to about 12 open positions, and got six, SIX interviews. What a difference five years makes!
I went to the first two, actually, the first one, and thought I had it in the bag. Nope.
Second, totally wasn’t a good fit, and I think both the panel and I knew it.
Third, well, let’s just say when I walked in the office, my only thought was, “Boy, would I like to work here.” When I got into the interview, a panel of five, plus three candidates, I pulled out my notebook (as per usual), and the principal promptly asked me to put it away. They did not allow any candidates to have materials in front of them during the interview. I felt like a dummy, and then my next thought was, “I blew it!”
The interview wasn’t my best (at least I didn’t think so…), and I left feeling just OK about it. I was still living out of the area, but staying with my mom at the time, so I was kind of just biding my time until the next interview. I went to look at a couple of apartments, and then went to the beach. This was a Friday, so I didn’t expect to hear until Monday.
Saturday the phone rang with the school number. I almost forgot how to answer the phone. I had really liked the principal and the rest of the panel, especially the athletic director who laughed at my story about coaching middle school volleyball.
I answered it, and it was the principal! What?
He said, “Hi Noelle, this is not an official offer, but I can’t seem to get a hold of your references.”
I told him I’d get on it, and let him know when I’d made contact.
I knew that there were three positions at the school, but only one was probationary, so as excited as I was, I knew I’d have to wait until Monday to hear from HR. I did tell my mom, though, since you know, she was probably listening to my phone call.
I got the official offer on Monday, and I hate to admit this, but before I said yes, I said, “I need to know if this is a temporary spot, or if I got the probationary contract.”
“You’re the lucky one. You got the prob spot.”
Well, if that wasn’t the best news!
Expectations vs. Reality
I guess you never really know what you’re walking into until you really walk into it. The first week of school was actually so easy and fun, but I didn’t let myself get too worked up about it.
After a few weeks, when you start to figure out how things work at a new site, you start to observe who does what job, and if that job gets done well or not, etc., etc.
And wouldn’t you believe it? Everywhere I looked, went, everything I inquired about from tech to custodial, it got done within a day. One time, I had a five-minute turnaround on a leak in my air conditioning unit. FIVE MINUTES.
I am not even kidding. So what, right? I mean, how much does all that peripheral stuff matter in the day-to-day when there are 150 kids who need you for a million different things. Oh, it matters. It matters that at a school with 2,600 students, over 100 teachers, five administrators, six counselors…the list goes on…that everyone has a job to do and they actually do it.
I’ve been in the “our teachers wear many hats” school. It’s taxing. More than you realize until you have no option to say no, ever.
The Happy Ending
The truth is, it’s so important for me to work in a healthy, functioning school. All those little gears and mechanisms that turn together to get stuff done on a daily basis, all of those dedicated faculty members who selflessly give to the kids, all the staff that runs the offices, security, and facilities, all of it together make for a positive work environment for the grownups and the students.
It’s the first time I’ve worked in a place like this, and it will be the last place I work.
So, yeah, Todd, don’t worry. I’m sticking around.