Secret Teacher: our school is closing, so what’s next for my career?

As an older staff member on a sinking ship, this week’s Secret Teacher has found job seeking as a mature candidate a challenging and frustrating experience. This is from the Guardian…

As another New Year came around with the attending “same old, same old” feelings, I had to remind myself that this year it isn’t going to be exactly the same at all. In a school that’s closing where everyone’s job will soon be up for review, it’s more like “different new, different new”. And no doubt when the axe falls on me this year, my head, who dislikes confrontation so much she excuses herself when you bump into her in the corridors, will hopefully get the school secretary to do the necessary.

I have been looking for jobs, wearily checking any site for those seeking work in my area and with my price tag. It feels like climbing Mount Everest with a dodgy knee. Or being one of the Grumpy Old Men, sitting over a minute icehole, through which only the tiniest minnow could be caught.

The two jobs that I have managed to acquire through the application process in education so far have both been in leaky ships. It reminds me of the Marx brothers line: “Who’d want to belong to a club that would have me as a member?”

The first job I got was actually a mistake. My mad head of department thought I was the candidate with the computer knowledge, only to find out later that finding the on/off button proved to be a bit of a challenge to me.

But the idea of being selected for a role throws up all sorts of emotional curve balls from childhood when being picked for netball teams, or sporting events. It was usually left to the two worst, me and the other girl, and the teams haggling over who was going to be the lesser of two evils.

Now with teaching applications you don’t know why you’ve not been picked because no one has the decency to tell you. Every application I send electronically seems to float off without a trace, maybe washed up on the shores of an outpost in cyberspace where all the loser applications bob around like discarded plastic bottles.

However, on the one occasion a school did get back to me, it was even worse. I was told I wasn’t picked for an interview because it was a particularly strong field – the implication being of course is that I belong in a weak field.

It’s difficult to rouse the energy to even fill in an application form. After spending an interminable time remembering your CV chronologically and typing it into a dodgy electronic format that is not compatible with your computer, any energy you have left for your sales pitch (sorry, the statement) reads like a third-grade English essay. And then I did this and then I did that and so on and so on. In the nightmare that is an older teacher making a job application, there’s an inevitability to it all that feels frankly discriminatory and depressing…

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