Monday, September 2, 2013

Part II: The Test and the Call

Since the job had been temporarily put on ice, I threw myself into hours of studying for the WEST-E, the test upon which my residency teaching certificate was dependent.  I ordered a study guide online from a company that produces such products but is not related to the company that actually writes the test.  I was immediately overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of its content.

However, I diligently followed the suggested course of study which began with reading the entire study guide cover to cover.  I then went through a second time to highlight troublesome content and make notes in the margins.  I felt quite confident in the language arts, humanities and health and fitness.  I thought I'd be OK with the math once I reviewed formulas and terms, but the science seemed impossible.  The content covered everything from thermodynamics and geological eras to hydrocarbons and eukaryotic cells.

Once I felt I studied the material sufficiently, I took as many practice tests as I could find online.  They were always very difficult and I consistently struggled with the science.

I scheduled the test--which cost over a hundred dollars--for the end of July, figuring it would be to my benefit to get it out of the way before the interviewing process resumed.  After hours upon hours of preparation, I felt as ready as I could ever be.  The computer based test was made up of two subtests, each with 50 questions.  The first subtest evaluated my knowledge of math, science and health and fitness.  The second test contained questions on language arts, social studies and fine arts.  Both were terribly difficult and to my dismay, the study guide did not prepare me with the necessary information, particularly in the areas of social studies and science.

Luckily, I enjoy reading memoirs and non-fiction is often my genre of choice.  That came in handy for the social studies portion of subtest two.  I'd read memoirs about the history of South Africa and the Chinese cultural revolution.  My sister-in-law's blog about her recent trip to Ireland even came in handy.  But I don't read science text books, so you can probably guess where this is going.

I submitted my answers  and then waited for my pass/fail printout to be presented by test administrator.

I willed my eyes to hold back the impending floodgates until I reached the privacy of my car.  There I melted into a big, ugly sob.  It was a good five minutes before I regained enough composure to safely drive home, but the tears of discouragement and embarrassment fell down my cheeks for the next hour.  I felt stupid, incapable and just flat out beat down.

I would have to wait a whole month to receive the official report which showed that it was indeed the science that kept me from passing.  The most frustrating part?  I missed passing by one or two questions.  And I'd have to wait 45 days to attempt a retake.  This put my certificate on hold and also meant I'd have to go back to studying. Ugh!

The second interviewing pool was pushed back from its original date due to district employees' vacations and I don't know what else.  All I know is it was mid-August before I went in for another district-level interview.

In the meantime, I heard again from my would-be job share partner.  She told me about the supplies she'd purchased for the classroom and then said, "I just want us to be able to be in the room and working together on organizing the cabinets, shelves, room placement.  Not to mention all the super fun times planning together!"

The second interview was much like the first, only this time, my principal was on the panel of interviewers.  Most of the scripted questions were the same but a few were different.  Still, I left feeling fairly confident.

The next day, the principal called to tell me that I had nailed the interview but that he was going forward with [the wife of the principal down the street.]  His reason?  Her previous professional experience was in kindergarten.  Mine was in first grade.  I wasn't even given the opportunity to have the more personal, principal interview that was supposed to be the next step in the hiring process.  Shock, disbelief, bitterness and confusion accompanied the deep sting of rejection.

The principal did give his sincerest apologies for leading me down this path.  "I care about you and feel so guilty.  I meant what I said that I want you on our staff.  I think highly of you and blah...blah...blah..." it all sounded like hot air at that point.

I took comfort in knowing that this outcome must have been what was best for me even if it didn't feel like that at the moment.  But I wasn't at all prepared for the fact that this roller coaster ride was not nearly over yet.  There were many more twists and turns to go.


Camille said...

I've heard this story, but I still love to read about it. You tell it so well, I'm just glad it has a good ending.

Granny said...


Jen said...

Um, some of us are still waiting for the ending! I agree and love your writing :)