“What team do you play for?”
“I’m a Peach, sir.”
“Really? Because I can’t understand why you would…..are you crying? Are you crying? There’s no crying in baseball! There’s no crying in baseball!”
– A League of Their Own
Well. I’m a Teach-er, not a Peach, sir. And there’s plenty of crying in teaching. I remember at the end of my first year of teaching, last day of school, the tears came rolling down as I drove home. I didn’t cry the entire year despite getting placed as a literacy teacher instead of a regularly appointed English teacher. Despite traveling to 11 different classrooms on 4 different floors across 2 separate wings of the school, instead of having my own classroom. Despite having a student (Alexandria-never forget THAT name) behave so badly that she had to be removed from the class permanently to sit with the dean. I remember my mentor calling me the “Rookie of the year” and me thinking “you’re damn right I am.” And suddenly the tears began to pour.
I’ve seen plenty of teachers cry throughout their first year. The feeling of “I don’t know what I’m doing” and “I don’t know what to expect” is overwhelming. It’s no wonder so many quit within the 1st few years! It takes a certain type of person to teach! You might call this type of person “crazy.”
So I feel a bit “crazy” for putting all this effort into something that is going to be as challenging as that 1st year. Our dining room table is stacked with papers, documents, lesson plans and portfolio pieces I’ve decided didn’t make the cut. The rest of the house is in disarray because I’ve been so focused on the interviews that I have no time to put all the playdough in a secure location. Two suitcases were discarded for a small carry-on when I saw the $25 baggage fee for AA. “Mommy, can I come to work with you?” Baby Z asked before I left for JFK. “I wish, but your plane ticket is no longer free.”
I flew down to Atlanta, home of the Georgia Peaches, on Sunday and checked into the Omni Downtown (Rockford Peaches were from Illinois BTW and I didn’t see a peach anywhere in Georgia. I was so hoping to meet one, namely, on the dessert menus). The Omni was a quick walk across Centennial Park and Atlanta’s “London Eye” to the hotel where interviews for Qatar would take place. I was looking forward to doing some sight seeing, eating southern food and sushi, and getting lots of extra sleep.
If you’re ever in Atlanta, may I recommend the following:
1. Download and use UBER. It is very affordable compared to UBER New York. Somehow, I did not feel comfortable on their MARTA trains at all and I ride the A Train in New York.
2. Enjoy a ride on their cute little streetcar. And then realize you could’ve walked to all the stops within 30 minutes. Ah well, it’s only a dollar and it gets you to Dr. King’s birth home in no time at all.
3. Go to Eight Sushi Lounge for amazing Nigri and a delightful, welcoming staff. I really wanted to eat there everyday, but I had to get something southern.
4. I went to Gus’s World Famous for fried chicken and it was ok. I went to The Food Shoppe for shrimp and grits and they were delicious! I only need add a dash of hot sauce to enhance the experience. The chef offered me a sample of chicken and Mac – perfection! At Ted’s Montana Grill, the wait staff does a great job of describing each homemade dish but, I didn’t find it to be anymore tasty than a box of frozen apps from Friday’s.
5. Do all your fun sight seeing before going on your job interview. Because after is a sea of great unknowns.
I went into the interview feeling confident and assured. I met with the director of schools and we had a great conversation on education, life in various cities and my family! He asked to see pictures of the kids. He seemed delighted and asked me to interview with a second person, the director of the ELL program. I was thrilled! After an hour or so, I met my second interviewer and my confidence dropped. His questions were a lot tougher. How do you identify a student with a learning disability vs. a language barrier? How do you assess a students progress when they can’t be measured by state exams? What assessments are given to your students and what do they look like? If a student is identified with a learning disability, what recommendations do you make to their resource team and what adjustments do you make to ensure learning is taking place in your classroom?
These were questions that I had answers to, but I wasn’t articulating them as clearly as I would’ve liked. As I flipped through my portfolio I got the sense he was not incredibly impressed. And as I walked out of the room, I didn’t get a “I look forward to having you work with us” vibe.
I thanked the recruiter and headed back to the hotel. The drab gray sky and overly chilly weather (and flurries) fit my mood perfectly. I tried to nap but woke after only 20 minutes. Then I got a text from an amazing teacher and fellow candidate I met while waiting to interview. As it turns out, we are actually neighbors in Queens, NY! We met for lunch and drinks and I began to feel much better. “If it’s meant for you then it will be.”
So as I sit on this plane bound for home, I tense up, not knowing what to expect and question if I really know what I’m doing. I am grateful for the opportunity to review what 13 years of teaching looks like. I’ve defined my teaching philosophy, solidified my resume and gathered valuable artifacts that show who I am as an educator. The interviews are over and now we wait. There’s nothing to cry over just yet.