Tuesday, March 30, 2010

References Provided Upon Request... Or Not

As with any field, references are important when applying for a teaching job.  Actually, it depends on the job.  I'm pretty sure I was hired for my first job because I was the only candidate wanting to take over a first grade in the ghetto with no set classroom and six previous teachers/subs.  However, references are usually important when applying for a teaching job.

Obtaining that reference - whether it be in the form of a letter or just contact information - can be easier said than done, especially if you work in a district that chews up employees and spits them out. Even before I needed references to apply for this part-time position, I began the process of trying to collect them.  I knew that I would eventually need letters of recommendation for a position; I just wasn't sure when.  I decided to approach my last four administrators.

One of them, who know works in a neighboring district, and was a wonderful principal, wrote me a glowing recommendation full of personal details and told me that she would be happy to be a reference for me any time I needed.  Sadly, she was the exception.

The other three simply ignored me.

One of them, who has always had a habit of ignoring my emails when they're something she doesn't want to deal with, never got back to me.  I tried her twice, and then I emailed one more time saying that I knew a special needs student who was transferring to her school... nothing.  Awesome.

Another, who was my assistant principal and is now a principal, has also ignored me.  I've emailed her three times.  The last time, I even gave her an out and said that I knew she was very busy and could she just let me know if she didn't have time.  Nothing.  I put her on my application to be a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters and she never answered them either.  Not by phone or by email.  Great.  Thanks for helping me help others.  This person, although I've never felt like she liked me personally, has told me many times that she credits me with the volunteers and resources which have helped out her school, even years after I left.  I know she thinks I'm a good teacher.  She apparently just can't be bothered with me now.

Another one, who I taught with for six years, has also ignored me three times.  This teacher got fired unjustly under one of our worst principals, and I was one of the people (because I was tenured and therefore out of danger) who fought to get him back.  He called me at home for help more than once.  I spent a lot of time and effort helping him in various ways.  But he doesn't even have the decency to return an email.

All three of these people are still in the district, I have the correct email address for all three of them, and all three of them saw me teach well.  I have received emails from all three in the past, so I know that they do use email.  They just couldn't be bothered?  Couldn't find the time to type "I'm sorry, I don't have time?"  Couldn't pick up the phone to tell the Big Brothers woman "Yes, she'd be good?"

Now, I've been asked for letters of recommendation when I didn't have time to write them.  I've always written them anyway.  I've asked people for letters when they didn't have time and they either told me that they didn't have time, asked me if they could do it over the summer, or asked me to write a draft that they could just polish and sign to save them time.  I would have accepted all of these options, and been grateful for any.  But to just ignore someone?  Doesn't that seem awfully unprofessional and just... rude?  Am I wrong in being so irritated by this?  Would this ever work in the business world?

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