How can I support my spouse in their job search
July 20, 2011 9:09 AM   Subscribe

How can I best support my partner during their teaching job search?

My partner is nearing the end of a master's in education (M.Ed.) program. S/he has also just finished her/his first intern year and passed all certification tests.. S/he has had previous teaching experience (many years ago though, through a teach for america type program), and great references. I just can't figure out why no one has called to schedule an interview? S/he's a catch!!!

It's heartbreaking for me, but I'm not even the one experiencing it. S/he's getting very discouraged especially as the start of a new school year approaches without any new leads..

If you were in her/his position, what would you want your partner to do for you? What can I do to help? I want very much to help but don't know how best to do it.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total)
Try to find positive elements in everything. S/he might not get a full-time job, but s/he can be a sub, providing the opportunity to hone classroom management skills and get a feel for the different schools in the area, and subbing is also a chance to show the school's administration how great of a fit s/he would be at the school.

S/he could talk to schools about job-sharing with a teacher who might have young kids and would like to spend more time with the children, or is easing back in from maternity/paternity leave.

Elementary school jobs are really hard to get, and some high school jobs, too. Science and math are often more in demand, but if a school district is well staffed in those areas, s/he might still be out of luck. If it's at all feasible, look farther from home. Good luck!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:28 AM on July 20, 2011

Huh, so this post could have been made by me, two weeks ago, before my wife got her new job, right down to the prior experience many years ago through a TFA type program. I'll tell you what I did, with the obvious caveat that all people are different and want different kinds of support for their partner.

It's hard to do much to help your partner with the actual job search process, just because teach jobs don't come from many sources, but anything you can do to find and point out openings would probably be appreciated.

The biggest thing my wife needed was someone to tell her that everything would work out okay. Not constant reassurance, but when she was feeling down I would explain how I had a job, and we had savings, and everything would be fine(from an economic) point of view even if she didn't find a teaching job right away. I'm not sure if this is entirely true in your case, but it's helpful to emphasize that if you can. It's also good to point out that although teaching jobs tend to be filled around this time of year, it's not the only way to get a job. My mother is a teacher, and she once got a job on a Friday when kids started back on Monday, people also get jobs midyear as replacements or long-term substitutes.

The thing I should have done more of, is do more of the around the house work. I let that slide too much while my wife was job hunting, and it didn't help. Looking for a job is stressful and time consuming, combining periods of intense activity with long periods of not having much to do, and it's much harder to get through that if you're also having to cook, clean etc, or if your house is a mess.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:29 AM on July 20, 2011

Where are you? My wife just got a SC job only because she knows people throughout the district and knew about an unadvertised opening.

Districts are also looking to save money a lot of places. A teacher with no experience is cheaper than one with experience. It wouldn't surprise me if those years a while ago are helping a lot less than you think, if not hurting. It's not out of the realm of possibility that some of the higher ups see that as "Why did this person stop teaching? There must be a reason, maybe I should look somewhere else." Of course, this all depends on how long ago many years is though.

The master's degree is a mixed bag. They've got to pay her more, but essentially she's a new teacher.

With all that in mind (and I only said it because I think it helps to know why this is happening and not just that it's happening), here's what I'd do.

This late into the summer a lot of the jobs are gone, even if they're still listed. So getting prepared for questions such as "Why did you stop teaching?" is a great start.

Look into what it would take to be a substitute teacher. It's not the same at all, but it's still in a classroom and gets your face in front of a lot of different people.

If you know people in the district, see if there's something crazy going on. My wife's district still has two RIF people who haven't said anything about getting a job or not, and those two are holding up progress for pretty much the rest of the district to higher the people they need.
posted by theichibun at 9:33 AM on July 20, 2011

What you could do is, as far as possible, be ready and waiting for them with a nice dinner as soon as they get home from another horrible interview.

You probably can't do this yourself, but what you could suggest is that they have their documents and printers all set up to write and print the thank-you letters as soon as they get in, so that it doesn't take too long. Then they can get the letters out in under half an hour, take them to the mailbox, and come back and have dinner.

You could also hand them some hot tea while they write the letters.
posted by tel3path at 9:35 AM on July 20, 2011

I just can't figure out why no one has called to schedule an interview? S/he's a catch!!!

It's because there are no jobs. Honestly, I would consider even finding a job to apply for a smashing success these days. Instead it's hiring freezes all around.

I agree that substitute teaching is the way to go. It's flexible, good experience, and decent money. Also don't give up just because the school year's about to start. I got my teaching job where I used to live in late October. Budget problems can actually make this more likely, because schools and districts are playing so tight with student/teacher ratios that a last minute change can mean a last minute new position.
posted by that's how you get ants at 10:07 AM on July 20, 2011

Mid-July isn't terribly late--this was when I was doing the bulk of my interviews straight out of school. I didn't land my first full-time teaching gig until two days before school started. This was not uncommon in my district. Granted, that was almost ten years ago in a much better budgetary climate; it's much worse now, as your wife knows.

Agreeing with that's how you get ants. At this point, any expectedly-open posts have been filled by those pink slipped elsewhere in the district or surrounding districts. But every year, there are teachers who quit just before school starts again. More leave in the middle of the year for all kinds of reasons. If she hasn't entered the sub pool (if they're accepting new subs, that is), she should do so immediately. Really good subs are rare because they get snatched up by local admin to fill these mid-year teacher openings.

It's a hard, hard, hard job market out there for teachers in general--I have many friends with more classroom experience than your wife also unable to find teaching positions. So it's not just her. Let her know that she is definitely not alone and is in excellent company. It's no failing on her part--it's a national problem for teachers.

During her job search, if she has time and any tiny glimmer of inclination, I recommend her taking (more) training/experience in either special education, math, or science. These are consistently the areas that the most recession-proof.
posted by smirkette at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2011

I'm job hunting right now, and the best thing my husband does for me is to LISTEN to every complaint, every triumph, every interview story, etc. His support is really all I need.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:31 AM on July 20, 2011

I'm a teacher and many of us will attest to this: you often hear nothing until the last week of August, then it becomes frantic interviewing and usually several job offers.
posted by kinetic at 11:29 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you were in her/his position, what would you want your partner to do for you? What can I do to help?

It really, really depends on what your specific partner needs in this kind of situation. It could be that they need someone to brainstorm with about how to find jobs and what their backup plan should if they don't land something before the school year starts. Or it could be that they want you to distract them from the stress of the job search by going out and doing fun things otherwise focusing on different activities. At any rate you should accept that you can't really solve the overall problem in this situation yourself, and just try to be the best partner you can to them while they work their way through it.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2011

Depending on what area of the country you're in, you could help by tracking down what needs to be done to get on the sub rolls for various nearby districts, so that s/he doesn't have to do all that work if it becomes necessary.

I say this is area dependent because some parts of the country have large districts such that the extra help isn't really needed, since only one or two are nearby. On the other hand, lots of people in New England, for example, have 20-30 school districts within an hour's drive, each with a different sign-up process.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 12:41 PM on July 20, 2011

Believe in them.

This makes a HUGE difference. I couldn't have got to where I am if my wife wasn't the force of fearless encouragement that she is.
posted by Murray M at 6:15 PM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

« Older Why would I need a dictionary when I know all the...   |   Where can vegans and meat eaters break bread in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.