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April 16, 2011


Oh, such a fascinating peek into another school's process! Ours seems very similar, except that we're specifically asked to give our input to the head or assistant head of school (both on candidates for our own department and on those who are being considered for broader administrative positions). The department chair's opinion matters a lot, but the department doesn't meet to discuss and recommend, as would normally happen in higher ed.

I hope your new colleagues will be terrific!

Oh, and I agree it's fascinating how open people are (often) about their searches. Part of it seems to be that the culture accepts that people are looking for different things at different stages. A shorter commute, a chance to coach a sport, to move into an administrative position that is filled for the forseeable future at the current school...And the mobility IS astonishing. We have teachers who've taught in Hawai'i, Guam, Singapore, and Thailand, as well as those who've made big moves for a partner's career or to be closer to family or just because they like the beach or the mountains!

This is unbelievably helpful (and timely!) as I have my first ever phone interview with a private secondary school next Wednesday. I only just skimmed now and will be reading more closely soon. Any advice for a job seeker?

Anastasia, here's my advice for those seeking HS jobs (at least within the private sector, although I assume that much of the advice would apply to public HSs as well): Understand what it actually means to educate "the whole child" -- a phrase that gets thrown around a lot but often not taken seriously -- and that you understand that HS is educating students in academic disciplines & preparing them for higher ed but is also walking with them through coming of age. Understand that working with parents is part of the deal. Recognize that a HS teacher has to be a team-player, working with other teachers and in contexts outside his or her own classroom. Maybe have a positive anecdote about your own HS experience. Depending on your education and experience, recognize what it is you'll be trying to convince your interviewers of: That you know enough to teach this field? or that you're excited to teach HS? Be able to articulate why you're particularly interested in this specific school. Most of this is just basic interview stuff, but people coming into HS teaching for the first time are often remarkably clueless about what it actually entails (and this was certainly true of me when I was interviewing -- I was really lucky to wind up with the great job I did!)

Good luck in your interview!

This is quite helpful, thanks. My main concern has been that I want them to know I am excited about teaching high school even though this turn in my career sort of freaks me out. I still feel fairly clueless, on the other hand. I've done what I could to understand the model embraced by the school (which is very particular; it's a niche school). Everything you said here about walking with someone through coming of age makes sense to me and is certainly something I'll keep in mind.

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Who is this What Now?

  • I'm an English teacher at Fabulous Girls' School (FGS). I'm a convert to Judaism. I am partner to D. We live in an adorable, messy little house in Adventure City. Two cats -- the Muse and the Contemplative -- live with us and keep life at home plenty adventurous.

    Email me at whatnowblogger at yahoo dot com.

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