By Teachers, For Teachers
It’s that time of year again. For the past month my school’s Next Generation Recruitment Committee has been meeting twice a week to offer New York City’s best and brightest “no leavers behinders” a chance to work at our public high school in the south Bronx.
Many are young, looking to make that big change and potentially write that Dangerous Minds-style screenplay, while others are veterans who haven’t found that special place where they can nest for the next twenty five years (or until their 55th birthday). That’s right, it’s interviewing season.
While I’m not terribly enthused about getting put on yet another committee and despite sometimes feeling like I’m the bullied Phyllis in The Office’s “Party Planning Committee,” (my principal’s first name is Angela), this process of greeting candidates, getting to know them for approximately fourteen and a half minutes, and then walking them back out the door does have its perks.
Teacher Interview Committee Perk # 1: Free Food!
Free pizza / Chinese / Subway and subsequent indigestion. The bosses buck up to reward our efforts and allow us to inhale bites of local neighborhood favorites in the three minute gaps between consecutive interviews. I didn’t actually have time to taste it, but I’m pretty sure it was good.
Perk # 2: Edu-Cliches
Attempting to create new - yet equally ridiculous - educational metaphors and cliches. Last week, instead of explaining to a potential science teacher, “we, in this building are real team players and because we’re a small, growing school, we have to wear a lot of different hats,” I said, “There are no ball hogs in this building. We buy our lottery tickets together. And because we’re a small, growing school, we cross-dress.” After the interviews my AP asked, “Did you call me a cross-dresser?”
Perk # 3: Student Role Play
Getting to call your boss obscenities including, “bitch ass cross dressin’ bird!” if one so chooses. The Next Generation Recruitment Committee enjoys creating role playing exercises for teaching candidates. We give them a math problem or a literary element to explain on the board and then we proceed to act like students, more often times than not, students with “behavior issues.” We later explain that we want to observe classroom management strategies, but deep down I think we just want to fool around for a while.
Personally, my role play tactic is to glare at a fellow committee member until they either start an argument or rat me out to the mock teacher. I then get to shout to the snitch whatever absurd jewel of profanity I can imagine at the moment – barring no friend or administrator.
Teacher Interview Committee Drawback: Guilt
There is one major drawback amid this myriad of perks and the sense of superiority that comes with judging people: the rejection guilt. At the end of a typical 8-10 candidate schedule, we only find one or two who we didn’t shoot down with the old, “Okay then. Thanks so much for coming in.” Being a softy who knows what it’s like not to be called back, I struggle with the rejections – even for those who come in wearing t-shirts and can’t come up with a single word to describe their teaching philosophy.
To mitigate the guilt, I tell myself that the city desperately needs teachers - they will find a job somewhere. In all probability, most will. This reality may soothe my tender heart between bites of General Tso’s Chicken, but ultimately both results from and perpetuates a hurting public educational system.
What's your experience as an interviewer or interviewee? Share in the comments section!