Interview Bloopers

a.k.a. ”What Not to Say During a Teaching Interview” (or any interview for that matter)

Enter cast: Principal, Vice Principal, Interviewee (me!)

Vice Principal: So I talked with your mom last week while trying to get a hold of you…

Me: Oh yes, she’s really good at explaining why my phone number has changed again.

Principal raises eyebrows.

Me: (Realizing that sounds like I’m irresponsible) I mean, why my international number changed to a Chicago cellular number…

Principal: (a very Hispanic, well-educated businessman) So what did you teach while in Costa RRRRica (He rolls his RRRs to emphasize his hispanic-ness?)

Me: While in Costa RRRica (I attempt to roll my RRR too but it doesn’t work as well… I think then I just look dumb), I taught English as a Second Language in 4th grade and 5th grade.

Vice Principal: What reading curriculum do you currently work with?

Me: Well, my district gave me the Making Meaning curriculum, but I have found that it is too advanced for my students, so I have supplemented it with the structure of the Daily 5, strategies from CAFE Literacy, and by giving students lots of time to read independently.

Vice Principal: You mean, you’re not following your district’s curriculum? (Her brow is furrowed… uh-oh, not good…)

Me: Um… well, no. I understand that as a teacher I have the flexibility to decide what is best for meeting my students’ needs. I okay-ed the other materials with my current principal.

Principal: So you’re allowed to choose what you teach? How are you sure you’ve taught everything as well as you should? (His arms are crossed, this isn’t going well…)

Me: I have a checklist of objectives that I am sure to cover. I also check with the Illinois Standards and Common Core Standards to be sure I have covered everything.

Vice Principal: Well here at our school we have very structured days, plans, and lessons. We have Guided Reading followed by Read Aloud followed by … (She keeps talking but I kind of zone out from all the structure… yikes! Maybe not my style….) Do you think you could adapt to teaching within such a structure?

Me: Of course! (I don’t think my voice sounds confident enough!)


All that to say… that particular interview did not go well. When I walked out, I felt like I was defending what I do instead of describing what I can do with a group of students.

Thankfully, I had another interview a week later for a position I really wanted. Because the previous interview had not gone as planned, I was over-prepared for this one. I had quick, confident answers ready for each question from the panel of 4 (Principal, bilingual teacher, gifted teacher, the Director of Gifted Education… you know, the usual lol). By the time I left, all were smiling at each other like, ”We found our next teacher!”

So an interview-bloopers-post is turning into a job-announcement-post —

For the 2012-2013 school year, I will still be in the same district as a 4th Grade SET SWAS teacher (Spanish-English-Transition School-Within-A-School Teacher)… a.k.a. working in the gifted bilingual department!!! : )



Not Just One… TWO Pick-Me-Ups

Weekend homework: Write a letter to the person of your choice. Here’s two letters I graded yesterday:

Dear Miss. Siscoe I am so happy for wat you have done for me. You have shod my how to speel words. How to read lots and lots faster. So thank you for all the stuf. Stay cool

Sensirly Tomas

And if that wasn’t enough to encourage me, I graded another one:

Dear: Mrs. Siscoe

Thanks for all you done for teaching and being a good teacher. You teached alot of things like writting I became better at writting and at science I learned about clouds and the solar system.



Now I can’t help but wonder… Because these letters are graded, is this just brown-nosing? Do I grade spelling and punctuation, grammar, or content? : )

Big Brother’s Baby Voice

I’m not one to label students, but here is a definite label: Mario is a whiner. At first I wondered if it was just my opinion, but throughout the school year, other teachers have confirmed my thoughts. He whines when he doesn’t get his way and when he does get his way. It’s a lose-lose situation.

I say, “Where’s your homework?”

Mario whines in a baby voice, “On the kitchen table at home…”

I ask, “Do you have your signed detention slip?”

Mario whines still in the baby voice, “I showed it to my mom but she didn’t sign it.”

Responsibility consequences in my classroom: lost recess. I attempt to impart the value of responsibility with my motto of “Earn your recess.” Unfortunately, Mario doesn’t seem to mind staying in for recess.

Then a few mornings ago, I got a glimpse into Mario’s life. He and his kindergarten brother, Miguel, arrived in the classroom about 40 minutes before school started. Mario politely asked if Miguel could stay in the classroom until school started. I said sure, surprised by Mario’s un-whining politeness. I again became engrossed in my before-school tasks, and all at once, I noticed how Mario’s tone of voice was different. He was talking softly, almost gently, helping Miguel with his addition facts homework.

I had a flashback to the beginning of the school year when I gave students my typical get-to-know-you survey. The question was “What do you think Miss Siscoe should know about you?” and Mario had written, “My dad died last year in a work accident.” I remember the impact that had on how I interacted with Mario at the beginning of the school year, but for some reason or another, my compassion had since disappeared.

Now witnessing firsthand what Mario probably does everyday at home, I had a new compassion. Mario has to use his “big brother” voice at home… so I guess it’s okay if he uses the “baby voice” at school… sometimes.

We’ll keep working on Mario’s responsibility for his own homework : )


Unexpected Fish

Yessenia was absent all last week due to illness. She arrived on Monday morning bright and cheery about a half hour before school began and she promptly began on her make-up work. I am busy at my desk, focused on some then-important task.

“Uh… Miss Siscoe?”

“Yes, Yessenia?” I reply absentmindedly. I am mentally buried in whatever I was so focused on.

“Um… Is it okay to bring animals to school?”

Suddenly surprised out of my mental concentration, I look up at her perplexed facial expression.

“What do you mean, Yessenia?”

“Well… I have a fish in my pocket!”

Yessenia has told me before that she goes with her dad to work sometimes, and they take beta fish from large containers and put them in snack-size Ziplocs to ship the beta to pet stores.

Knowing her work with beta fish, I ask, “Is it from your job?”

“Yes… What should I do?” She brings the Ziploc-beta-bag over to my desk for me to inspect.

“Hmm… Let’s get a cup with water so he’ll have more swimming room today.”

All day students were asking if we got a fish for real. My reply was that the fish was just visiting. He went home with Yessenia at the end of the day.

Who says, “I have a fish in my pocket”? I loved the surprise and laughed out loud about it later as I told some friends. : )


Check and Bounce That Humiliation

Sorry, I’m not providing a photo of my bounced check.

Yes, that’s right, I’m stuck in the olden days (a.k.a. the 80s and 90s when check writing was the up-and-coming-technology for paying at the grocery store). Apparently in these now-a-days when debit cards are more popular, it’s also popular to steal debit card numbers…

So I get a call from my bank on Thursday. Wait, it wasn’t just one call — it was actually 5 calls. When I finally gave in to the pressure to answer the “1-800” number that was constantly calling, the banker asks me, “Ma’am, are you in Europe?” I wish! “No…” I reply uncertainly. The banker proceeds to explain to me that someone in Europe was using my debit card number at outdoorsy stores and did I recognize the transactions? “No sir, I did not spend $100 on fishing gear yesterday…”

So here I am, debit card cancelled and check book currently in action… That is, until I got to the grocery store today.

Well, the check didn’t exactly bounce. “The maquina won’t accept it,” the latina cashier told me. She looked pretty sympathetic. I felt pretty embarrassed.

While this woman is looking at me sympathetically, I had a flashback to one of those Costa Rica travel moments when I was laying on the beach reading The Kite Runner all day. The main character, Amir, recounts fleeing Afghanistan with his father, Baba, and their attempts to start a new life in California. There is a culture shock moment when Baba needs to pay at a grocery store. In Afghanistan, Baba was such a prominent figure in the community that he had a sort of “credit system” with storeowners — They would make marks on a piece of wood to show how much Baba owed the store, and he would always pay his debts at the end of the month. In the United States, this make-a-mark-on-my-stick system would never fly. When Baba realizes the cashier doesn’t trust him, he is in hysterics as Amir tries to explain to the store owner that his father will pay his debts. Baba and Amir are kicked out of the store empty-handed.

Like Baba, I wanted to say, “But I’m trustworthy!!!” instead I said, “If the check won’t go through, then I cannot pay for these groceries.” That’s like the ultimate humiliation: looking like I am using fraud checks to buy my groceries.

I sure hope my new debit card hurries up and arrives in my mailbox soon. Then I’ll go buy those groceries!

Gardening in My Skinny Jeans

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Yes, you read that right. In my skinny jeans. I figured I needed to wash them anyway, so why not garden in them? Haha.

After living in Costa Rica for several years, I was finally able to take advantage of Mom´s perennial generosity. Mom was excited to share her flowers and I was excited to receive : ). We dug in her garden to our hearts’ content on Saturday (actually until it started raining and we were running for cover) and today I dug to my heart’s content (actually until I ran out of things to plant : )). I’m excited for the garden to not look so… droopy, haha. We can look forward to yellow and orange day lilies, purple cone flowers, black-eyed susans, yellow buttercup, snapdragons, and another flower that I forgot its name : ). There’s also a miniature forsythia bush that will bud yellow next spring. Oh, and you can’t forget the hostas. : )

Flowers from Mom: free

Mulch: $5

Childhood favorite Snapdragons: $4

Dirt under my fingernails: priceless