Interview With a Teacher #1: Mr. D’Elia

A Note About These Interviews:

I taught seventh grade for almost twenty years and was constantly surprised at the difference between what friends, family, parents, neighbors, and community members imagined my job was like and what it actually was like. The few times I had the privilege of inviting a friend or family member to visit my classroom, they always left wide-eyed and exhausted. The purpose of these interviews is to allow the world a glimpse inside the lives of current educators. Now that I’ve quit teaching, I want to do what I can to support all the teachers still fighting the good fight, and I don’t want to forget what life is like inside a school.

All questions are optional. The teacher may write as much or as little as they want. If they don’t feel comfortable answering a question for any reason, they’re allowed to leave it blank or say “I prefer not to answer.” For confidentiality and privacy purposes, the name of the teacher’s school will not be published, and they may choose how they refer to themselves. (Full name, initials only, or even simply “Teacher.”) Participants have been asked to refrain from using student names or to change names. When describing student or parent interactions, they may be vague or change slight details to protect anonymity as long as the message/tone of the encounter stays the same.

* * *

I want to give a HUGE thank you to Mr. D’Elia for being brave enough to be the first person to participate in my teacher interviews and for dedicating his life to middle schoolers. His positivity and heart shine through in his answers.

* * *

Interview With Mr. D’Elia:

  1. In no more than three words, describe how you feel right now.

    Expectant / eager / tired

  2. What is today’s date?

    August 20, 2022

  3. How old are you?

    53

  4. How many years (total) have you been teaching?

    15

  5. Have you ever taken a break from teaching? If so, why and for how long?

    No.

  6. What is your current salary?

    $60,000

  7. Is there anything you would like to share about your personal life or family situation?

    My wife teaches ESL. We have two daughters, 18 and 14.

  8. In what city and state do you teach?

    Austin, Texas

  9. What grade(s) and subject(s) do you currently teach?

    6th grade /ELA

  10. How many years have you been in your current teaching position?

    15

  11. How many conference periods do you have per day?

    2

  12. How many students do you teach total?

    125

  13. If you teach multiple classes, how many students are in your smallest class and your largest class?

    The smallest is 23. The largest is 26.

  14. On average, how many meetings do you have per week?

    4

  15. What other responsibilities do you have at school besides teaching your own classes? (For example: bus duty, cafeteria monitor, after school club, chaperone, committee member, team leader, coach, etc.)

    Spelling Bee Organizer / Eagle Allies Sponsor (No Place for Hate) / Department Head / Lunch duty (1x per week) / morning cafeteria duty (1x per week).

  16. Are you compensated for any of your extra duties?

    Yes. For Eagle Allies Sponsor (No Place for Hate) and Department Head

  17. When was the last time you took a day off?

    Last September, 2021.

  18. Describe the reason for your absence and the process you went through in order to take the day off.

    I had one day of jury duty. It was canceled at the last minute so I took the day off anyway. I had to notify the principal ahead of time, search for a sub which took several calls/texts. I created a lesson plan and had to write detailed instructions for the sub.

  19. Describe a positive interaction you’ve had with a student this year.

    A students told me that I was their favorite teacher, because I make learning fun.

  20. Describe a challenging interaction you’ve had with a student this year.

    In my last class of the day which starts at 3:31 PM, three boys had trouble understanding that they were not allowed to talk while others were talking. After several warnings, they continued to talk and so I had to give them lunch detention.

  21. Describe a positive interaction you’ve had with a parent this year.

    A parent reached out and told me about some special-needs that her child has. I responded quickly and she appreciated it. I think sixth grade parents are especially nervous letting their babies go off to “the big middle school,” and so appreciate any communication of care and understanding.

  22. Describe a challenging interaction you’ve had with a parent this year.

    The year as young, so I have not had any challenging interactions so far this year!

  23. Describe a positive interaction you’ve had with a coworker or administrator this year.

    I was able to share some personal family struggles with a coworker who was very supportive. Also, it seems like all the teachers understand that we are in the same fox hole, experiencing the same struggles, and facing the same challenges. The years of Covid seem to have bonded us.

  24. Describe a challenging interaction you’ve had with a coworker or administrator this year.

    None!

  25. What’s the funniest or weirdest thing that’s happened at school this year?

    As my students entered seventh period on Friday, I was playing “YMCA.” A spontaneous dance party broke out in my room for approximately three minutes. It was glorious.

  26. What time did you arrive at work today?

    7:50AM

  27. What time did you leave work today? If you are still at work, what time did you leave yesterday?

    5:20PM

  28. Describe your lunch today. (Length, food, location, what you did while eating, etc.)

    I eat at my desk by myself. I think I got into this habit during Covid. That, and the teachers lounge has been refurbished and is now much smaller. I bring my lunch of hard boiled eggs (perhaps another reason I eat by myself) chips and yogurt. I give myself about a 15 minute break to chill, but during lunch I catch up on emails, complete tasks, grade, etc.

  29. Describe one success you experienced today.

    I was able to tell those talking boys that they did a good job today.

  30. Describe one challenge you experienced today.

    Starting class at 3:31 PM is really, really late. It’s hard to psych myself up for it.

  31. What time did you complete this survey?

    8:50PM

  32. How satisfied are you with your current job? (1 = not at all satisfied, 5 = very satisfied)

    4

  33. As of right now, do you plan to continue teaching next year?

    Yes.

  34. What’s the best thing about being a teacher?

    The students — being able to show kindness and acceptance to them is my joy.

    Teacher, I want to tell you something, and I want you to listen. You are amazing. You are creative and smart and hardworking and beautiful. You are valued by those who are paying attention, and you deserve so much more than you receive from society. You are a superhero, and the world is a better place with you in it. Thank you for everything you do for your students, your community, and your fellow teachers. I appreciate you. Now, close your eyes and take three long, deep breaths, then open your eyes.

  35. In no more than three words, describe how you feel right now.

    Content, appreciated, purposeful.

* * *

If you are a current teacher and would like to be interviewed for my blog or if you know a current teacher I should interview, contact me!

Published by Carie Juettner

Carie Juettner is a former middle school teacher and the author of The Ghostly Tales of New England, The Ghostly Tales of Austin, and The Ghostly Tales of Burlington in the Spooky America series by Arcadia Publishing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as The Twin Bill, Nature Futures, and Daily Science Fiction. Carie lives in Richardson, Texas, with her husband and pets. She was born on Halloween, and her favorite color is purple.

6 thoughts on “Interview With a Teacher #1: Mr. D’Elia

  1. This is going to be such a powerful way to bring to light all that our teachers do/deal with. Mr. Delia’s heart did shine through, and I laughed so many times. Your parting message brought tears to my eyes, Juett.

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