Official Hiring Process

I wonder if every new teacher has to jump through this many hoops before setting foot in a classroom…

First, I aced the interview. Then, I signed the employment agreement.

At this point I thought I had the job. But apparently, there were lots left to do before I’m officially hired. I then got a call asking me to email them my references. A little backwards, but OK. It was then that I was getting just a little worried about “having the job”.

Yet then, I got the email about the staff/parent meeting and I was reassured. I also had to go downtown and get my fingerprints taken and complete a drug test. At the meeting, we got a red folder from the management team. Inside, it had three packets.

  • Employment Application
  • Basic Employment Policies
  • New Hire Booklet

So yes, I had to fill out an employment application after them already saying I “had the job”. At least there was also the new hire booklet or else I would have gotten a little scared again. It just seems like a lot of repeating information though. The new hire booklet wanted information for taxes and direct deposit.

At this point, I have no idea if the management team will want to interview me themselves before I’m officially hired. Since I’m not “official” yet, there’s still a bit of doubt in my head. Usually I don’t like to hold my breath for things and so this whole process is driving me a little crazy.

I wonder if regular public school teachers in my county have to jump through this many hoops and in this strange particular order before they are officially hired.

Today’s silver lining: I’ve been getting along with Miss G online talking about the management packet, teacher uniform, and curriculum. It looks like the year will be full of collaboration!  =D


Teacher Discounts!

It’s a fact.

Teachers love discounts, especially if free stuff is involved!

Therefore, I’ve made a list of store websites that have special teacher discounts. I’ll be updating this list as I find more deals. I may even create a separate page on my blog to keep track of it all. Most, if not all, require you to show current teacher ID or recent pay stub in order to obtain the teacher discount card.

  • Florida Department of Education Discounts – This website gives lots of examples for teacher discounts. Some are Florida specific, like certain hotels or photography services. My favorite on this list is the fact that “The Limited” apparently give teachers 20% off of clothes. However, I couldn’t find info on their website, so I’m a bit skeptical.
  • Borders – Teachers get 25% off books and music CDs for their classroom and 10% off DVD’s for professional use. Discount in-store only.
  • Barnes and Noble – Teachers get 20% off books for classroom use. Discount can be used online as well.
  • Staples – No immediate discounts. You get 10% back in rewards for teaching and art supplies. Only once you rack up enough for a $10 certificate, do you see any savings.
  • The Container Store – Teachers get 15% off their entire purchase. Only good until Dec. 2010.
  • Ann Taylor Loft – Teachers get 15% off their entire purchase. Unfortunately I won’t be able to utilize these clothes in the classroom since we have a uniform.

Our School Is Like A Soup

Yesterday was quite a full day for me. In the morning, I had to go by the school to pick up papers I needed in order to re-do my fingerprinting and drug test. I then had to go downtown (a full 40-minute hectic drive away) to get it all done. In the past, it would take FOREVER!!! But this time, it wasn’t bad at all.

While I was at the fingerprinting office, I even ran into someone else who was getting hired at my school AND going to be a Kindergarten teacher as well! From now on, I will refer to her as Miss G. She was really nice and it was reassuring to hear her voice certain insecurities as well. It was also interesting to find out little differences between what they told her and what they told me. For example, they told me that they were splitting up Kindergarten into block scheduling like the rest of the school. One teacher would teach the language arts and social studies block and the other teacher would teach the math, science, and Spanish block. Since I told them that I do not speak Spanish, they told me that I would teach the language arts and social studies block for sure and that went wonderfully since I’ve been the kids specialist at a bookstore for over a year. What they told her, however, was just that she was going to be a Kindergarten teacher. Yep, they didn’t say anything regarding the block scheduling. (Oh and later on during the night meeting, they said that now the math and science teacher does not teach Spanish as well. So we’ll see.) She was also as anxious to see the classrooms as I was. This will be Miss G’s first time teaching her own classroom. She also has a daughter that will be attending the school in first grade.

After fingerprinting, I went to take the drug test. Luckily, I didn’t get lost and I didn’t have to wait long in the office because I really had to go to the bathroom! Hehe… I was in and out pretty fast. After that, I went to DSW to find some flats that I could wear to work. I got some deep red flats and slightly raised black Mary Janes. The black shoes were already 40% off and then I got 15% off the red ones because there were some glue spots on the front bow on the left shoe. Yay for discounts! (I think my next post will be about all the discounts offered to teachers at various stores!)

I then had a staff meeting at 6pm at a different church. I didn’t know exactly how to get there or where to go once I parked since there were not any signs. PLUS there was construction going on that completely closed the road for 15 minutes as well as change a major two lane road into one lane. Suffice it to say, I was late. You can’t imagine just how EMBARRASSED I was!!!! What would normally take me only 10 minutes or less, took me over 30 minutes to get there. Sigh… Yeah, great first impression when I walked into the room with all my future co-workers! I’ve made it a point in my head to be extra early to any future meetings.

We had a staff meeting from 6-7 pm and then a staff/parent/management meeting from 7-9 pm. I missed information about a red folder that we got at the beginning of the staff meeting. However, I already messaged Miss G to ask her about it. The rest of the staff meeting went over our uniform (yes, teachers will have to wear a uniform) and curriculum for the school. Since this is a new charter school, we are doing things a little bit differently and will have to be flexible since there really isn’t a school like ours yet in our district. The principal used a great simile. She said “Our school is like a soup. We’ve put lots of ingredients into the pot and it’s smelling really good right now. We just haven’t tasted it yet. But after we taste it, we can start fine tuning the recipe.” I love our principal! She’s so supportive, optimistic, energetic, and kind-hearted. She really cares about the students and teachers. As for the curriculum, she wants us to use the “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards” that Florida is thinking about adopting, which I don’t really see much difference to what is currently being used. She is also drawing techniques from neighboring school districts. I’m excited that we’re all going to be creating something new.

After the staff meeting had ended, we went to the large meeting area of the church to wait for the parent meeting. I happened to end up sitting next to one of the other Kindergarten teachers! Her name is Miss P and she just graduated from the same college that I went to. In fact, we soon found out that we had both completed our Kindergarten internship in the same elementary school with the same teacher! I love finding out how small the world is! She’s fun and super excited to start teaching and decorating her room as well! Like, me, she has also been frequenting dollar stores to find deals for her future classroom. Since she just graduated from college, she’s 3 years younger than me (almost exactly since her birthday is just a week after mine). I’ve already added her and Miss G on Facebook! Both Miss P and Miss G don’t know what block they’ve been assigned to teach yet. We also haven’t met the 4th Kindergarten teacher since she wasn’t at the meeting. At least I know that I’ll get along with 2 of the 3 other Kindergarten teachers I’ll be working with!

All of us teachers were thoroughly impressed when we saw just how many parents showed up for the meeting. There will definitely be parent involvement at our school, espeically considering each parent will be required to complete 20 hours of volunteering at the school each year. The main speaker at the parent meeting was the head of the management company that is ultimately responsible for the school. Charter schools are run by management companies and I’m not too sure on the extent of that. Anyway, they explained how the school would function, introduced the principal, explained the role the arts would play in the classroom, talked about the uniforms, described what enhancements they were doing to the campus, went over what types of technology would be utilized (like the addition of a few Smart Boards!! I haven’t even seen a Smart Board in person!!), and touched upon how confident he was that the upcoming school year will be overwhelmingly successful. Here’s hoping for the best!

Today’s silver lining: Even though I was late to the meeting, at least I had replied to the email telling teachers about the meeting. Apparently, I was the only one to reply out of all of the teachers. The principal, reading specialist, and the school’s office manager all seemed impressed with me for that fact.

A Little Reassurance

As soon as I woke up this morning, I went to check my e-mail and guess what? There is an e-mail from the school informing the staff of the Thursday meeting from 6 pm to 9 pm.

Whew! They haven’t changed their minds of hiring me!

Although, the meeting will not be held at the school. So I still won’t be able to see the classrooms, but I figure that I can at least ask about the facilities  and decorations. Hopefully I’ll be able to pre-plan classroom ideas in my head from their responses.

There was also one line in the e-mail that got me thinking in a new direction: “We have been given an amazing opportunity to create a new learning model. I believe that all of you are up to the challenge.” I wonder if the principal was just referring to the fact that our school will have a bilingual theme or to the fact that we will be a charter school. If it’s regarding the bilingual theme, I’m a little scared since I can’t speak Spanish conversationally. I only know basic written Spanish. If it’s regarding the latter, I’m wondering just how different will the charter school aspect be? Either way, I’m sure this whole year will be an adventure I’ll never forget!

Today’s silver lining: The school hasn’t forgotten about me! My nerves tremendously calmed down when I saw the e-mail this morning. =D

Getting a Little Antsy

It’s been 2 and 1/2 weeks since I’ve signed the papers confirming my teaching position.

As each day passes, I get a little more anxious and antsy.

I still haven’t seen past the school office, let alone the classroom I’ll be in. I don’t know if there will be separate tables or just group tables for my students. I don’t know how many bulletin boards I’ll be able to have. I don’t know if I’ll be sharing the same room with another teacher with a few room dividers or if I’ll have my own room. I don’t know if there will be a sink in the room. I don’t know if I’ll have to adhere to certain themes in my classroom decoration for the start of the year. I don’t know what technologies I’ll have available to me in the room. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get some sort of compensation for the supplies I’ll use in the classroom. I don’t know the name of the math/science/spanish Kindergarten teacher I’ll be sharing my students with. I don’t even know how many Kindergarten teachers there will be in total.

Since signing, the school has called me to ask for my social security number and references for background checks and other logistics of hiring within the school system. After that, nothing… On July 6th, right after I came back from a trip to Washington, D.C., I decided to be proactive and call the school. I asked if  they had finalized the dates for the HR (human resource) meetings yet. The meeting is so we can finalize direct deposit, decided on the frequency of checks, and learn about medical and other benefits. During the meeting, supposedly we will get to finally tour the school (given all the alterations are completed). However, the dates have yet to be finalized. I also asked if there was anything else I needed to do. They said no, but if anything pops up then the principal will call me. They did say that there will be an informational meeting for parents on July 15th that teachers will be welcome to come as well. They said that they would either call or email the final details. Well it’s July 11th and no call or email yet. The calendar on the new school website doesn’t say anything for July. There is an event titled “Orientation for Registers Students and Parents” for August 2nd. I just don’t know how the secretary could get those dates so mixed up though. If I don’t get any calls or emails by my lunch break on Wednesday, I’m going to call again and simply ask if the meetings have been scheduled and somehow work my way to ask about the parent meeting.

Sigh… I want to be proactive and interested but not seem overbearing.

We shall see…

Today’s Silver Lining: At least I have that piece of paper saying that they fully intend for me to teach at their school! I could still be in limbo with multiple schools.

I Got A Job!!!!

I got a job! I got a job! I got a job! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!

*does happy dance like a total dork*

After working in retail for over a year, I have finally been offered a full-time teaching job! I will be teaching the language arts / social studies block to kindergarten students starting in the fall!

I am full of excitement, anticipation, happiness, hope, and nerves.. Hehe… This will be what I’ve studied for. This will be what I’ve looked forward to for years. This will be what I intend to do for the rest of my working life. It’s a lot to live up to but I can’t wait! I can finally put to use all the teacher/classroom things I’ve collected over the years. No one will ever think I’m crazy for having over 100 picture books or wanting to go to the children’s section of bookstores first. I’ll finally be able to call myself a “teacher” and not just “certified to teach”. I’ll be confident and glad to tell people what I do for a living. I’ll look forward to meet up with people who I knew in high school to show them what I’ve become.

How I got the job is a crazy story in itself. Last Monday, my friend told me that her aunt was a principal of a nearby school and that she was interviewing for teachers. I didn’t know anything about the school other than that it used to be a private school that was religiously affiliated but was changing to a newly named charter school. Now I’m not religious, so I had some reservations. I figured that I didn’t have anything to lose so emailed the principle my resume Monday night.

I got a call Tuesday from the principal asking me if I would like to come in for an interview Wednesday.

On Wednesday, I went to the interview and was so nervous that my hands were wet and clammy the whole time. I was the 8th and last person to be interviewed that morning. When I got there, I had to complete a short essay regarding my philosophy of the role of technology in the classroom. I thought I knocked that out of the park but I was still extremely nervous to actually get interviewed. (I may or may not post my essay just so that I’ll forever remember it.) However, after about 30 seconds into the interview, the second person interviewing me (the reading specialist) asked me about the location of the bookstore where I work. As it turns out, I had previously helped her in the store and she had basically thought that I was awesome. From then on, I was a lot more relaxed and the interview went smoothly. I mentioned key words like assessment, inquiry based learning, intrinsic motivation, technology, documentation, and more. I was honest and I explained what I learned from past experiences. We ended the interview by them saying that since they are now a charter school, they have to talk with the management team that runs the school before any hiring can take place but that I should be getting a call from the school in the next two to three weeks. In actuality, they called me later that day. However I was at work and couldn’t return the call until after 6 but the office had already gone home for the day.

I had work early the next day, Thursday, so I wasn’t unable to call in the morning. By lunch, I had another voice mail from them. I called them back and they told me that I got the job if I wanted. I was ecstatic and I told them yes!

On Friday, I signed the paperwork saying that my “employment agreement has been confirmed for the 2010-2011 school year”! They also told me that I was definitely going to be teaching the Kindergarten language arts / social studies class! After over a year of -nothing-, I went from hearing about a position to getting hired in the matter of days. I guess sometimes you just have to pay your dues.

Anyway, I’ll be updating more based on my first year of teaching! I want to remember everything! All the ups and downs and how I handled it all! I’m soooo excited!!


A Tasty Classic

The Very Hungry Caterpillar The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is one of those quintessential books that every child should experience growing up.

As the title suggests, the majority of this book is about a very hungry caterpillar who eats and eats and eats. However, there is much more to this book. The first theme deals with the life cycle of caterpillars. The story begins with a single egg from which a tiny caterpillar hatches. The caterpillar has an ever increasing appetite and eats more and more each day. When he can’t eat anymore, he builds a cocoon where he stays for 2 weeks during his transformation. He finally eats his way out of the cocoon and spreads his new wings as a butterfly. This is a terrific way to introduce the wonder of science to young children. This book can be used as a springboard for parents and teachers to start a discussion of life cycles of various animals.

The concepts of counting and days of the week are also included in this book. The caterpillar is born on a Sunday, starts eating on Monday, and eats more and more food each day of the week until finally eating a leaf on the following Sunday. Since each day of the week is clearly represented, this book can help children learn the order of the days. Each weekday also showcases an increasing number; i.e. Monday shows 1 apple, Tuesday shows 2 pears, and so on. Children love counting out the pictures on each page and can even locate where the corresponding number word is in the text as they progress in ability.

Personally, I’ve always loved this book. The illustrations are adorable and incorporate bright vibrant colors in a mixed media form that is purely Eric Carle. The thicker and varying sizes of pages with hole punches invite the reader to truly experience and enjoy the book in a physical manner. Even though the caterpillar is not personified, it is still lovable and full of life. Whenever people are looking for a classic picture book to add to a child’s new bookshelf, I always ask if “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is already on the shelf or not.

On a personal note, I LOVE my copy of this book because I was lucky enough to have attended a book signing of Eric Carle where he signed my book AND drew a little caterpillar next to his name!!! =D

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