On Monday I received my excessing notice, which is the official and passive aggressive way of telling a school employee that they have been fired. Nonetheless, I also had my interview the same day in re-applying to the new school that will open up in my old school’s place. All school employees who re-apply to the new school are guaranteed an interview, so I knew this was coming up and I’ve been preparing for it for the past month. However, I’ve only been on four real interviews in my lifetime, my first with a Cornell University alumni recruiter which did not go well, the second with my first school in the Bronx, the third with the tutoring academy in Flushing that I teach at during the summer, and the last being my current position. I suppose a 75% success rate isn’t so bad, but my lack of interview experience gives me little confidence and makes me overly nervousness.
I spent all of last week and most of the past weekend preparing my teaching portfolio and running through interview questions and answers. I was pretty much ready with tons of professional teaching data, observation reports, letters of recommendation, model lesson plans and activities, and copies of student work in my portfolio, but what was holding me up was my philosophy of education. I have never had to write one, so thinking about why and how I teach and articulating it on paper was quite the weekend task. I finished it the night before, but I wasn’t satisfied.
Nonetheless, I went in Monday morning with what I had put together and rehearsed. The setup was a five-person committee comprised of the new Principal, two DOE officials to support the Principal, and two UFT representatives to make sure the interviews and hiring process is fair. Very intimidating, but it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated because I was simply given five questions to answer, four minutes each, with no responses. I just had to talk and use my teaching portfolio as much as I could without the panel questioning what I was saying or having me elaborate further. It was a bit weird for myself, the interviewee, to sort of direct the conversation to whatever I wanted the panel to know about myself. And I didn’t know that I could talk so much, so quickly in a span of four minutes.
What was also interesting at the end was that the Principal asked if there was anything in my portfolio that I wanted to highlight. I could have and possibly should have showed my high regents passing percentage rate or letters of recommendation from my supervisors, but I instead chose to tell the truth about my philosophy of education statement. What was bothering me to the core about my statement was the reason why I teach. I premised the five-person panel by stating that I wasn’t sure if this was appropriate, and that’s why I hesitated in writing it in my statement, but I proceeded to briefly tell the group that I teach because I am a Christian and follower of Christ. That the real reason of why I pursued a teaching career is to serve and love others, and everything that I’ve accomplished in my career and documented in my portfolio is by the grace of God. I informed them that I know this isn’t about religion, but I wanted to convey that this is who I am and what motivates me to serve my students well.
I was quite surprised at my boldness, but thankful that I spoke up and said what I said, confident that the good Lord will provide for my family either way.