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 layoffs1, would find 21-yo Dan beneath a desk clutching his knees but 25-yo Dan is somewhat enamored of the chaos. Moreover, due to an admixture of experience and arrogance, for the first time in my employment history, I will be interviewing my employers.
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?