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Seeking advice about a teaching opportunity.

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From: Y.R. Brown (imaniyo_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Jul 12 2002 - 12:34:38 PDT


Hi Folks,

I am coming down to the wire in selecting my next teaching opportunity. In
the process of deciding where I will make my teaching home next I have asked
the principals, fine arts directors and human resources directors at the
different districts a select set of questions that provide me with a wealth
of data about school culture, professional development opportunites,
specific classroom space and environmental questions, program funding
process,etc.

Two administrators at a particular middle school were presented with a set
of questions to respond to (see sample of questions below). I received a
letter and a copy of last years student and staff handbooks from the
principals today. The curious thing is they did not answer the questions I
posed. In the letter that accompanied the handbooks the administrators
wrote: " Please review both books at your convenience. We trust that they
will address most of your questions and concerns."

The challenge is that the handbooks only answered maybe two of my questions
in a cursory manner, and the other questions remain unanswered. At this
juncture I think I should give you a bit more background on this matter to
help your respond in a thoughtful and critical way.

During my initial interview with the principals in question I was not asked
any specific content and practices questions and I was not given an
opportunity to ask questions. The principals were impressed with my
portfolio and other support materials I had sent them prior to our meeting.
I was escorted by the Assistant Principal through the building and to see
the classroom I would use if hired. In an effort to bridge the gap between
the actual interview experience and attain information that I was not able
to get during our initial meeting I sent the questions below in hopes of
getting a more complete sense of the opportunity presented to me.

SAMPLE OF QUESTIONS POSED:

Instructional Strategies

1. May I have a copy of the scope and sequence for art at the middle school
level?
5. What types of media resources are available onsite for art?
6. What is the budget for the art program and how is it determined
annually?

Staff/Students/Community

1. Does the staff spend time together outside of normal school hours?
3. How active are teachers in working with community organizations?
4. Tell me about the students who attend this school.
5. How involved are parents in school activities?
7. What do you expect from the art teacher and the program?

Professional Responsibilities

1. What duties other than teaching will I be required to do?
2. If I wanted to host an artist residency at the school to work with my
students, how would the administration support that
activity?
3. How would I go about ordering materials, equipment, etc.?
4. When, how and by whom will my work be evaluated
5. What is the process for addressing physical space and environmental
concerns in the classroom, for example:

¥The Installation of blinds to accommodate the viewing of films and slides
in the classroom.
¥ 6-8Õ tables for working vs. single desk and chairs.
¥The provision of fans, ceiling fans and/or portable A/C units to reduce the
heat and humidity in the classroom. I have a
respiratory condition that is gives me concern when I am in extreme heat or
cold.
¥ The Installation of additional storage and/or shelving.
¥ Bookshelves for research and reference materials for students to use in
the classroom.
¥ The replacement of fluorescent light bulbs to full spectrum/true light
bulbs that better reproduce sunlight and are less
disturbing to children that have learning differences such as ADD(some
children are annoyed/disturbed by the buzzing of
the fluorescent light bulb).
¥ Painting of the room
¥ Installation of blackboards and/or bulletin boards.
¥Provision of a classroom designated (items would be used solely in the art
classroom) slide projector, CD player, Monitor
and VCR (with cart), 2-3 computers, and movie screen

Extracurricular Responsibilities

1. May I have a copy of this year's activity calendar?
2. What parent support for the art program can I expect?
3. Are there student groups involved with the art program at your building?
4. What fund-raising activities have occurred at the school to support the
art program and the media center?

At this juncture I would like to seriously evaluate the teaching opportunity
with the school, but I feel unable to do that until I receive a reply to my
initial queries. I am at a crossroads here and I am getting a funny vibe
that my time at the school could be riddled with this type of communication.
  Please advise. Thank YOU!

Yolanda R. Brown

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