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I’d love to sign right now, but I promised my mother I would check with her first…

August 2, 2012 am31 12:32 am

Boys and girls, the consequences of ending up in the wrong school can be serious.

We have career-ending places. We have principals who overhire, so they can have the pick of who to discontinue. We have some who are poor managers, with the kids and staff paying for the chaos. We have more than a few who take advantage of untenured staff, and squeeze out of them mandatory “voluntary” per session, on evenings, weekends, and even into summer vacation. And we have seem who are plain mean.

But you need a job. You are new (regular certification, or teaching fellow), and need that first placement. Or you may be in your first or second year and need to transfer out of a disaster, and need someone to take you. But not every placement is ok.

Almost everyone interviewing you will seem smart. They will seem competent. They will seem reasonable. Partly, they make good first impressions. And partly, we all defer to authority – on the interview you are trying to impress this person, not judge them, and you may confer the respect you show to the position of authority onto the person who holds that position. There are monster principals who I know have made very positive first impressions.

So what to do? “Thank you so much. I feel like signing right now. But I promised my mom (my husband, my aunt, my priest, my pet fish) that I would check with them first. I am seeing him/her tomorrow night. Could I come back to sign in two days?”

Buy yourself the time.

And do due diligence.

Ask family. Friends. Ask me? Coworkers.

Read. See what teachers wrote about the principal in the Learning Environment Survey. Check Inside Schools. Search on line.

Once you sign that commitment, you’re in it for a year – if you make it that long. Please show some care. We want you to last.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2012 pm31 12:19 pm 12:19 pm

    Great advice. Does this mean you will be updating the DO NOT APPLY LIST ?
    If so please wait till after Monday…

  2. Anonymous permalink
    August 2, 2012 pm31 11:38 pm 11:38 pm

    I was a newbie last year. Desperate for a job and for awhile only charters and new schools could hire us. Ended up at a first year DOE school w a brand new principal and no history.
    It was a bad fit. Thankfully I received no Us and am starting at a different DOE school this year. I’m grateful that I was able to move on, my only sacrifice was having to give up time for my job search.

  3. August 3, 2012 am31 5:52 am 5:52 am

    You should do your due diligence BEFORE applying and interviewing, so you know enough about the school and the administration to feel ready to sign that day. I transferred schools last summer, but I read up on Inside Schools and asked someone from the staff what it’s like to work there. I signed right after the interview and couldn’t be happier at my new school.

    • August 5, 2012 pm31 12:40 pm 12:40 pm

      I think it’s great that you found a place you wanted to teach at.

      When I started teaching, there were about 15 regular high schools in the Bronx, 4 vocational, and a handful of others. Today there are well over 100. And if I didn’t have a perfect idea then (which I didn’t) I can understand how some teachers won’t know today.

      Doing the due diligence in advance is great, if you can. Many new and transferring teachers cannot.

      It is not uncommon for teachers to feel pressured to send out 20, 30, even 50 resumes. Not right, but reality.

  4. August 22, 2012 pm31 4:29 pm 4:29 pm

    my story…

    I was not tenured, it was my first year of teaching (in the Bronx, at a failing school) I graduated cum laude from Montclair State’s highly acclaimed teaching program about a year and a half ago. The Assistant Principal hired me, I have a very friendly and happy disposition, you know, the type that actually reaches the students. Anyway, from the first week the Principal had called me in his office to SCREAM at me about how he heard I “yes people.” I asked him what he meant and for specifics, none were given. Encounters like this continued throughout the first couple of months. I was not trained in Teachers College but was expected to know how to do it. Luckily, I was never shy enough to hound my team for help. And they helped a ridiculous amount. I had one unsatisfactory observation and one unsatisfactory observation by the beginning of May. He also gave me an unsatisfactory informal write up – this lesson was cross curricular – OOOHHH NOOOO, this was considered “all over the place.”

    My best friend, support system, new teacher across the hall and I had our last observation on June 7. We both received unsatisfactory ratings. On June 8, I believe, he called four teachers into his office, one at a time to tell them he was discontinuing our teaching licenses, “you will never teach in a NYC public school again, unless you take it up with the superintendent,” He barked at me. Yes, I had to return to class and teach for the rest of the day and the next 2.5 weeks. He ended calling the other 3 teachers into his office the following Monday to tell them they would not be discontinued, but would receive D’s for DOUBTFUL, as in he doubts there teaching abilities. The last day of school he handed me my rating sheet which had all 23 criteria marked as unsatisfactory, huh? really? How did I graduate college? How did I even get hired if I am truly this unsatisfactory. I attempted to send documentation to the superintendant, this included the copious amount of negative reviews about the Principal, emails from the Assistant Principal giving positive feedback on lesson plans and lessons (I was put on an action plan in January and planned every sunday with my colleague – the one who was not discontinued), letters of recommendation, and my personal documentation of my encounters with the Principal from September to December.

    Now, I wait for an appeal in the Spring. As far as I know, the union told me, 97% of teachers lose. Oh and the person that makes the final decision….THE SUPERINTENDENT. Some due process huh?

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