At this point, I was hoping to be able to reflect on leaving the profession having trained a replacement that I felt could carry on reasonably well. Unfortunately, due to economic conditions, that is not the case. I still have a house to sell so that I can retire and live on what I will make. I am not bitter about it however; just disappointed. I can still look back over the year and see what has happened and what will probably happen at my own school and others.
We are now in the midst of the great staffing shuffle/debacle/whatever. Teachers leave every year--that is a fact of life. They go back to school, get married, retire, get fed-up, want a change of scenery and on and on. So from about the end of April until the beginning of the new year, there is a competition for the best of the crop of new teachers or transfers from other schools. Over the past five years, I have had the glorious pleasure of doing interviewing for these positions along with a couple of my co-department heads. Some years we are allowed to directly hire; others, just take resumes. I always find it to be an interesting experience but this year it has just been depressing. The system is closing down several schools and the staff at those schools have to find a new position on their own. I have seen people who have been productive and effective instructors for 15-20 years who now have no clue where they will be working next year. In previous administrations, they would have been assigned to schools and teachers with less seniority would have been surplussed but not this year. I don't know exactly why but seniority appears to no longer count for much. This causes another problem in that most of these senior teachers don't want to go back into the more challenging classrooms for many reasons--some valid; some not. I honestly can't totally blame them. They have worked hard to perfect what they do and sometimes their training precludes them from teaching the lower level classes. They have specialized (as we all were encouraged to do) and now they are suddenly obsolete. Add to this mix, a large group of good quality foreign-born teachers who have been recruited over the past few years and a group of career-changing teachers that have already been contracted for and you have a group of teachers too large to fill the few positions that are actually available. My school has a few positions available but not the number that we normally do and a couple of them are specialized and will be hard to fill even with the number of candidates out there.
To that end, let me share some tips for getting a job at my school at any rate. I don't know if all people interview like this but it works for us. I like to read the resumes; of course, I want to know the training and experience the person brings to the table. But I am looking for the "spark" and, no, I can't quantify it exactly. I know it when I see it. The people who come to the interview with the "I am the best you will ever see" attitude don't have it. People who act like they are doing us a favor by interviewing don't have it. People who can't tell me why they want to teach usually don't have it. Now don't get me wrong. I have had people tell me that they are now going into teaching because there are jobs in the field. Those folks don't bother me; they are honest. They also had usually considered being a teacher before and it is not a totally stop-gap position for them. This round of interviews have given me far more of the no-spark people. Maybe it has to do with all of the turmoil in the job situations in the system; I don't know but the "spark" people are few and far between.
I am off for today. I am enjoying the three-day weekend as I have been swamped with senior activities and I am in need of extra rest. Hope everyone's weekend is restful and relaxing.