No matter how long you have been teaching, being laid off catapults you back in time. Back to those nerve-wracking days of updating resumes, gathering letters of reference, and—cue Jaws-is-approaching-theme music—preparing for the dreaded job interview. Some of those interviews go well and you walk out feeling confident you’ll land the job. Others? Well…
One Friday last May, knowing I was soon to be laid off, I learned of a job opening. After rushing to gather and email my documents, I immediately received a call to come for an interview/demo lesson that Monday morning. This did not give me a lot of time to prepare.
So, I did what all self-respecting teachers do: I went overboard typing up elaborate lesson plans and spending lots of money on supplies. Supplies for a class I don’t teach. For a school system for which I don’t work.
After completing my plans, I practiced them repeatedly in front of a model classroom that included my five-year-old and my three dogs. “Please,” begged my daughter “can’t you just read the story without asking all those questions?”
Still, when the day of the interview came I was pretty nervous. Knowing I had to travel on one of the most congested stretches of road in the state, I decided to leave my house early enough to get to my destination with time to spare. Or so I thought
Immediately upon entering the highway, I realized I. Was. Not. Going. Anywhere. I kept looking at the ETA on my GPS as it slowly ticked off the minutes I was going to be late. About 10 minutes before the interview, I called the vice principal to let him know my predicament. He was very understanding, “You’re only five minutes away. Don’t sweat it,” he said. Too late for that.
By the time I finally got off the highway and flew through the winding roads to the school, I was 10 minutes late. My GPS led me to a group of buildings, which I identified as institutions of learning. A security officer gestured for me to go left. There I saw a multi-school campus. A middle school. An intermediate school. A high school. The thing is…I was supposed to be at an elementary school.
Cursing my GPS, I frantically drove around the buildings about 5 times before asking a parent, who directed me to the proper location. I raced to the school and parked in the first lot I could find. Now, this lot? It happened to be in the back of the building. Waaaaay in the back. Thus began a journey which would be the envy of even the most experienced hiker. With the heels of my pumps grabbing turf with every step, I did an entire lap around the monstrous building to find the front door.
Now 30 minutes late and frazzled, I breathlessly entered the building and fell all over myself apologizing for my tardiness. Nonetheless, there were six staff members still willing to interview me. With one exception. “You won’t have time for the demo lesson,” the vice principal said. The lesson I’d worked all weekend on. The one I’d practiced on my Rottweiler. That lesson.
I won’t go into all the gory details. Suffice it to say, I was flustered as I went into the interview. How bad was it? Let’s just say, I forgot the name of the math curriculum I was using.
Miraculously, the committee decided they wanted to see my demo anyway, which included a shared read aloud of Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. Poetic, isn’t it?
After all was said and done, I was ushered out the FRONT door, where I proceeded to hoof it around the entire school again back to my car thinking, “This day could not get any worse.”
And then I returned to school and remembered. I had lunch duty.
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.