One man's struggles to be a teacher

Anonymous Letter

Since I wrote that e-mail to you, I have succeeded in getting placed on the substitute teacher list for the X Unified School District. This did not happen easily.

I applied last fall, even getting the fingerprinting done, and though they added many substitutes to their list in December, I was not one of them. I enlisted the aid of several teachers I knew in the District to call on my behalf and request that I be added to the sub list. I pestered the HR office with repeated calls. All of this was to no avail.

Then, inexplicably, I got a call from the female principal of an elementary school in X asking me to come in to interview for a long term sub position. I have no idea how this happened, but I assume that it stemmed from one of the many applications I submitted to the District every time there was a job posting. Perhaps I was the token male on the interview list. [I know that souncs cynical, by my application count is now over 100; I have an exceedingly stong resume; I have been applying for elementary teaching jobs for a year and a half at this point; this was only my second interview].

I went to the interview and while the principal did not award this job to me, she called later to ask if I would be willing to be the PE teacher for the school. I found this amusing because I have a multiple subjects credential, not a single subject PE credential. Evidently, she was impressed with my long coaching experience (13 years as a club coach with a USA Swimming affiliated team and 5 years as head coach of the men's and women's swim teams at X High School in the city of X).

Naturally, I said yes. However, she later called back to say that she could not hire me until my name was placed on the substitute list. I related my experiences with HR to her and requested that she make a call on my behalf to get me added to the sub list. She did. I again enlisted my friends who were teachers in the District, even asking them to get other teachers they knew to call on my behalf. They all did. I again pestered HR. Whenever I called, I was always told by the HR person that they had enough subs and that the District would not add any more for the current academic year.

The principal was aghast when I related this to her. She said they routinely had trouble finding substitutes, especially good ones. My teacher friends were appalled because most of the substitutes they received through the District were uncredentialled. I asked the principal to call, again. I asked my friends to call, again. They all did. I kept calling, too. Two and a half months later I was finally called to come in to HR for an interview to be placed on the sub list.

Needless to say, the position that was available to me two and a half months earlier was now gone. But, for the last two months of the school year, I can at least sub for my friends and any other District teacher who would like to have me.

Then, my name drops off the list and I will have to re-apply for the next academic year. Do women who want to teach have to go through this debilitating, dehumanizing grind? I have to wonder. My friends who teach, all of whom are female, cannot understand or appreciate the difficulties I endure. They simply do not get it. If it takes this kind of Herculean effort just to get my name on a list of substitute teachers, what, in God's name, is it going to take to land a real teaching position?

I have decided, too, to look afar for a teaching job. I may interview for a position at the American School in Iceland, though I note that its staff is 100% female. At any rate, I've contacted them and they have at least expressed an interest in allowing me to apply for a position for next fall. I am hoping that my being Icelandic may weigh in my favor. I am also looking at the UK and Ireland where, it appears to me, male teachers have a little less of the stigma that they do here.

Male Teacher