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Job Search Handbook

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Featuring Ariél Austin '12

 

 

A Christmas party where reading

homework was used for a "snowball fight"!

 

Position: 7th Grade Generalist (all the subjects)

School: Bering Strait School District

Location: St. Michael, Alaska

Certification: Secondary English Education

(Profiled: February 2014)

 

♦  How did you connect with this job opportunity?

♦  What attracted you to this position?

♦  What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

♦  What was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?

♦  How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?

♦  What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to

    better prepare for his or her future classroom?

♦  What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

♦  What are the challenges and rewards of teaching and living in another

    culture?

 

How did you connect with this job opportunity?

A former Grove City grad works for the same district and recommended applying for an open position. I also attended the PERC Job Fair and learned there about all the benefits!


What attracted you to this position?

I had three requirements for my first job out of college:

   1) It had to pay enough for me to pay off my school loans within 3 years.

   2) It had to be in a rough place where there was a need for quality teachers,

       but also loving teacher.

   3) It had to be in a country or state where people from college or my

       hometown would look at me and say, "You work WHERE??!?"

St. Michael, Alaska, and the Bering Strait School District meet all three of those requirements, so I accepted the position!

 

What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

My relationships with my colleagues and my relationships with my students have unquestionably been the most gratifying aspects. Since St. Michael is a tiny village in bush Alaska (450 people total, and accessible only by bush plane), I can't just hop over to a nearby restaurant to meet people or unwind after a rough day - there are no restaurants, and I already know everyone! Our teaching community is really tight-knit because of that, which has been my saving grace. And I love my students dearly; they're the reason I'm here!

What was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?

The biggest challenge has been balancing a work life with a social life. Since there aren't any outside forms of entertainment in St. Michael - no stores, no fast food, no restaurants, no coffee shops, nothing - it's easy to stay in my classroom until 10, 11, or 12 every night, trying to keep ahead of all the planning, grading, prepping, and office work that goes along with being the teacher. I want to do my best for my kids, which means I have to plan a set time and tell myself, "This is when you're going home, finished or not." Accepting the fact that I can't always get everything done was (and still is) really hard.

 

How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?

My professors did an excellent job in giving me the tools and training I needed to prepare engaging, informative lessons with a variety of activities, and to take care of the paperwork aspect - making a syllabus, planning for the year, etc. I also attended a lot of the KDP workshops and learned about things like newsletters for parents, classroom discipline, and other necessary aspects of being a teacher that aren't traditionally taught in the classroom. Everything that I learned at GCC was one less skill set I had to learn in the hectic chaos that being a new teacher is, and I'm grateful for the thoroughness with which my professors and advisors trained me.

 
What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future classroom?

I would advise current pre-service teachers to take as many notes as they can in class, about whatever they can, and keep them organized! I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "Shoot, I know that we talked about this in Blackburn's class, and I remember writing it down... now where did I put that notebook?? Is it still back home?" The work that you're doing now is your prep work for the future - and the more prepared you are now, the better you'll be when you get out here.

 

What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

I would recommend holding out for that position you REALLY want. Don't accept a job just because it's a job, even for the sake of getting experience - that's a good way to be miserable. Wait for a job that you KNOW you're going to love and be motivated to work your hardest for, because it's incredibly hard to motivate yourself to keep on top of everything if you don't love what you're doing.

 

What are the challenges and rewards of teaching and living in another culture?

St. Michael isn't technically an international school, but it qualifies as another culture - none of my students are white. They are all Yup'ik Eskimo, Inupiaq Eskimo, or Athabascan.

In my opinion, the most challenging part of teaching in another culture is recognizing which aspects of your students' behavior is a direct result of that culture, and trying to appreciate and affirm it, even if you may disagree with it. I have a strong personal sense of rightness, e.g. there's a right way to speak, and a right way to write, and a right way to treat other people. In some cases my beliefs are cultural, and in others I believe they're more universally transcendent. It's hard to argue against, "That's our culture, though," especially since I don't fully understand or recognize the culture yet. That challenge is actually part of the reward, though - getting to interact with a new culture and try to understand it can be frustrating, but ultimately rewarding as different aspects of it begin to piece together into a coherent whole. Another rewarding part of it is the opportunity to try new experiences - new foods (whale blubber, seal meat, Eskimo ice cream, moose, caribou, salmonberries), a new language, new skills (making my own skin & fur hat, making a traditional Yup'ik kuspuk), and the opportunity to see people interacting with each other in a new way (village basketball tournaments, Eskimo dancing, a Yup'ik funeral). Every time we interact with another person there's an opportunity to grow, learn, and become a better person; when that other person has a completely different worldview than I do, my opportunities to gain wisdom, love, and grace increase exponentially, as do my opportunities to wrestle with the big questions in life.

 

 

 

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2010 Education Career Services
Maintained By: Deb Snyder | Last Updated: August 2014