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 For confidentiality and privacy purposes, the name of the teacher’s school will not be published, and they may choose how they refer to themselves.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

    58

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

    8

  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?

    $50,000

  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?

    1

  12. How many students do you teach total?

    100

  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?

    1-2

  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.)

    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)

    3

  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.

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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!

October Vibes & November News

Happy Almost-Halloween!

October is coming to an end. While it’s sad to bid my favorite month farewell, It’s satisfying to know that I have squeezed every last drop of Octoberness out of it. From pumpkin collecting to cookie decorating, from scary movie watching to haunted trail hiking, from bundling up for the first fall cold front to embracing my inner witch, I’ve truly gotten the most out of these spooky weeks. I even got scared by one of my own Halloween decorations once, which I call a win.

Now all that’s left of October is carving jack-o-lanterns and hoping a few trick-or-treaters stop by so I can strike fear into their little hearts and then give them candy. And if no one comes, well that’s more Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for me.

Although October is wrapping up, there won’t be time to wallow in post-Halloween blues because November is bringing its own set of exciting events.

What’s Next?

School Visits

While I’m happy not to be a full-time teacher anymore, I miss interacting with students and sharing my love of books and words with them, so I’m eager to get back into the classroom as an author. Check out the workshops and presentations I offer and consider hiring me for a visit. If you know a teacher who might be interested in a ghost story workshop or poetry presentation for their 5th-8th grade classes, share my website with them, or send them this flyer.

Texas Book Festival

Next weekend, I’m headed back to Austin to participate in the Texas Book Festival. Stop by the Writers’ League of Texas booth on Sunday, November 6th at 1:00 P.M. for a signed copy of one of my Spooky America books!

Haunted Dallas

Speaking of Spooky America, I’m excited to share that I’ll be adapting Rita Cook’s Haunted Dallas for middle grade readers! The Ghostly Tales of Dallas will be available in Spring 2023. So this November, when I’m not hanging out at the Texas Book Fest, or visiting schools, or eating green bean casserole and pumpkin pie, I’ll be busy learning about all the creepy characters that haunt the DFW area. I can’t wait. 👻

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What do the next few weeks have in store for you?
Share your news in the comments!

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!

* * *

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 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

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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!