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February 7, 2011

Change : A Teacher’s Tale

Written By: Wendy Cushing
Category: Career Path
X Change - A Teacher's Tale of Unemployment

Change - A Teacher's Tale of Unemployment
If you are reading this, you are probably a job-seeking teacher. If you’ve been following my series on my hunt for employment after two back-to-back layoffs, you’re probably thinking, “Will someone please just give this woman a job already, so we can read about something else?

Regardless of whether you’ve been “reduced in force” due to budget cuts, are just starting out after graduating college, or trying to re-enter the workforce after a leave of absence, you know how hard it is to find a teaching job in this economy. A lot of it has to do not only with your skills, but with who you know and how you can make yourself known in a particular district.

Last month I wrote a column about what to do if you should find yourself in the unfortunate position of being laid off. In this column, I am happy to report that I followed my own advice and generally annoyed, pestered, ingratiated myself, and kept my ears open in and around my daughter’s school. I took the same approach to job searching as I did to trying to find a parking spot during my undergraduate days. Instead of looping around the parking lot endlessly trying to find a spot, I found it was always better to sit tight in one aisle and wait for someone to leave. And that’s precisely what I did at my first grader’s school. Instead of continuing to send out endless resumes, I volunteered. A lot. Field trips, library, class reader, Scholastic book orders. You name it. I got my body in that school. Which afforded me the opportunity to snoop…I mean, inquire…around. No, no, I didn’t go slinking around in doorways or anything like that, but I was on the lookout for the Big Three: Pregnancy, mid-year Retirement, and Orthopedic Surgeries. Because I figured if I looked and hung around long enough, I’d find a teacher with a suspicious bump, or one packing boxes, or one on crutches. Just as I waited for that parking spot to open 20 years ago, I bided my time; someone had to leave at some point, I figured.

And then, in January, someone did. A teacher at another school was set to retire mid-year, and the part time kindergarten intervention specialist at my daughter’s school was slated to take her place. That left her job open. And it just happened to be in my field of expertise.

I never would have known about the job if I weren’t at the school doing one thing or another. But exactly a day before the job was posted, I found out about it. So, I did the only thing any desperate, unemployed teacher who has a child in college and whose unemployment compensation was about to run out would do, I submitted my paperwork and emailed the principal before the job was even posted. In the email, I just maybe possibly might have dropped the names of the 10 or so staff members with whom I had worked previously. I left no one out. I included the school social worker, the reading consultant, grade level partners, and the gym teacher. Then I emailed all of them and asked them to put in a good word for me.

Within a couple of days, I received a phone call from the principal asking me to come in for an interview, and after that, a model lesson. Fortunately, I live only 1 mile away from the school, so there was little danger of repeating the Great Job Interview Calamity of 2010.

Because I could actually remember my own name, find the front door of the building, and discuss the math curriculum I last taught (see Great Job Interview Calamity of 2010 article referenced above), two days later I got another call from the principal with a real, live job offer.

So that’s it. I’m back in the saddle again, albeit if only part time for now. Which means only one thing…it’s time to dig those glorious Really Good Stuff plastic baskets and pocket charts out of storage and get back to work.


About the Author

Wendy Cushing has been teaching for 28 years in grades Pre-K-3.  She currently teaches 3rd grade in Monroe, Connecticut.  In addition to teaching, Wendy enjoys pinning teaching ideas she will never use, party planning, freelance writing, and hanging out with her over 300 lbs. worth of dogs.  She is mom to two wonderful daughters, one living in NYC, and the other about to enter 7th grade.

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  • Wendy
    February 8, 2011

    Thanks everyone! Glad to be back…and still writing for Really Good Stuff.

  • Carolyn
    February 7, 2011

    Go, WENDY!! It pays to have your name known. My first seven days of subbing in 2002 were for teachers I knew because of volunteering at my kids’ school. Networking is great! And good luck on getting back in your own classroom. (I’m long-term subbing for someone on maternity leave right now…)

  • cindy garcia
    February 7, 2011

    Another great example of when persistence pays off. We had a student teacher for our grade level graduate in December. We told her to take whatever job she could in a school so that eventually she could land the job she wanted. She stayed on as a part time instructional aide. Since she helped with the struggling readers and did a great job she got a full time teaching position the next fall.

  • Pam
    February 7, 2011

    Congrats! I hope things go well for you!

  • Jill
    February 7, 2011

    Congrats! Blessings. Good things come to those who…slink?

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