August 15, 2013

My Teacher Story Linky

Today I am linking up with Carrie at Being Ladylike to share the story of how I first came to the classroom! 

 Here's the story of how I landed in my first teaching job and how I ended up in the job I have today.  I student taught during the fall of my senior year in a fourth grade class in central Illinois near Illinois Wesleyan, the liberal arts college I was attending.  I had originally wanted to teach second or third grade, but after my first day in fourth grade, I was completely hooked.  I knew this was the grade for me!  Student teaching was an amazing experience for me and was truly one of the highlights of college.  I finished student teaching and felt 100% prepared to embark on my first teaching job.
My Student Teaching Classroom

LOVED student teaching!

In the spring of 2009, I was finishing my last semester in college and frantically applying for teaching jobs anywhere within a 1 hour drive of my parents' house in the Chicago suburbs.  I would open Google Maps in one side of my screen, zoom into the Chicago area, and look for names of different suburbs.  In the other side of the screen, I would google the suburbs to find their school districts then record them in a spreadsheet of "districts to apply."  That spreadsheet got pretty lengthy!!  I remember sitting at my favorite coffee house with another ed major friend and filling out application after application.  Exhausting!
My fellow ed majors and I attended a few job fairs, waiting in loooong lines to give our resumes to predominantly disinterested HR reps, answer a few screening questions, and be told that their districts had "no openings."  In my experience, the job fairs were a gigantic waste of time!  I don't know anyone who was actually hired at one, but maybe other fairs were different than the ones I attended.  In March, I got called by a school district two towns over from my home town and was asked to set up a screening interview.  I was so nervous when I showed up!  This interview was pretty intimidating--two principals asked me a series of about 40 rapid-fire questions with minimal time in between.  When I asked a clarification question about one, they responded that they could only repeat the question without providing any other information.  Yikes!!  I remember walking out with absolutely no clue as to how I'd done!  A few weeks later, though, I got a letter saying that I'd passed the screening and would be added to their "preferred applicant pool."  Step 1 complete!

In mid April, I got a call for my first building interview at a school in that district.  I interviewed there twice before they ended up hiring a student teacher from the building, but the good news is that the principal passed my name along to two other principals in the district.  I interviewed at both the same day the next week--the first went decently, and the second was a complete TRAINWRECK.  They had asked me to come in and teach a lesson COLD to a group of *rowdy* 5th graders.  After that, we did a panel interview.  By that point I was so exhausted by the frustrating lesson that I rushed through the interview, talking a mile a minute, just trying to get it done because I was sure I wasn't getting this job.  That afternoon, the first school called me and said they were hiring someone else, and I was a little bummed out as I was sure that if I were to get one of the jobs it would be that one.  Lo and behold though, that night I missed a call and had a voicemail waiting for me from school #2, the interview I bombed.  They were offering me a job!  I needed some time to think about it because I had also applied to the Peace Corps at the time, but a few days later I accepted my first job teaching 5th grade.  Phew!
Thanks Mom & Dad!

Me & Katy, my ed major BFF

I graduated two weeks later with a secure job, ready to take on my first year teaching.
My first bulletin board :)

 My first year was all sorts of awful, but I made it through and things got waaaay better.  That is, until they were not so great anymore.  I taught in that position for three years before we got a new principal who cleaned house and RIFed a few non-tenured teachers.  I was devastated at the time, but in the end everything worked out better than I could have hoped.  
My boxed-up 5th grade classroom...onto the next adventure!
Time to dust off that interview suit...
I had originally thought that I would take this fresh start as an opportunity to look for jobs out of state, but in April I interviewed for a position at a school in our district teachig 3/4 multiage, my DREAM age group.  The principal who had originally hired me had moved to that building, and when he offered me the position, it just felt right.  Last year I made my debut as a 3rd/4th teacher, and the year was a breath of fresh air after teaching 5th grade at my challenging first school, and I finished the year knowing that everything had happened for a reason.  I'm pumped to be in the same position this year!
My 3/4 classroom :)
Link up with Carrie to share your teacher story!


  1. Wow! Our stories are so similar and that is really something neat to find out, since at the time I felt like I was the only one that no one wanted to hire. Well, that and bombing interviews and feeling like a trainwreck afterwards (and during really). Thanks for sharing! And I love seeing the student teaching pictures too and how far you have come. Yeah!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. Where I live it is still very tight. I feel like the only people who even get to the interview stage are people who already have contract experience behind them. I keep thinking it has to loosen up at some point. Stories like yours give me hope!

  3. Jennifer...head over to my blog to read my story and feel free to link up too!


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