*Names and identifying details have been altered to protect the innocent people who could sue me.

December 31, 2011

How to Become a Teacher While Living in Alaska, in 39 Steps

Step 1: Move to Alaska.

Step 2: Find the school district office and pick up a packet of forms. Attempt to submit name for orientation training; instead, submit name to be notified for when next orientation is scheduled.

Step 3: Fill out I-9 and W-4.

Step 4: Find health records and begin to fill out health questionnaire. Call sister for help matching up vaccination records (DTP, MMR) with disease names (Diptheria, Smallpox, Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus).

Step 5: Discover you were never vaccinated against Smallpox or Typhoid.

Step 6: Check up on the forms for individual health insurance you filed the month before. Begin searching for a walk-in clinic that will fill out your physical/emotional evaluation and, possibly, vaccinate you against diseases you previously thought eradicated from American society.

Step 7: Almost sign the “Oath of Office” form without reading. Upon closer examination, decide to read the Constitution of the State of Alaska before solemnly swearing (or affirming) to support and defend it.

Step 8: Search online for the Alaskan Constitution. Download instead a 255 page “Citizens Guide to the Constitution.”

Step 9: Move on to something else.

Step 10: Begin online application by registering on school district website.

Step 11: Cut and paste name and address from resume into #1 (personal info) and #2 (postal information). Read through vacancies and available positions. Decide that you do not want to apply for the principal, coach, or lifeguard positions. Select “substitute teacher/general.” (Under positions desired, select ELA and confess to having student teaching experience only. Hesitatingly select Theater technician, and admit to having 10 years of experience.)

Step 12: Cut and paste experience and reference sections of resume into #5: experience. Realize with dismay that trading theater for teaching has so far resulted in an 80% pay cut.

Step 13: Cut and paste education section of resume to #8: education. Realize you have no idea what “number of semester hours in major area” even means.

Step 13.5: Email friends from undergrad for help.

Step 14: Save application, and go to undergraduate/graduate school websites to order transcripts.

Step 15: Return to application.

Step 16: Fail to find the MTEL Communication and Literacy test under the drop-down list for #11: Have you completed a Basic Competency Exam? Answer yes anyway, and list it as “other.”

Step 17: Make copy of score results to add to HR packet.

Step 18: Discover, with dismay, that you only meet two of the three the “Highly Qualified” federal standards:
a. Hold a minimum of a Bachelors degree from an Accredited University
b. Hold a current, active, teaching certificate in the state in which you teach
c. Have passed a state-based subject/content area test in the subject(s) in which you teach.
... because your MA teaching certificate, while current, was not activated while teaching as a permanent substitute in Massachusetts during the past year.

Step 19: Describe the skills or attributes necessary for being an outstanding teacher.

Step 20: Describe how to address a wide range of skills in the classroom.

Step 21: Beat head against the wall.

Step 22: Contact three professional references to advise them that an online survey will be heading their way.

Step 23: Read #25: Geographical preference. Call boyfriend to ask what “Small Schools/Fly-in” and “Russian Schools” means.

Step 24: Sign in agreement that the Borough School District may seek to obtain background information on me from third parties, financial sources, employees, State Troopers, and the FBI. Also agree to pay any fees this may incur.

Step 25: Call local non-profit clinic for general physical and discover that the (discounted) cost for the physical is $126.

Step 26: Complete physical: determine emotional stability, accurately hear a word whispered from across the room to prove physical health, pee into a cup to rule out diabetes.

Step 27: Call school nurse to schedule free TB test.

Step 28: Find high school, have TB test shot.

Step 29: Return three days later to have TB test read. (Result: negative.)

Step 30: Spend several hours on the phone trying to track down MA certificate of licensure (first discovering original was lost in the mail 1.5 years ago).

Step 31: Bring packet of documents back to Borough office (W-4, I-9, Health Questionnaire, Physical Examination form, Oath of Office, Cover Letter, Resume, Transcripts, Copy of certificate, copy of MTEL results).

Step 32: Receive phone call about a full-time position opening up in hometown in Massachusetts.

Step 33: Sigh.

Step 34: Attend one-day substitute training seminar to talk about models of education, discipline and classroom management, and why it is inappropriate to hit the children.

Step 35: Narrowly avoid gouging own eyes out with the plastic forks supplied at the lunch break.

Step 36: Begin studying for Praxis exams, to replace rejected MTEL results.

Step 37: Take 4.5 hour Praxis test.

Step 38: Learn from boyfriend that he intends to apply for PhD programs in Texas.

Step 39: Buy a plane ticket home.

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