The 9-Interview Itch: Deciding on My Next Physical Education Position
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I could no longer afford to keep teaching at my current school. I knew that on July 1st my rent was going to increase. I did not have enough money saved to buy a home yet and after eleven years of teaching, I was unhappy with my salary. I had started teaching in my former school system in 2006 and was preparing to go into year twelve on salary step number eight. I was frustrated.
“Ms. Tucker, you’re not going anywhere” my colleague said to me when I expressed my desire to leave my former school over a year ago. But on July 11th, I signed a contract to teach physical education at a new school in a new county after having spent 10 years at my former elementary school. I’m excited for the change but I have to admit, deciding on a new position had its share of challenges. My journey to a new school began with something I call “The 9-Interview Itch”…nine interviews in the span of five months.
It started with an interview at an international school in DC, then on to an interview with Howard County Public Schools’ PE Department, followed by an interview with Montgomery County Public Schools’ PE Department, then an interview in my former county, PGCPS, then on to three interviews at schools in DCPS and back to two more interviews with schools in Howard County. In each interview, I talked about positive behavior intervention and supports, classroom management, assessment in physical education, establishing a rapport with students, writing curriculum, connecting with parents and building relationships with the outside community. I found that each school system was vastly different in expectations, procedures, and quality of support offered to its educators.
I presented my best self with every interviewer. I learned that in the past 11 years, I had become more than an elementary physical education teacher. I had become a mentor, problem solver, advocate, coach, leader, professional development facilitator, cheerleader, and change-maker. I am going to be honest, realizing that I wouldn’t be able to support myself financially on my current salary was the motivating factor. It pushed me to set up interviews in the first place. But, each interview was well worth it. I built the confidence I needed to take on the challenge of teaching some place new.
Ultimately, I decided on Howard County Public Schools as the best fit. I felt that my experiences and passion for quality instruction were best suited there. If anything, the 9-Interview Itch lit a fire under me and forced me to ask two questions, “What’s next in your career?” Where do you think you can make the most impact as an educator?” As teachers we are constantly placing our students’ needs first. I get that. However, it is okay to question our salary, current position and overall motivation in our careers and make the decisions that also best support us.