Interview With a Teacher #2: Mr. W.

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 For confidentiality and privacy purposes, the name of the teacher’s school will not be published, and they may choose how they refer to themselves.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.

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Thank you to Mr. W for taking the time to participate in my teacher interviews! His candid responses will definitely shed some light on the middle school teaching experience. Warning: Some language in this interview is PG-13. 🙂

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Interview With Mr. W:

Mr. W, hard at work and adequately caffeinated for his multitasking
  1. In no more than three words, describe how you feel right now.

    Giddy, tired, punchy

  2. What is today’s date?

    August 26-29, 2022

  3. How old are you?

    45

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

    20

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

    No

  6. What is your current salary?

    2021 – $51,891.53

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

    Spouse, 2 kids – one in middle school, one in elementary

  8. In what city and state do you teach?

    Austin, TX

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

    7th Science

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

    11 years

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

    1 Conference period every other day

  12. How many students do you teach total?

    206 Science Students, 28 Advisory Students

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

    18 smallest, 33 largest

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

    1 official + 1 informal

  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.)

    Monitor the common area before school 1x a week (20 minutes)

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

    I am being compensated for the extra class period I am teaching with an additional 1/6 of my current salary (approx. $8,500).

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

    August 24, 2022

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

    Daughter had ear surgery. I requested the day off on the first day of summer training. I requested a substitute at the same time. I modified a previous year’s sub letter, printed out my rosters, and set up my class as if I was doing on-line learning for the day. Students were asked to take notes from a screencast that I had made the year before. They were then asked to complete two paper assignments, one involved reading from the textbook and the other required reviewing their notes. The assignments will be taken as a grade.

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

    A student asked randomly if I have a favorite English Premier League (Football) team. I do not have one, but I am gaining familiarity of the league by being in an EPL Fantasy League with a coworker. The student is a big fan of Manchester City so I made a comment about their big striker, Haaland, and the student seemed impressed.

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

    A student in my class of 33 did not put together their Science Journal in class on Monday because they did not have a spiral with them. That day, I had given 3 other students in the class a spiral to build their Journal, but this one did not speak up and ask for any help. I missed that they were not putting one together, even though I was consistently instructing the students to turn to a partner and share what and where they just put in the Journal. We did this for 5 different sheets of paper with 5 different people in the classroom. Not one attempt at self advocating. I laid into the student today about needing to speak up for themselves, especially in a class of 33.

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

    I called caregivers after the first day of school to notify them that their student volunteered in my class the first day to help. Most of the parents were panic-surprised that I was calling after day 1.

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

    None so far.

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

    Most interactions are positive. The new Spanish teachers have both tentatively come to my room seeking supplies (color pencils, markers, tissues, etc.) and I have shown them the abundance that the generosity of the community provide. They have been gob smacked. A new Texas History teacher on the floor has been incredibly surprised by the pace at which students are learning the material and completing work. She was thinking the two returning Texas History teachers were overly ambitious with the start of year plans, but is now reveling that she can focus on teaching for the first time in her career.

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

    The security guard came by my room and told me that my two doors had to be closed and locked for security purposes. I am big on COVID preventative measures. Second to masking indoors when spending time with individuals not from your household, having as much airflow as possible is recommended. I stared combatively at the security guard, who I have gotten along with up to this point in our professional relationship and said, “You’re shitting me, right?” He was taken aback a moment and started apologizing, and I launched into my whole airflow thing, pointing out my five fans and three air purifiers that I have constantly going through my room, and stated that COVID was larger threat than unlocked doors. He didn’t deserve me going off on him. I tried to apologize to him a bit, I’ve sort of complied.

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

    While eating lunch with coworkers outside on the picnic tables a discussion about English words and their alternate meanings in Britain and USA broke out. The one word I was not familiar with was “fanny” as in fanny-pack, and I asked what it meant in Britain. I was told initially that “it is a female body part.” I inquired which part, and the same teacher shouted “Pussy! It means pussy!” I replied they could have just said “vulva” and the conversation meandered onward.

  26. What time did you arrive at work today?

    7:15AM

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

    4:10PM

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

    25 minutes – warmed up pizza, two mandarin oranges, banana. Ate outside with 6 coworkers.

  29. Describe one success you experienced today.

    “I showed up.” It is this year’s motto.

  30. Describe one challenge you experienced today.

    A student’s parents called together at the end of the day. They are worried about the other student their student is working with in Science. They claimed to have seen the other student vaping in the neighborhood. Now I need to make a new seating chart.

  31. What time did you complete this survey?

    Day 2, 9:30 ish (there are still more questions you know after this one.) <– Good point, Mr. W! It is a rather lengthy survey. Thank you for taking so much time to complete it.

  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?

    Imparting factual knowledge.


    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.

    Tired, parched, annoyed (this survey stopped saving and I had to re-answer 4 or 5 of these) <– I’m quite sorry about that. I owe you a beverage.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Interview With a Teacher #2: Mr. W.

  1. Great interview. I’m sorry to read about that science class of 33–I remember lab classes that size; not easy–but glad the job got a 4. I’m sharing this. People need to see the job from the teacher’s point of view.

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