Sunday, July 29, 2007

Defense Against the Dark Arts

My lovely bride has suggested that I apply to Hogwarts for the Defense Against the Dark Arts faculty position... at least I'd get a year's worth of work, and it would be exciting...

Perhaps it is time for me to move to Springfield

Came home from church today to find an interesting email waiting for me in the in-tray:
Sincerely hope your job hunt progressing. I came across your site researching schools for my son, and since you are so sharp and open and love teaching (as do I), I'm wondering if I might impose on you for the kind of straight answers about admissions and financial aid that are tough to come by.
Sharp. Open. And love teaching. We forgot to mention seemingly without an answer to my calling...

Yes I did respond, albeit I don't know enough about financial aid to have been much help in that department.

I find it very interesting who has found me on the web. We can do things today that were unthinkable fifteen years ago. What will things be like in another decade? I can't even imagine.

As to the status of my current search, no joy. The latest note I received from a head of school was short and to the point.
Peter, many complications to this hiring and I believe we have just concluded the search. Thank you for thinking of us....
Er. Ah. You're welcome.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Why boarding schools? Immersion.

Immersion II
Originally uploaded by sharply_done
Yesterday, Mr. B-G asked, "Why is it that you only want to teach at an independent boarding school?"

This would be the question of the hour.

The short answer is simple: Immersion.

I want to immerse myself in a school and the life of a school. I want to be a part of the school in every waking moment.

Okay, that's a slightly flippant answer, but it is accurate as far as it goes.

First, let me be clear about the type of school I seek: independent; secondary; college-prep; small; boarding. Not just any boarding school; not just any independent school; not just any secondary school. Independent. Secondary. College-preparatory. Small. Boarding.

Yes, the selection is small; my count is fewer than a hundred schools, probably closer to 70 schools.

Why not settle for something else? There are plenty of schools that meet some, but not all, of my criteria which would likely be thrilled to have me as a faculty candidate. I think the answer is that I have a darn good gig where I am, and I'll give it up for my ideal but nothing else.

So, let me go through my list and be positive about what I seek.

Independent: My sense, based on my experience, is that in independent schools faculty members have a fair amount of freedom in the classroom and in choosing what to teach and how to teach it. With my former spouse and her husband teaching in local public schools, and my own older sons attending public schools, I am disturbed at what I see, particularly with regard to the Commonwealth's standards of learning. I know; I know; this is a bit of rash generalization. The other item is a bit more pragmatic: I'm not certified.

Secondary: Years ago I would visit schools for fun during spring vacation. I usually spent one week of the two weeks touring schools, spending a day in a school. In talking to teachers, I never found a middle school teacher who didn't love their job. I can't say the same for the elementary school teachers I met or the secondary school teachers I met. That being said, I enjoy high school students as they have, on the whole, developed intellectually so that they can actually function in a world of ideas. I like ideas.

College prep: I want to work with students who are at least considering college. In the world of independent boarding schools, there are schools which are therapeutic in nature. While I do have a degree in counseling, I don't want to work in a school which has an entire student body in need of therapeutic interventions.

Small: Small is good. Small is, I believe, better than big. For me, small means fewer than 300 students, and that would actually be on the large side. Ideally, the max would be about 220 or so. And, that's the max. In my studies of small communities and small organizations, I came across one author who noted that when an organization is less than 300, it's possible to actually know everyone. Once the organization has grown beyond that point, it's not possible to know everyone... and people fall through the cracks. I seek a small school.

Boarding: And, finally, boarding. I'm looking for the 24 by 7 experience, something that demands immersion.

For more on my beliefs about schools, see this essay.

Lastly, if I don't land a teaching job, I'll be able to concentrate on finishing my dissertation, and finishing the dissertation is a high priority. I don't want to be ABD forever.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Originally from LOlandeseVolante
My thanks to Mr. Guy. Yes, you're right, it does sound desperate.

And, sadly, it's too late. The letter already went.

And I've heard... nothing.

The note was one that was written hurriedly and passionately; I probably should have given it time to ferment, like a fine wine.

Interestingly, I don't actually consider myself desperate. Resigned, perhaps, but not desperate. Resigned that I'll not be working in a boarding school come this September.

But I've got this great idea for a community sailing center to build right out my front door...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What do I teach?

Originally uploaded by solarnu
Recently, I came across a job description that sounded very interesting:
Candidates should hold a B.A. or B.S. (field flexible), be self-directed, and have the flexibility to work with many different kinds of people. Interest in and experience with methods of multi-modal or differentiated instruction are important, as are familiarity with and interest in a cross-platform environment (Macintosh and PC). Finally, candidates should be realistic and excited about the challenges and rewards of teaching and living in a boarding school.
Interestingly, while in the past I'd seen myself capable of many roles, usually within teaching I only seriously considered English and history positions. I could see myself in nearly any administrative position at the dean or associate dean level, but teaching only held two disciplines.

I think I was wrong: that's a position I could definitively see not only doing, but excelling.

So I wrote to the academic dean. This is one of the schools which has already interviewed me... and reviewed my package for at least half-a-dozen positions over the last two years. Here's what I wrote:
Dear Ken,

I saw recently that you may have experienced a late departure and are now looking for a "field-flexible" technology teacher.  I am most interested in this position at Saint Swithins.

As you know from reading my blog and perusing of my wiki, I may not have previously considered myself a technology teacher, but rather a teacher who uses and understands technology.  I'd like a swing at the role to teach technology so that my use of technology could be seen (and copied) by colleagues.

As you know, technology is merely a tool to help with some bit of learning.  I picture students using technology to further other disciplines.  I see students creating a wiki about the biology of the campus; I see students keeping semi-official blogs about life as a student; I see outreach offices, such as alumni and development, using Web 2.0 tools to get the message about Saint Swithins to the widest constituency as possible.

In terms of formal educational preparation for this position, I have none.  In terms of informal study and hands-on use of the technology tools, I have plenty.  I'm not "bleeding edge," but I'm definitely "cutting edge" when it comes to trying and using new technology, particularly Web 2.0 tools.  I have a more than passing familiarity with a variety of computer operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, Linux, and VMS.

Please do consider me for the role, Ken.  I think you'll more than agree I'm a good fit for the job, and you know my desire to be on a resident faculty is tremendously strong.  As you know, you can find my candidacy package online.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Reading over it, I come off too forcefully. Sorry, Kenneth.

And that, right there, is part of what is so interesting about blogging in the open. It's all out there.

So, dear readers, I have a question for you to consider, if you'd be so kind. Well, actually, I have two questions.

1. Do you think, after looking over this blog and my credentials package, I'd be able to compete well for the appointment, do the job, and also excel in the role?

2. Do you think my letter was too strong & over-the-top?

Please do let me know what you think; post in the Comments section below.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My thanks to all of you...

More Crayons
Originally uploaded by angieu
... who have taken the time to check out my credentials package and provide feedback. And a special thanks to Mr. California Teacher Guy who posted a link, no, rather an entire post, to my plea for assistance.

And the feedback has been most helpful. It's forced me to tweak and re-tweak and think and re-think. I know it's not possible to please everyone, but the critical eye from everyone has been helpful in forcing me to at least articulate in my mind certain decisions. Certainly, more review and comments is welcome.

Current status: Continuing to hold. I have a couple of open applications, and more unanswered applications than I care to think about.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Soliciting counsel

Gentle reader, I beseech you to check out my new credentials package and provide feedback, if you would. Thanks.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Why teach? Why this calling?

With the lag of progress on my search, I've thought a bit about this call. Is it truly a call, or is it something I invented? Am I doing this for those I'd serve, or am I doing this for me?

It is real.

I am doing this as service, not for myself.

Over at The Daily Grind (h/t to Dana Huff at huffenglish... and how I didn't catch it myself as I have The Daily Grind on my reader), Mr. McNamar proposes the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teachers, with apologies to Dr. Steven Covey.
  1. Desire

  2. Be Yourself

  3. Prepare

  4. Don't Move on until the Concept is Understood

  5. It's about the students

  6. Go with what works

  7. Don't Give Up
These speak to me; they speak to me louder than most of what I have read the last several weeks.

Okay, that's not saying much, perhaps, but they have spoken to me. Habits 1, 2, 5, and 7 resonate with me in my current situation.

My call is sure. My skills are honed. My passion is aflame.

I am ready to serve.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Online Poll here at "A School to Call Home"

survey 1
Originally uploaded by Dasha_K
I'm using Blogger's new draft interface, and there's a cool polling tool. I've placed a poll in the sidebar; please respond. If you read A School to Call Home in an RSS reader, please swing on by to answer the poll.


And if you want to leave a comment, please do so on this post.

Still circling; still holding

Schools Out For Summer
Originally uploaded by arodphoto
I've decided to stop holding my breath.

Scott Elliott notes, "a few years ago, we were worrying about an impending teacher shortage here. Now with the economy in the dumps, districts are cutting teachers left and right."

While he's referring to public school districts, I'm not sure the independent school teacher market is any better.

Nothing. Nada. No joy.

The academic dean who visited last week never got in touch with me; I can only assume no interview is likely. The admissions dean out west looking for an associate dean has not responded to two, short, carefully-crafted emails expressing interest (these followed kind words by the head of school).

Perhaps this isn't going to be my year to end up back at a small boarding school. At least I still have a job.

A quiz for you... History teachers might find this of interest

Over at my Tidewater Musings, I've posted a speech with a challenge: Identify the speaker. Give it whirl and see how you do.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I've been Simpsonized

I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad at this gift from my wife...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

CMC, are you there?

Mentee & Mentor
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse
A note to CMC, who posted a comment below... If you're out there, could you get in touch with me? I didn't see an email addy, and I'd like to pick your brain. Thanks.

Where we stand

Originally uploaded by gravity0069
Holding. One. Two. Three.

Here we are, the day before the July 4th holiday. I'm in the office, still employed as a performance consultant, still called to a small boarding school, and still waiting.

I was gladdened to see that one of my recent visitors to my blog is from a school which is looking for an English teacher. The academic dean told me that he'd be narrowing the field this week to create a short-list for interviewing. While I haven't heard if I've made the cut, I'm pretty sure he visited yesterday.

And that is good news. Why? Well, frankly, there's been a dearth of school leaders from small boarding schools who are conducting active faculty searches actually stopping by A School to Call Home. And this lack of visits sort'a puts the question of anonymity vs. transparency fairly moot. If nobody visits, it really doesn't matter if the blog is open and transparent.

So, I sign off today, the day before this mid-week holiday, hopeful that by Thursday I'll get a call to come up for an interview.

In the mean time, perhaps I’ll take the boys to the beach tomorrow.

I wish you all a relaxing holiday tomorrow, and a chance to enjoy the freedoms and liberties so hard fought by Americans throughout the years.