I interviewed yesterday in a tinsey, itty bitty, small town (wal-mart will not build in a place with fewer than 20,000 people and I didn’t see a wal-mart for miles and miles and miles), for a position teaching high school English. Now, most interviews I’ve been on have been all about pedagogy and classroom management. This was a bit different. I brought in samples of lesson plans I’ve written and assessment rubrics and the like, but they barely glanced at them.
I know that in theory, a diverse background is supposed to be a good thing, but no one here in Arkansas can ever even relate in the slightest bit to living overseas. Truly, I’ve learned to just not talk about it because most people think I’m talking about Thailand and will ask about the ramen noodles there, or they just seem to have an complex and think I must think I’m better than they are because I flew on a big airplane. So, I don’t usually mention anything about it anymore.
I have listed my language skills in Spanish and Mandarin on my resume, however, and the superintendent was very interested in talking about them, though never asked me to speak a word of either. In fact, he started out asking me to talk about myself and I didn’t mention anything at all about any of that. I was interviewing to teach English, after all. He then asked me directly to talk about my foreign experiences and asked me to teach Spanish and Mandarin.
Spanish was my second language and I could teach it—next August. I need to pass content knowledge praxis exams for Spanish and it’s been ten years sense I really used it, so I’d like to study a bit. Mandarin, boy I would never have thought of teaching Mandarin! But there is still no standard for the teaching of Mandarin or Japanese (which I have 8 hours of on my undergrad transcript, but they don’t know that yet) and I would be free to teach what I know of it in elementary school. I might consider this. I’ve forgotten more Mandarin than I realized I knew since I’ve been here, I’m sure, but I have a good base and only have to be one step ahead of my students—so long as it doesn’t go beyond beginning classes. It also means I’d be writing the curriculum as I go along.
They also seemed to wonder about National Taiwan Normal University, listed on my resume because I taught in the language center there for a time, not long before I left Taiwan. They had a lot of questions, really, about how someone just moves to another country, or studies so many languages. They really seemed impressed at times, and totally dumbstruck at others.
They did not ask me much about teaching, other than what is my preferred position, high school or middle school, as they have two positions open for English. And even then they looked at me like I was mad when I answered truthfully that, because of a class I have this semester I might be willing to give middle school a chance, though I would not have before-- and went on and on about how eighth grade was the most difficult time in a boy’s life. (It was odd because it was like a mantra or something.) And when I was walking out the door. . . .
One of them MIGHT have called me a bold, bald-faced liar. It sounded like that to my mind when I was thinking it over later.
What do you say? Are they just awestricken by actually meeting a real person who lived overseas? After all, this is a VERY small town. Or did they have me in just to have a little fun with my wildly diverse resume? They’re supposed to be back to me before the end of the week and I’ll let you know—but what’s your take? Was I so deep in the delta that even I am having culture shock—or was it them.