It’s going to be a very interesting year! And kinda a long read 🙂
I started looking for a job in February. I was hired for my current job in February two years ago and I thought that was when private schools started posting for their jobs. I was wrong. They usually post in late May-July once they know their enrollment. Which was not helpful because I wanted to have this whole thing locked down early so I could start planning. I am switching jobs and moving cities and I need to have it planned. I’m a planner!
When looking for a new job I had some criteria that I needed to fulfill. I was open to any new teaching job, and was fully relying on God to get me where he needs me to be, but I was also not afraid to put in the work. I can’t just sit in my apartment and think “ok God, send me a job offer”, I have to actually search and do interviews and all that hard work.
This is what I was looking for:
- salary of at least $48,000 a year (this would allow me to live on my own and not share an apartment)
- a city with good public transit while I saved up for a car
- a city with decent housing options, less expensive than Toronto
- a city where I can have a social life (dating and hopefully new friends) and find a good church
- closer to either my parents or my brother (I’m in Toronto, my parents are out near London, my brother in Ottawa)
- must have benefits
- must be ok with my tattoos
So it honestly wasn’t a lot of outrageous criteria, but the main thing was the salary. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE my current job and I would stay for ever and ever but I need a livable salary. I can survive on what I make now, but it pains me to say that I’m not making enough to live. I can’t live by myself, I can’t save anything, I have no retirement fund, and I am trying to pay down student loans and get a car. The whole purpose of this new job and relocation was to fix all those things.
But I am also looking exclusively at private schools. Which makes it harder. I can’t take the risk and sign up for a board job because I am a single woman who has bills to pay and I need a steady and reliable job. Not supply teaching. And I have too many bad memories and experiences from the board that I just can’t bring myself to apply even if it’s a great salary and awesome pension.
In February, I started by location. I created bookmarks for all the private and independent schools in the areas I was interested in moving, and for all the ones that didn’t have a careers page on their website I basically “cold called” them via email. Introducing myself and saying I was moving into the area in the summer and was wondering where they would post any staffing needs for the fall. A few replied with thanks and asked for my resume, one was SUPER interested and would get back to me in the summer, two actually gave me the website where they get all their applications from! It was good.
My first interview was in early March. It was for a school in Ottawa. Let’s call it School A. It was the result of one of those emails. The vibe I got from the interview was great! The principal was very lovely and I think her daughter was the other person in the call with us. They agreed to my salary expectations and they said they had a great benefits package. However, they are an ABA school. Which is “applied behaviour analysis” aka a school for students with severe autism or other exceptionalities that would prevent the student from functioning within a traditional classroom. After the interview, I was a very firm NO on them. I gave references though just in case, and told my 3 references that a call might be coming. I referred to the school as a “behaviour school” which it isn’t and that was my mistake.
My second interview was about a week later. School B was a small private school in a small community about a 45 minute drive from my parents. It fit all the criteria before the interview aside from salary and benefits which weren’t posted. I had the phone call interview and learned that this school was not the right place for me. Their salary was low ($40-50,000), no benefits at all, it was only a maternity coverage with a maybe possibility for continuing the next year, it would be a class with THREE grades in it 4/5/6, and the school seemed a little too laid back for me. “when it’s nice out we cancel afternoon classes and play baseball with the students”. I’m a flexible teacher but not that flexible. Plus I’m not going to move to just have to find another job the following September. It’s too small of a community for that.
School C was again in Ottawa. This time a Christian school. I was SOOOO excited for it! They sent some documents before hand to review, one being a morality code for teachers. This threw me off to be honest. I didn’t disagree with anything in it, being a Christian myself, but it was a little weird to receive it. In the interview they explained they had benefits after a year, and a pension plan on par with the public board (I asked a friend and she said it was amazing). I asked about salary and was told the principal would do the calculations and get back to me. It would be about 70% of the public board salary. But then one of the vice principals asked me if I was ok with the morality code. I said yes of course, I follow all those rules anyway as a practicing Christian. He pushed a little further and said “and about sending your own children to a Christian school? That means elementary and high school” I laughed it off and said it wasn’t even a consideration for me at this point, and moved on. But basically what they were saying was that if I ever have children and choose not to put them into a Christian school not only am I a bad Christian but I would probably no longer be welcome as part of their faculty. This took a few days to actually sink in. I had sent my references and notified the people who needed to be notified. I was very excited and was rooting for this school. Until it all sunk in. As days passed, I kept getting more and more ick about it.
At this point, it’s getting into early May. And my stress is high. LIKE HIGH. My backup plan was to move in with my brother if I had no job offers and get myself situated in Ottawa with him while finding a job of my own. I was relying heavily on daily prayer – just asking for one decent offer. I didn’t even need choices, I just needed one.
I reached out to a few of the jobs I had applied for and one said I wasn’t contacted probably because I had never taught at one of the schools in their charter, and another said they had filled the position but would need one more teacher if they could get the tuition funds for it. School A set up a second interview and I thought it went WAY worse than the first time around, but knowing more about them, I found myself being drawn to the idea of working there. School C had reached out at this point and said they were still working on what needed to be filled and would keep me posted.
And then! Just as I had set up two new interviews, School A called and offered me a job!!! I had about 4 days to consider their offer and reply. I signed the contract OBVIOUSLY and sent it back. But I still had two more interviews lined up and I was going to honor them. I told myself I would look until June 11th and then stop. I have to plan to move after that.
School D was a small independent private school in a city close to Toronto. It’s basically on the outskirts of GTA but far enough to get lower rent prices. It seemed like a good possibility until I had the interview. They all looked like cookie cutter barbie, and their part of the interview consisted of 2 questions. TWO! It was over in less than 10 minutes before they asked if I had any questions. I did of course and learned a bit more about them. When I asked about compensation packages I was met with an eye roll and asked “what are you expecting?”. Later I saw another job post for them stating $15-20 an hour pay…. pay per hour is never a good sign for a school in my opinion. They forced the issue that all their students are working above grade level and communication with parents would be my key responsibility – monthly news letters AND weekly updates were mandatory every week.
School E I was SOOOOO excited for! They hit EVERY SINGLE requirement going into the interview. And my friend from teacher’s college lives in the city where it would be and she said they have an amazing reputation. The interview was GREAT! I loved it!!!! Salary was $38,000 so it was a clear NOOOO.
School C reached out after 3 weeks of silence, and no email about salary expectations, to let me know that they had filled all their positions.
So God was making it pretty clear that School A was it. The “waiting for tuition” school did reach out and offer me an interview but by that point I had already publicly announced my acceptance of School A.
I’m not sure what next year is going to look like. I have some experience with students with exceptionalities but none this severe. I do have my Special Education Part 1 additional qualification so I will go over my notes from that course this summer and do some hard research into ABA techniques. I am their new “elementary teacher” which means that my class will probably be grades 1-3, but only about 4-8 students I think. Everyone will have their own EA, and educational professionals (therapists, psychologists etc) are common place in the classroom to help modify and adjust any IEP’s that need to be adjusted to allow the students to thrive.
I am both excited and TERRIFIED of what is to come. But I am ready for the challenge!! And now onto the challenge of finding an apartment haha! Which again is in God’s hands and I only need one good prospect.