Interview With a Teacher #5: Ms. S

Thank you for participating in my interviews, Ms. S! Your unique teaching situation makes my head spin. So many subjects to teach (and all in the same class period) and so much fluctuation. But it’s obvious you’re the perfect fit for this particular population of students. Thanks for being there for them. ❤️

* * *

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 For confidentiality and privacy purposes, the name of the teacher’s school will not be published, and they may choose how they refer to themselves.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

* * *

Interview With Ms. S:

I’m curious about what’s in those cups, Ms. S.
  1. In no more than three words, describe how you feel right now.

    need ice cream

  2. What is today’s date?

    September 28, 2022

  3. How old are you?

    46

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

    13

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

    Yes, 1.5 years to get a master’s degree and 10 years to raise personal kids.

  6. What is your current salary?

    $65,000

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

    1 husband, 2 sons, 1 cat

  8. In what city and state do you teach?

    North Texas

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

    9-12 Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC), Chemistry, Physics – I teach at a public alternative school that is grades K-12. Some of our high school students are in our academic program which means they are 2 or more years behind in high school credits or are pregnant/ parenting. They generally stay for a semester, but can stay longer. Our DAEP (Disciplinary Alternative Education Program) students (all grades) are with us because they have gotten in trouble. Most of the offenses for high school students are drug use on campus, assault, terroristic threats, or public lewdness (sex on campus). These students are with us for 20 to 45 days.

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

    3

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

    1

  12. How many students do you teach total?

    34 today. This number changes frequently.

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

    Smallest = 1. Largest = 10. Unlike in a regular classroom, subjects are mixed in a class period. So my 6th period only has 4 students, but 2 are taking chemistry, 1 physics, and 1 IPC.

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

    2

  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.)

    Morning breakfast duty, ESL (English as a Second Language) Coordinator

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

    For ESL Coordinator

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

    Last January

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

    I was sick. I filled out two forms, and sent directions for each student to my department head to print and pass on to the sub. I don’t remember if I had a sub or if other teachers had to cover my classes. None of my students completed any work.

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

    I do these engineering design challenges every couple of weeks (build a bridge out of straws that can hold the most weight, build a car that can propel itself, etc.) Some of my most struggling students really excel at these. I run them as competitions. Their reward for winning is a paper star outside the door with their name on it. They are so proud of those stars.

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

    I have a 5th year senior who can’t stay awake. We are lucky to get 20 minutes of work done a day, and I have him for 2 class periods. He says he stays up late watching things on his phone. He is 19, he is an adult, but we can’t convince him to make adult decisions.

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

    I called a parent to tell them how impressed I was with her daughter as a person and a student. The student came in the next day to tell me how happy her mom was about the call.

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

    Our parents don’t always want to be contacted. Some will never answer a call from a school number.

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

    Most have been generally positive.

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

    Mostly positive.

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

    My students can’t have phones on campus. New students go through withdrawals. You’ll see them feeling frantically around their pockets for their phones before realizing they gave them up at the beginning of the day.

    I asked a student why he wasn’t at school the day before. He said he had court. I asked how it went. He said he had to stay out of trouble for 3 months. “Can you?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he said. “I do some pretty dumb s**t.”

    At a training, we were discussing what kinds of disciplinary infractions should be handled in the classroom and what kinds could be referred to the principal. To reinforce my learning, I got to complete a word search covering Level 4 Infractions. Word list included: assault, felony, retaliation, murder, kidnapping, arson, robbery. FYI, these can all be referred to the principal immediately.

    We fill out forms about our DAEP (discipline) students describing their behavior during our time with us. They then go over the comments at a meeting with their campus principal and our staff. One kid came back to my room mad. “Miss, you put on my form that I use inappropriate language in class. Why the f**k would you do that?”

  26. What time did you arrive at work today?

    7:40 A.M.

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

    5:00 (I will end up working another 8 – 10 hours over the weekend)

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

    I had avocado on crackers, an apple, pretzels, a cookie and water. I ate in the classroom of another science teacher. Lunch is 30 minutes.

  29. Describe one success you experienced today.

    Half of my 4th period needed to take a test. The other half stayed quiet. This is a class that is never quiet.

  30. Describe one challenge you experienced today.

    A cockroach climbed up my leg. There may have been screaming.

  31. What time did you complete this survey?

    9:48 P.M.

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

    3

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

    Yes

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

    I meet some very interesting people.


    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.

    ready for bed

* * *

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.

One thought on “Interview With a Teacher #5: Ms. S

  1. ok… that i’ve brought tears to my eyes.  f#ck. 

    Sent from myMail for iOS

    Tuesday, October 11, 2022, 7:03 AM -0500 from

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