Whether I had wanted to or not, I interviewed for summer school today.

How did it go?

For a metaphor, imagine: romantic date, with candles alight and mood set. Across the mother’s-best linen tablecloth, the prettiest girl you’d ever hope to woo. Things get off to a rocky start.

I’m not sure what to say, because I realize there are very specific things she wants to hear. I’m nervous and unsure. After what seems like a year, my mind is frozen, still. I say the first honest thought that pops into my head.

“You look like someone who likes donuts.”

That was my summer school interview today. It was a living, breathing faux pas. I never know how to say what I want when I want to say it.

I’m still kicking myself over it — hence the comparison to a date.

He had asked something about whether or not I would be interested in teaching freshman English, my only NCLB-compliant backup qualification. My journalism degree qualifies me to teach up until ninth grade.

“I’d probably end up teaching with an emphasis on actually writing and writing well, because that’s what my training has been.”

Cue the raised eyebrow.

“As a new teacher, we’ll give you the curriculum. There is literature you will have to teach. You can throw in a little of your own thing here and there, but for the most part, we’ll have it spelled out for you.”

Strike one. I almost salvaged it with a “Then, I have no reservations about teaching freshman English” followed by some variation on “That’s great, I hadn’t thought of that” but the damage had been done.

I had mentioned that I had also taught government last semester.

“The last time we hired a new teacher who had only taught government, she really wasn’t prepared to handle remedial-level sophomores.”

Strike two. I turned the conversation back to my experience in other subjects.

“My preference will be to teach the U.S. history, though. That’ll give me experience teaching the one subject I didn’t get a chance to teach.” It helps that last summer’s U.S. history teacher has 2-year-old twins and decided to take the summer off.

Here’s to a home run and not a third strike.

Moral of the story? Keep your trap shut — the little asides and quips do more harm than good, as you’ll simply look and sound less confident.


  1. dkzody

    Yes, sounds very much like a Fresno Unified interview. Think of this as good prep for when you interview for a permanent position. You learned what NOT to say, now you can practice what you SHOULD say. You must stick to the script.

  2. So much for you eyeing tenure… 😉

  3. Upfront honesty isn’t the best policy, it seems. Sigh.

  4. I’ve been interviewing for teaching jobs, too. Question: Did you tell them about your blog? If you did, did it help or hurt? I listed my website on my resume because I thought it was an asset since schools are looking for teachers with tech skills, yet I was asked by three administrators (during interviews) if I was a ‘spammer’. I said no and explained that I spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on my website and that if I was a spammer I’d be kick off the four major search engines. Not even a pro can fool all four of them. After answering the question several times in a nice way, a bit of sternness arose in my voice. Needless, to say, I was offered the opportunity to be a ‘substitute’. I need to practice a Zen mantra before the next interview, which might just be with Wal-Mart. Believe me, I feel your pain and I did a lot worse.

  5. For now, I’m trying to keep my Web site anonymous, so I can discuss perhaps controversial viewpoints without fear of not getting hired — or not getting my contract renewed — because of it. My idle wonderings have a tendency to backfire.

    For the time being, I’m making it so that a routine Google search on my name doesn’t give anyone a link to this site.

  1. 1 Listless « On the Tenure Track

    […] is, this list is the list for new hires at summer school. Despite my amateurish lobbying, I’ve heard that I’ll be at the top of this list, mostly thanks to the expert lobbying […]

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