Interview With a Teacher #8: Mrs. H

Oh my goodness, this interview really got to me. I’ve seen how much the pandemic has changed social behavior in middle schoolers, but it hadn’t occurred to me how little (if any) “normal” school years our elementary kids have had. It’s obvious how hard this teacher works based on her sub plans and her extra duties and her answers to questions #19 and #34, but it’s also clear how hard things are for her. Thank you, Mrs. H, for everything you do. Hang in there!

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 For confidentiality and privacy purposes, the name of the teacher’s school will not be published, and they may choose how they refer to themselves.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

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

    Exhausted

  2. What is today’s date?

    October 9, 2022

  3. How old are you?

    37

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

    16

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

    The only break I have taken from teaching was maternity leave.

  6. What is your current salary?

    To be honest I’m not sure, I think around $60,000.

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

    I am a mom of toddler twins.

  8. In what city and state do you teach?

    North Dallas

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

    4th Grade ELAR (English Language Arts and Reading)

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

    11

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

    1

  12. How many students do you teach total?

    45

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

    I have 22 in my smallest class, and 23 in my other class.

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

    At the very least 5. Some are during my conference period and others are after school.

  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.)

    I have taken a step back this year, but in years past I have been the student council sponsor, the lead mentor, mentor, year book sponsor, and spelling bee sponsor. I am currently on the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) committee, literacy chair person, team lead, and mentor teacher to two new teachers.

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

    I get a $250 stipend for being a mentor.

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

    I had to take a day off for a doctors appointment in September.

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

    In order to be out for a planned absence I had to find a sub prior to the absence being approved by admin. This sounds easy enough, but due to a sub shortage it’s almost impossible to find someone. I had to create lesson plans (separate from the plans I had already, as I was told my plans were asking too much). I guess asking a sub to teach is no longer acceptable. I had to create and print a split list (a list showing what other teachers’ classes students would be sent to) in case the sub didn’t show or wasn’t able to handle the kids and needed to leave.

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

    I have a student who built a reputation for himself last year. He isn’t the kid everyone hopes to get in their class if you know what I mean. He has been amazing for me this year and is even my helper. He told me that I’m the only teacher that’s ever been nice to him.

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

    I have students that haven’t been in school since 1st grade due to Covid. Their social skills are lacking and they struggle to express themselves. This leads to outbursts that are harmful to themselves, others, and the learning environment. Students throw desks and chairs. I even had a student knock over my bookshelves and throw my classroom library all over the room.

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

    I have not had a single parent thank me or send even a note of support.

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

    The biggest struggle I am having with parents in general is a lack of support. I have 0 parent involvement. I set up evening conferences in September to allow parents an opportunity to meet with me and discuss goals for their students. I had 2 parents show up.

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

    My team is amazing. We work hard to support each other and find things to laugh about daily.

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

    Our campus is full of new teachers that don’t know what they are doing. It’s not completely their fault, but when I try to offer help or advice they want me to fix the problem for them. It seems like hard work is a thing of the past.

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

    It has to be that we have recess from 11:50-12:10 everyday. But on Wednesdays the city tests the tornado sirens that happen to be on school property. Every single Wednesday when the sirens go off, our students run across the playground covering their ears TOWARDS the siren! We crack up every time.

  26. What time did you arrive at work today?

    7:15 A.M.

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

    4:15 P.M.

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

    Today I ate lunch during my planning because I had to help resolve a conflict in the cafeteria.

  29. Describe one success you experienced today.

    My students did really well on the text structure mini quiz. It’s a hard thing for 4th graders, but the hand motions and song I taught them must have really helped.

  30. Describe one challenge you experienced today.

    A parent didn’t pick up their student until 4, because they needed to run some errands.

  31. What time did you complete this survey?

    8:33 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?

    I’m not sure. If I do, I will be looking for a new school.

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

    The relationships that you build with students. I have students that have went off to college that still keep in touch. I love getting their emails.


    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.

    Seen and heard

* * *

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.

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