Black Male Teacher: Part 2: The Search

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The Present

“It took me nearly four years until I was able to lock down my first full time teaching gig.” – Anonymous Classroom Teacher

Whenever I have too much time to think about this job search process those are the words that echo in my head. I know that this could take awhile. And most of it is out of my control.

Two weeks ago I started applying for teaching positions. Since then I’ve only received one reply and that was just a courtesy call to inform me that I didn’t get the job. It lasted all of two minutes and I’m sure that it would have been cut down to 45 seconds had I not taken the time to ask a few questions and attach the proverbial “Thank you for your time and consideration.” This is my current reality.

A few months (or possibly years) from now there are only two things that I know for sure: 1) Several schools are going to be kicking themselves in the butt for passing over me, and 2) I’m going to be kicking myself in the butt for making it easy for them to do so.

Welcome to the workforce crapshoot.

 

Missteps: A Brief History of Failing

I would be remissed if I placed my job search setbacks on anything outside of my personal missteps and a succession of unfavorable circumstances that were in progress way before I even enrolled in classes last spring.

From the day that I enrolled in classes, I knew that upon completion of the program I would be looking for a job. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. I knew that the job process had been revised in a particularly complex way. Everything was moving towards an online system. Gone were the days when you could walk into a stranger’s office unannounced and get an impromptu interview. Employers were too busy. Secondly, many of the people who were in charge were survivors of the old regime. They got most of their jobs through referrals and forging personal connections. They knew that a list of accolades could only tell you so much about a person’s character and in some ways could be a bit misleading. In some cases, they knew how to work around those issues to get whom they wanted. With others, they knew how to analyze documents to eliminate the candidates that didn’t fit their criteria. And yet somehow, while knowing all of this, I still made the following errors:

  • Application #1: Forgot to upload an unofficial transcript; misprinted a date
  • Application #2: Uploaded an erroneous version of my response questions
  • Application #3: Applied for a job that was out of my range
  • Began my job search after completing school
  • Hinged my entire initial search in one basket.

Since then I’ve learned from my mistakes. My applications are looking better and I have expanded my search outside of the school district that I was working in. However, I know that by broadening my search my chances of obtaining a job have changed, mathematically speaking. I’m just not sure if it’s for the better or for the worse. This is the part of the process that I’ve struggled with recently: enjoying the journey.

 

Progress: A Brief History of Moving Forward

Prior to re-enrolling in school, I was a substitute teacher. I started subbing because I needed the money. I was at a crossroads in my professional career. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into education or go another way. In the beginning I wasn’t getting a lot of classroom assignments. If there were five school days in a week then I would work two or three of them. However, while in them I made sure to follow the teachers’ outlines and always made sure to leave a note detailing everything that occurred in the classroom. This could include everything from student behavior, our progress through the day’s activities, my personal insights, and my personal failures. My goal was to leave the classroom in just as good if not better shape than when I entered it. I always made sure to try to make the learning experience positive for the students.

Shortly afterwards, I was assigned to a classroom for two consecutive weeks. At the time I was deliberating if I was going to return to school to finish my degree in education. So when I went in the classroom, I told myself that I would attempt to run the classroom as if it were my own. I needed to know what it would be like to be a real teacher. It went well. After the two weeks, the teacher returned. Just weeks later I was summoned to take on another long-term assignment. This time it would last three months. I was a bit hesitant. I knew that by taking on this assignment I would be less likely to continue my long-term job search. (For some reason, I’m a pretty loyal person to a fault at times). However, I decided, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

The rest is history. I fell in love with that classroom and the profession. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach. I had evolved.

 

Next Step
It’s still early in the game, but I can feel myself falling behind. Everyday that I don’t hear back from a potential employer is another day that I will lose in prepping for the upcoming school year. It’s another day of financial uncertainty. However, this is neither a good or bad thing. Falling behind is just another form of feedback. Like the assignments that I hand out to my students, not hearing back from an employer is the same thing as turning in a homework assignment and never seeing it again. Maybe the assessor is analyzing it. Maybe they are not. Either way I can’t get too hung up on it. My job is to keep speaking to the universe. At some point it will start talking back. Even if it takes a couple of light-years.

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Kevin Freeman

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