I have a job interview. While this seems like a completely normal event, it isn’t. My primary vocation for the last 18 years has been motherhood. Oh, I’ve had part-time jobs. Day care provider, Wal-Mart shoe associate, librarian, field trip presenter at a Children’s Museum and substitute teacher have been a few of the hats I have worn. Each has required an interview of some sort. But this interview would be my first for a full-time job with a salary and benefits. Big time stuff. My greatest worry? Suitable attire.
Deeper and deeper I pushed my way to the back of my closet. Everyone knows that The Back Of The Closet is reserved parking for outfits for Special Occasions. Funerals, weddings, and formal company dinner wear all hung in silent stillness. Mocking me. I had nothing. I began to do what my occupation as a mother has taught me to do quite skillfully. Improvise. Let’s start with a black skirt given to me by neighbor and friend Haley. Slide on fabulous heels from workout partner and karaoke instigator Pam. There, bottom half done. This led to walking around in skirt, heels and bra while trying on every conceivable blouse I owned. Yes, blouse. It is a lady-like word for a garment that can be worn with style and sophistication. It is not a tank top. It is not a shirt. Sit up and take note young ladies. Don’t I sound like a teacher already? OK, except for the walking around in my bra part. The blouse I decided on was a perfect candidate. A print with black, tan and gray that had a flattering neckline and a graceful length, the problem was it was sleeveless. I texted my fashion consultant and Mother Teresa friend, Shannon. I drove myself over to her house, with my blouse on. I walked in the door. She looked at me, marched straight to her closet, and with a flourish, pulled out the perfect black teacher cardigan with three quarter length sleeves and just the right amount of bling buttons. I was ready.
Here’s the deal. My biggest stress was my wardrobe because I am a 39 year old woman with two degrees. I know how to write an answer to a question that frames the problem and provides a clear and empathetic solution. I can communicate and support answers to questions with facts and examples from personal experience. I love to ask questions. I have a passion for learning. I think middle school students are the best. I love their energy, their wacky sense of humor and they way they respond to you when they figure out that you really do care about them. For Reals. I look forward to answering questions in this interview and asking questions of my own. I have a list. I know who I am, and it’s a beautiful thing. I can walk into the interview tomorrow and proudly represent who I am and what has shaped me to be the best teacher I can be. I would not trade one day of motherhood for any other occupation. It is the toughest training field there is. I have been tempted to write “Queen of Improv” in the occupation box for surveys, it defines a large part of what I do.
The position I am interviewing for is teaching “at-risk” middle school students. I would be working with students in the 6th-8th grades. I dig these kids. The challenges they must overcome are greater than most of their peers. Their victories in school are even sweeter. It is not an easy job, but it is one that will make a difference in ways that will not be revealed until years have passed.
When I have questions I go to books. I read. I research. I soak up everything I can. As I researched “at-risk” middle school students I stumbled across a hilarious and straight shooting book by Dr. Michael J. Bradley called “Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy”. Not only does the good doctor explain what is happening in the teen brain he gave a scenario of what a typical day would sound like for teen.
It starts with the opening of his eyes “WHY CAN’T YOU GET UP
ON TIME?” carries into morning “WHY CAN’T YOU RAISE YOUR
HAND?” evolves through the afternoon “WHY CAN’T YOU FIELD
GROUNDERS TO YOUR LEFT?” and continues into the evening
“WHY CAN’T YOU MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO TAKE ME TO
THE ‘FLAMING PUKES’ CONCERT?” As the day ends he drifts off
to sleep hearing that sweet adolescent lullaby, “PIGS COULDN’T
STAND TO LIVE IN YOUR ROOM.”- Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy by Dr.Michael J. Bradley
It gives you pause, doesn’t it? I have three teenage sons living under my roof right now and it is both wonderful and maddening. As a parent it is a bittersweet time. Your children are growing up, figuring out who they are, and you are there to help guide them on the rollercoaster of hormones and emotions. You are also turning gray with worry and trying not the throw up when they circle every loop at mach speed.
Wish me luck tomorrow, will you? I will carry all that I have learned with me into that room full of people who want to know why I want to teach these students. They won’t care too much about what I am wearing, they just want to see that I have a passion for making a difference. I suppose that’s what every interview we have is about, why we do what we do. Are you making a difference?