Yesterday, I went to the second interview for the secretary job at the education graduate school from which I graduated five years ago and where I worked as secretary for a year. Now I am waiting to hear back about whether I get the job.
The panel who met with me (and at least one other candidate) consisted of the academic coordinator of the department, the manager for the program in which the secretary would be working, and a couple of other academic secretaries in the department. Everyone seemed nice and fun. They asked me questions like, “What was the best movie you’ve seen in the last two years?” and “If you could be anything for Halloween, what would you be?” A couple of them seemed like doctoral students in the process of writing dissertations, so they had that fun, self-deprecating but miserable vibe that many doctoral students have.
It occurred to me, however, that one of these secretaries might remember me from my studies through this department one semester six years ago, when the bilingual ed students did a semester with this particular department. I asked her yesterday, if she remembered me, because I had to take courses through the program. She said my name sounded familiar.
Those who have read about my travails during that time (on my blog from back then) might also recall the U.S. Open incident. My father was coming, from Taiwan, to visit New York to see a grand slam tennis tournament for the first time in his life, and we had bought tickets months ahead of time. Of course, it turned out that one of the days for which we had tickets was also the first day of school. So, in my naivete, I emailed the program to ask whether I could miss that day during my first student teaching assignment.
The secretary, who was sitting before me at this interview yesterday, might have seen the email that was forwarded to the she-devil professor of the department, who subsequently wrote me a vile message questioning my desire to be a teacher. (She wrote in the subject line, “Teaching or tennis?”)
Offended and infuriated, I calmed myself enough to attempt to explain my request. I had failed to mention that my father was in another country and also elderly, so this was not, in my opinion, like asking to be off the first day of school to go see a movie with a friend, for example. Naturally, after hearing how important the first day of school would be for a student teacher, I would now be present on the first day of school. But she did not have to be as condescending as she was. Her email follows below:
____ forwarded your email about your desire to see the U.S. Open, rather than the first day of school with children.
I imagine you do not realize the impression your question leaves with us about your interest in, and commitment to, becoming a teacher.
Perhaps your commitment is truly solid and you do not realize the significance the first day of schools holds for both teachers and children. If you told your cooperating teacher that you couldn’t come to the first day of school because you were going to the U.S. Open, you would probably be immediately asked to leave the placement.
As a program, we cannot afford to jeopardize our reputation with the public schools and with the teachers who donate their time to be cooperating teachers; if you are wavering in your commitments, or if teaching is perhaps too restrictive of a life-style, we should discuss this ASAP.
Ew. And for the record, my cooperating teacher that semester would not have asked me to leave the placement if I had asked to be absent; she wouldn’t have cared, just like she wouldn’t have cared if I had shown up in jeans like she did every day, even though this professor told us never to do so. In fact, that teacher probably shouldn’t have been a cooperating teacher in the program, because she scared the children into behaving, and I probably learned some bad habits. Or maybe the program assigned me to her to get back at me somehow.
Anyway, so why am I applying to work in a department where this horrible, condescending person teaches? Because I checked — I’d be working in a different program and not with that loca. Otherwise, you can forget it.
But, there are chances that I’d have to work with her. And that scares me. If she found out it was that girl coming to work for the department, she’d probably make my life hell; no doubt she’d think, “So she couldn’t cut it after all, and that’s why she’s just a secretary now,” and that teaching was “too restrictive of a lifestyle” for me.
Maybe I shouldn’t get the job.