A Teacher's (rant) Experience

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A Teacher's (rant) Experience

Submitted: June 13, 2014

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Submitted: June 13, 2014

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A Teacher's (rant) Experience

 

I surrender. My mindset has always been “Never quit, never surrender.” Everything I have attempted in my life I have accomplished masterfully. When faced with problems, adversities, or hardships I have always manned up, planted my feet, and worked relentlessly to achieve what I had wanted to achieve. My daily approach to life is to constantly improve. For years I have always kept my daily thoughts and actions geared toward improving myself, improving my situation, improving my relationships, and empowering those around me to accomplish the things they want to accomplish. My charisma and personality seem to draw people toward me. The enthusiasm I display towards the things I am passionate about is contagious. I have never accepted surrender, ever. I have a strong mind, an open heart, an undeniable work ethic and passion for what I do…oh, and I have a Bachelor of Science in Education Degree.

 

Time and time again I have focused my thoughts and efforts on becoming the most effective, outstanding, and motivational teacher that I could be. My education, effort, and commitment had been focused on student achievement via researched based teaching methods and a strong understanding of student learning. My experiences have showed my substantial growth with every week of teaching I was afforded.  Not a day went by that I didn’t dream of having my own classroom for more than a few months. Every day I would imagine what it would be like to design my teaching space, create useful learning tools, and provide an educational experience unmatched by many teachers. My instinct has always told me that I would be the best at whatever I deem worthy of my best efforts. This used to apply to my teaching. I know I would have been a top notch teacher. I know it. However, with budget cuts, teachers being labeled “underworked and overpaid,” and responsibilities of parents being placed on teachers without mercy, I find that entering in to the teaching world can be a very negative experience. Remember though, I have commitment and enthusiasm for this profession. I can overcome these hurtles and persevere through to the ranks of the outstanding teacher. Telling myself this usually calms my frustrations and renews my optimistic outlook for my future as an educator.

 

The world of education is filled with empty promises and false personas from every direction. Even the most mindful and meticulous thinkers in the teaching world can, and will, fall prey to these glimmers of hope surrounded by false senses of security and trust while still in college or on the job hunt. It is easy for an employer, or professor for that matter, to spout off statistics of job placement opportunities, salary schedules, and upcoming vacancies and retirements. They mean nothing. I repeat, they mean nothing.

 

During a teacher training program, you often have people ask you “Why do you want to teach?” or “You know teachers don’t make that much money, right?” Often times a teacher in training will respond with some off-the-wall statistic they heard a professor say, or one that they read on the promotional pamphlet for their program. “I know it’s not the best money, but I can help kids and the job placement is 98.9%” would be a common answer. Also, “If you enjoy what you are doing, you never really work a day in your life!” Now, even as optimistic as I was during my training, I have always taken them with a grain of salt… a large grain of salt. I am a realist to a degree, and I knew that promoting your program is of upmost importance to teachers at any level to have some job security.

 

 

 

 

As stated earlier, the most mindful and meticulous thinkers in the teaching world can, and will, fall prey to these glimmers of hope at some point. Throughout your teacher training you believe in the end result. You grasp these glimmers of hope with both hands and have 100% intention of holding them close to remind yourself of how great it will be to finally get that dream classroom in your dream school district.

 

Now why am I saying this? What does this have to do with my disorganized rant about teachers and everything else? Well the fact of the matter is, as with most everything concerning money and jobs, politics rule the world. They rule the financial world, the professional sports world, and more importantly, to me anyways, they definitely rule the public education world. Oh the things no one talks to you about while you spend thousands of dollars to become a teacher and “impact students in a positive and meaningful way” as many of us would have liked to do. Well I may be alone in my beliefs and I’m sure that there will be people that disagree with this “rant,” however I am equally as sure that there are people out there that can relate just the same.

 

“So politics is your big qualm, ay?” Yes. It is one of them anyway. My frustration and the underlying reason for this rant is based around the poor job market that all of us teachers get thrown into with a student loan bill and a pat on the ass. Teaching opportunities frequently aligns with politics, plain and simple. The “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” train of thought is a reality in many teaching opportunities.

 

In my experience, people tend to generalize the word “politics” with a government figure that initiates programs, budgets money, and is the face of a particular area or group. What’s close to my train of thought right now is that these politicians ultimately make decisions that change the playing field for job seekers in some way. Any teaching professional in the state of Pennsylvania is most likely familiar with certain politicians that have had an immense impact on the public education system in this state. To avoid throwing any specific names out there, let’s just call our mainstream politician “Gov. Dom Jorbette.”

 

The reality is, or I guess my reality is, the world of politics in the public education system is heavily influenced by the decisions of, let’s say, Gov. Dom Jorbette. I will not divulge in to the details of how these mainstream politicians influence the education system, as many of you probably can fill in the blanks yourselves. My rant is more focused on how the network of people within individual schools and groups of schools affect these great teachers that are hungry to make a difference in students’ lives. Let us look at a scenario.

 

So let’s assume that a young male teacher, around 23 years old, has been actively and aggressively on the job hunt for over a year now. After many let downs and a seemingly endless array of interviews, this enthusiastic young teacher knows that something will give. Day after day, week after week, he perfects his interview presence. He meticulously critiques and alters his resume. The portfolio he presents to each school district is tailor made for that particular school. He researches each district extensively before each interview to prepare. Countless hours every week are committed to the improvement of his overall ability to interview and land that perfect teaching job. He improves with each outing, but the phone still isn’t ringing with job offers.

 

He devotes a large amount of time and energy in to his current teaching position. A position that he had envisioned just one year earlier, and had come ever so close to attaining. With knowledge of the opportunities that lie ahead, he works tirelessly knowing that his work will pay off. Everyone is pleased with his performance, yet there is still no offer. The position is there, but no one will give him the nudge on the shoulder to assure him that he will be in that position next year. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” he tells himself. So with this saying in mind, he searches and applies to many different places with the hope of a concrete opportunity. Sure enough, it happens. An opportunity where he would fit in like a glove arises, and he aims his focus on attaining this position. Fast forward. The first interview went well as he knew it would, with the exception of the final question. He was asked about his “ties” to a school district he has previously worked at, the one where everyone was pleased with his performance and still will not give him the reassurance he needs for him to commit himself to that position. He answers truthfully, but makes it very clear that he has no reservations for any school district that can’t guarantee him a job. The interviewers smile and aggressively take notes on his response to this question more than any question prior.

 

“Nailed it!” he tells himself. Then, sure enough, he gets the call for a second interview. He knows it is him and another great candidate that is a year younger than him. It’s in his hands, he can feel it. He knows that he has the ability and experience to back him in this final interview. He shows up to the second interview, calm, cool, collected, and immensely prepared to wow the panel. On his drive home he reflects on his performance. “I couldn’t have possibly performed any better” he tells himself. The light at the end of the tunnel begins to appear and he visualizes the phone call that he truly believes is going to come his way. Eager to tell his loved ones of the experience and the feeling he has in his gut, he makes his phone calls. Within hours of what he thought to be his best interviewing performance to date, the other candidate informs him that they, in fact, were just offered the job.

 

Now being a graceful and level headed person, he congratulates the candidate selected for the position and wishes them the best. All the while, he thinks to himself “This can’t be right.” In the words of Kai Greene “I’m just waiting for what I ordered, this is not what I ordered.” He begins to spiral deep in to his own mind to try to understand the reason for this outcome. Analyzing every aspect of the process from the first phone call to shaking hands with board members at the end of the final interview, he cannot seem to identify a single reason why he was not offered the position.

 

It the midst of self doubt and relentless questioning, certain things began to come to light. He recalls the fact that the selected candidate received a phone call early in the morning, while he received his in the late afternoon. Also, he comes to question the motive behind the interviewing panel asking him about his ties to the other school district. Questions start to fill his mind with how this could have possibly affected the outcome of his interview. “Did the school where I have worked at tell the interviewing school not to select me?” “Is it possible they want me to work in their school so they voiced it to their close friend on the interview panel?” 

 

I don’t know. There’s no way of really knowing. All I can say is, I do understand the interviewing school’s decision if it is based on my theory that the other school called first dibs. In my mind, the interviewing school was worried that he would leave them high and dry to go to the other school if the opportunity presented itself. He wouldn’t have, just for the record. But he knows that he could have had that job, and he wholeheartedly believes that he wasn’t selected because of the relationship between the interviewing school and the other school. If that is or is not the case, he still tips his hat to the selected candidate for their accomplishment.

 

 

 

If you haven’t made the connection by now, the entire “scenario” I have just went through was about my most recent experience, and honestly the underlying reason for this entire rant. I’m not bitter. I am not holding a grudge over the whole thing. I truly wish the best to the selected candidate. I will continue my journey gracefully. As for the scenario itself, my feelings are mixed. On one hand, I view the whole thing as a positive and try to convince myself that I will attain a position at the dream school where I have put tireless effort in to making a name for myself. On the other hand, nothing is guaranteed. The whole interview process at said school is not a single person’s decision. Therefore my frustration (and my main reason for getting this rant off my chest) boils down to two things: 1. The interviewing school knew the entire time that I would not be offered the position, but drug me through the process anyways. Or 2. The faculty member, with good intentions, wants me in the school district I have worked in. My frustration with scenario 2 is that no single person can definitely have the final decision in hiring a new teacher, so in essence I could have potentially lost a job opportunity for a “maybe.”

 

Take what you want from my rant. It is all speculation anyways. I am not a writer, and I never do stuff like spill my guts into a Microsoft Word document. It felt right for me at this point in time.

 

I would like to say that this rant, most likely, makes no sense to anyone but myself, and that’s fine. Maybe I’m just bitching, or maybe I had a need to have a “bitch session” as my former professor would have called it. I am still optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead, and I will continue working to see my dream realized. “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can succeed.”

 

Now I know that many teachers that read this will have rebuttals to a lot of the things that I have said. That’s fine. They might even show me research that proves my views wrong. That’s fine also. The whole point of this rant was to collect my thoughts and feelings in a constructive way, and I didn’t do it to shed light on factual information. So please, if you have a negative response or a “This is where you’re wrong, blah blah blah” comment, shut up. I don’t want to hear it. I did this for me, not you. You will not receive a response from me. I also know that I am sure to hear at least ten times “Well you know that there are plenty of opportunities down south.” Yes I know that. But I also know that I bought a house in Pennsylvania knowing that it would limit the job opportunities, and I’m 100% comfortable with that.

 

For my final thoughts, and the fact that my Rockstar drink is wearing off, I would like to thank anyone who took the time to read this. I feel better, and that was what I had aimed to do. Also, after re-reading this post I have realized that there are pieces of my rant that I never got around to elaborating on. Let’s just say that I’m running out of steam with this writing, and I fully acknowledge the fact that my rant is scatterbrained, incomplete, and lacking structure on every level. Oh well, that’s the nature of the beast I guess. All I can say is this: Just like running out of steam with this writing, I am running out of steam with trying to secure a position as a public educator. I won’t surrender, yet. I will stay on my path and perform at an even higher level for the opportunities I see in the horizon. However, if nothing is to come of these efforts by the time I reach the other side of the horizon, the probability of me focusing my efforts on something else entirely is extremely likely. This is not to say I don’t love teaching. It is to say that I have other things that I would consider myself to be more passionate about and likely to pursue if I find that teaching is not a good fit for me. This could be a good thing. I won’t know until I get there. But I do know one thing; I will be the best at whatever I end up deciding to do. No question.

 

 

Ryan Rice

6/13/2014

 


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