Posted by: emilyrfarrell | August 14, 2012

Next Chapter.

So despite the fact that I haven’t written anything substantial in probably close to a year, I’m starting this back up to document the happenings of a first year teacher, that teacher being me. I recently was hired in a district near Washington D.C. to be an elementary/vocal music teacher at one of the hundreds of schools in this district. I’m not going to say which district, for know reason other than to be very careful. I would never say anything bad about my employer or the students there but protecting both their identity and mine seems important. Here I will post the happenings of a first year teacher from point of hire till the final bell.

Part of the Process

I spent my summer after graduation working full time as a summer intern in a for a company near my house. It was a pretty good job but it was stressful applying for teaching jobs while working that much. That being said, I did apply. Maybe not as much as I would like, or my parents would have liked for that matter, but I did consistently apply to jobs. Last count, I applied for about 30 jobs. Not including the ones my mother began applying to for me, which probably not totally okay, but I didn’t get any of those jobs so no harm no fowl. I had eight interviews this summer, all of them through Skype. Living in the middle of nowhere and applying to jobs around the country meant that I really couldn’t go everywhere for a first interview. The interviews were the hardest part for me. I worked hard to get the interviews, I got super excited that I had one, and then it went nowhere. It was beyond frustrating. I don’t know why I thought it would be easy but it was anything but. My dad has been an creative/artistic director for various companies since before I was born and he is somewhat of an expert at finding jobs. He told me that even in the best situation you only have a 50/50 chance of getting a job. This really humbled me and quite frankly made rejection a whole lot easier. Well, not a whole lot.

Getting the Job

So when I got an interview with my current school district I was kind of shocked. This was a school I had talked to while I was still in college and then didn’t hear from them until 3 weeks ago. That’s right, 3 weeks ago. It’s been a whirlwind. The interview process was typical. They asked me my classroom management style, how I would go about arranging a choral concert in the winter and spring, what kind of repertoire I would pick, my teaching style, and how I would define diversity. They also had me teach a short lesson using a children’s song. Throughout the interview, however, I had a feeling things were not going well. I wasn’t answering the questions to the best of my abilities and I got a little flustered at one point. So I did something not to normal. I sent them an e-mail rehashing some of the answers I gave. Here is what I sent:

 I just wanted to make a few clarifications with what I said during the interview. I’m not always the most articulate when I’m speaking right of the top of my head, which is the main reason I always have a lesson plan, so I feel as if I may have said some things that were not intentional.

First and foremost, diversity to me is an acceptance of culture with out calling extra attention to it. For me as a teacher, it means that I teach world music not because I have students in my class from different cultures, but because we are all Americans and those cultures created the one we have today. I think it is important to unite a classroom and accept differences and appreciate them but not make them the most important factor. I may be Irish, but I’m an American first and I can connect with every student through that banner.

Also, when it comes to winter program, while I think it is necessary to at least address holidays like Christmas and Channukah, I’m afraid that I made it sound like that is what I would build a winter concert around, which is not the case. Like in the classroom, I think a winter concert is a place to embrace world music and culture. When I discussed the use of “classical” music, I really meant traditional. There are thousands of winter songs that are easily accessible to children that come from all around the world. When I taught for a camp, a big part of my lessons were teaching students holidays and songs from different countries. I also would embrace the season as well as the celebration, as there are many wonderful songs about it just being winter.

I realize you may not have the extra time for this, I just wanted to make sure my flustered ramblings were not misconstrued. As the oldest of five kids, I have been “teaching” since I can remember. I have always had a passion for teaching music, to any age level, and am excited for the opportunity to start that love of music from an early age with the elementary students in your district. Thank you again for your time today and have a wonderful rest of the week.

So probably not my finest work, but it did the job. I got a job in the district later that day. Crazy right? While I had a job in the district, I had to get a job in a specific school. I thought this meant that I still had to interview to be part of the district. Not true. I had a job in the district, I just had to find a place that would take me. And I found a place! I am teaching the younger kids, like age 3, pre-K, and so forth. I will be a cart teacher, which is cool. This is pretty much what I wanted to cover for this post. More to come soon.

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