ANOTHER JOB FAIR TALE
by Life in Limbo
I received an invitation to a job fair for members of the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) from the Teacher Hiring “Support” Center (THSC) about a week ago. After I overcame my shock at actually being INVITED to a job fair intended for people just like me, I figured, sure, I’ll go. I mean the “job fair” I attended last week was a complete waste of time and effort, so why not spend another day of my vacation engaged in yet another exercise in futility? My inner masochist could hardly contain herself.
While this job fair was allegedly for Brooklyn and Queens only, I noticed that there were several schools from the Bronx and Manhattan in attendance as well, with the majority of schools being middle schools and elementary schools. There were very few high schools.
So here are a few of my thoughts and observations:
*ATR teachers were given blank sticky name tags on which to write our names and license areas. Teaching Fellows, on the other hand, were given pre-made computer-generated clip-on name tags in little plastic sleeves. Makes it pretty easy to separate the cheap, untenured newbies from the pack, doesn’t it?
*I was at this fair for about three hours. I only got to speak to FOUR people. The lines for interviews were not particularly long, but the principals were speaking to candidates for 15–20 minutes at a time. I waited on line for an average of ½ hour for each interview, usually with only one or two people ahead of me. If anyone from THSC is listening, maybe a time limit for these meet-and-greets could be set, because I doubt any candidate could have met with more than 4 -5 principals in the four hours of the event. This is unfair.
*There were MANY empty tables where schools had not shown up and many principals had sent representatives from their network to the fair instead of attending in person or sending an AP or two.
*As I waited on line, I saw THSC people walking around serving plates of fruit salad and cookies to the interviewers (none of whom had their actual NAMES on their name tags–they just said, “INTERVIEWER”). The candidates, however, were only given access to two small water dispensers located in a far corner of the room. And no one ever brought me any. I just got it myself.
*Many of the crowd of job-seekers (with the exception of the Teaching Fellows) were experienced, older (read: over 40) teachers and there were MANY Reading teachers seeking non-existent vacancies. I also spoke to math, science, ESL and Special Ed teachers who told me that they have been unable to find positions in spite of applying for many (some up to 100) vacancies. Others told me of vacancies in their license areas that they covered last year only to find that the job was given permanently to a newbie with a connection.
*My most interesting conversation, however, was with a very friendly UFT representative. I wanted to discuss my child care situation if I am sent to a school that requires a commute of over one hour. She suggested that I apply for a "Special Accommodation," which is usually reserved for people with disabilities, but might be worth a shot in my case. In addition, the UFT representative flat out told me that she does not think that they will really send teachers to different schools every week–the logistics of reassigning everyone are too complicated and the principals don’t want an “ATR of the Week” situation any more than the ATRs want to be in that situation. So now I have to wonder if the UFT knows something about this agreement that we “regular” people do not. In light of NYCATR’s post yesterday, I think it is possible.
The results of this endeavor for your humble blogger? I had four interviews, one with the school I was excessed from (listing an ELA vacancy). All went very well, with two showing what appeared to be genuine interest. I also received a call this afternoon and have an interview set up at one of the schools on Friday, so maybe it wasn’t an exercise in futility after all. But then, I have been down this road before, so while I will try to be optimistic, my inner pessimist will continue to give the finger to the powers that be who created this horrendous and degrading situation.