a/k/a So Beggars Can Be Choosers?
My work life has never seen so much upheaval. I have resigned my current district, effective the end of the school year, but until my fiancée finds her first post-grad job, I won’t know my next postal code, much less if the schools there have openings for lanky math teachers.
These circumstances, which include budget cuts and statewide layoffs
As much to reckon my own thoughts as to assist other job-seekers, in descending order of importance, my employment criteria are:
- a faculty which sees student failure as clear indication of school failure. I want to work with people whose first reaction to below-average common assessment results is, “how can I learn from my colleagues?” not, “the assessment was invalid because I’m pretty sure I know a little something about teaching.”
- a district-level professional development department. My small district has been so great in so many ways, but I have missed delirious fun like this for far too long.
- block scheduling. I’m not sure I can go back to the rapid rhythm of hour-long classes.
- a math department stocked with teachers young, old, and everywhere in between. The next youngest teacher in my current department is fifteen years my senior with two kids. I dig all my coworkers but, in many ways, we don’t relate.
- a central math office to better connect with my coworkers.
- autonomy in how I assess my students. Because of this, I mean.
- a homeroom/advisory period, which my school is instating just as I resign.
- veterans who step up and take the tough preps for new teachers. This isn’t self-serving. Lump me into the veterans and give me three preps, fine, but I want to work with people who treat new teachers better than an expendable, renewable commodity, who understand the most remedial classes need the best teachers.
- a deep paper budget. Not because I’m huge on handouts, but because I assess constantly and write much of my own curriculum.
- differentiated algebra, with placement determined by more than a middle school teacher’s impression of a student’s ability, a subjective measurement which shamefully shoehorned some brilliant students (however averse to homework) into my remedial math this year.
- regular articulation with feeder middle schools, so we can tell them to teach fractions better so they can tell their feeder elementary schools to teach fractions better.
- software for analyzing student achievement data.
- a digital projector.
- regular, district-sponsored time for department collaboration.
- my own room.
- a salsa bar in the cafeteria.
- 1:1 laptops.
There are distractions, of course. I need a job where I live and die by the strength of my work. Teaching is not that job but it has too much yet to teach me to leave it. As long as I am a teacher, then, and until further notice, this is the list by which I judge all applicants.
What have I forgotten? What have I misprioritized?