Interview With a Teacher #9: S.S.

We’re back in high school with this week’s interview. Thank you to S.S. for answering my questions! I loved reading about the positive parent interactions and the weekly venting/idea-generating coffee date with the coworker. Those conversations are so important. And yes, self care CAN look like a cup of coffee in the breakroom after school; it takes many forms.

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 For confidentiality and privacy purposes, the name of the teacher’s school will not be published, and they may choose how they refer to themselves.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

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

    Tired. Worried. Isolated.

  2. What is today’s date?

    October 10, 2022

  3. How old are you?


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


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

    Taught 1 year high school–> 3 yr clinical research–> 3 yr after school program–> 2 yr environmental work –> (earned Masters degree & moved)–> 5 yr substitute teacher (various major life events)–> 1 year YMCA–> 7 yr high school teacher

  6. What is your current salary?


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

    I’m a poet and write children’s books. I am divorced and live with my dog. My son works overseas. His family lives in another country.

  8. In what city and state do you teach?

    Palacios, TX

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

    Senior English, Literary genres, Yearbook

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

    1st year

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


  12. How many students do you teach total?


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

    8 students/2 classes (extra help) 26 in largest.

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


  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.)

    Duty every 6 weeks. UIL. Yearbook.

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

    UIL-small amount/$1,400 for yearbook

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

    I had to take a test, does that count?

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

    I have to get absence approved 2 days in advance. I have emergency plans on file. I print 2 copies of rosters for all my classes, leave a sub note with directions and location of materials for each period including medical alerts, SPED and ELL modifications as needed, seating chart, phone extension list, reliable student list, emergency plans, etc. It takes 2-3 hours to prepare for a sub. (What other job has that kind of demand for a day off?)

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

    Most of my interactions are positive. My students are generally kind. I gave a writing assignment of 2 paragraphs about a hero’s journey, and some students wrote long, detailed stories that they were excited to write.

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

    Every day is a challenge with certain students. Today I had 3 students who decided to lie on the floor and not do any work. In another class, a group of 3 boys would not quit laughing and talking. They just wanted to play and refused to sit where I told them. Yes, referrals and/or parent contacts for both situations.

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

    When I call parents they are always happy to hear from me and want to make sure the behavior or missing grades is resolved.

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

    None. Some calls are dreaded, but the outcome is positive.

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

    I have a coffee buddy. We have coffee about once a week either after school in the break room or the local coffee shop. We vent about the job and get ideas from each other.

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

    I keep messing up my attendance. I’m fairly certain the attendance person would fire me if she could, but I can’t blame her. I hide from her– and I am trying different things to be more accurate and remember to take attendance.

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

    We now have chain link fencing around the school and the exterior doors have to remain locked. Students who are late have to walk around the building.

  26. What time did you arrive at work today?

    7:30 A.M.

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

    4:00 P.M. (typically it’s closer to 5:30 P.M.)

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

    Microwave popcorn and Coke in the breakroom.

  29. Describe one success you experienced today.

    I finished grading those last papers from a week ago and entered the grade.

  30. Describe one challenge you experienced today.

    The talkative boys previously mentioned. I was really angry with them.

  31. What time did you complete this survey?

    7:40 P.M.

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


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

    I don’t want to.

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

    Time off in summer and holidays.

    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. Unhealthy. Discouraged.

* * *

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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