Preparation For The Young And Dumb


Dear Blue

I went in for a job interview last month. In an attempt to bolster our family’s income, I am attempting to become a teacher. That’s sadly hilarious, because the words bolster, income and teacher rarely, if ever, appear in the same sentence together. But it’s where we are at right now.

It was a big interview. In California, the following things need to happen before you can become a teacher. You must:

*pass the CBEST, general aptitude test that tests basic knowledge of English, math and writing.

*pass the CSET, a 5 hour adrenaline-fueled romp testing more specific knowledge of the subjects you wish to teach.

*clear a background check

*gain admission into a credentialing program

*pay nearly 20k in tuition fees and complete 8 courses of study

*complete 2 semesters of student teaching

*jump off the Santa Monica Pier, find a shark, punch the shark.

Sound difficult? It is, and so rather than pay 20k in tuition and being forced into punching yet another shark in my life, I opted to apply for a program where I get to be a teacher and take classes for free.

Pretty sweet, but after passing the two aptitude tests, I needed to go in for an interview.

This was slightly terrifying. To start, interviewing for the Los Angeles Unified School District required me to go downtown. LAUSD headquarters are in a glass-faced skyscraper perched on top the 110 freeway. It’s a fortress. After checking in with security, I made my way to the fifteenth floor. There, I waited for an hour in the Human Resources waiting lobby until my interview time. This gave me plenty of time to go over my “audition”, a fifteen minute lesson I would be teaching on integers. It also gave me plenty of time to listen to disgruntled employees file grievances with equally disgruntled-ish HR workers. Dear LAUSD, this is probably not the ideal scene for potential hires. You might want to rethink that.

The idle time also gave me plenty of time to review the most horrible, awful, nausea inducing interview I ever experienced. It happened 10 years ago, and young, dumb Mike was interviewing for a teaching job in Japan. Young, dumb Mike was, obviously, young and dumb and didn’t understand the subtle nuances of preparing for a job interview. He would soon find out. Rapidly.

Whenever some big event is looming on your horizon where you’re not sure about the outcome, you should consider baseball, Blue. Specifically, consider the concept of three strikes. Any time you are in a situation and you feel as if there are three strikes against you, it’s safe to assume that the situation did not go well for you.

So, young and dumb. Strike #1 came in the lobby, when I realized that I was severely underdressed. The other people in my group interview were all dressed in suits, and I was wearing khakis and a collared shirt. Not even a tie.

The humility I felt in that elevator ride up the interview is the exact reason why that after you graduate from college and get your first real job interview, you and I are going to the store and fitting you for a suit. Nothing makes you feel ready to take on the world like a nice suit, Blue.

When the interview started, we were asked to answer questions in a discussion format in small groups. Nervous and feeling like I was already a step down on account of not wearing a suit, I started to involuntarily click my pen. I stopped clicking the pen when the interviewer announced to the group, “You want to know what one of my biggest pet peeves is?”

Nervous, terrified silence from everyone. This kind of information is not offered lightly.

“It’s clicking pens,” he growled.

Strike #2.

Those two strikes were egregious enough to essentially seal my fate, but since I still had a third strike, I decided to swing for the fences, so to speak. The last part of the interview was a prepared lesson. I went third. The first two were very good. Structured and well planned. I actually learned something new about English grammar. Then came young and dumb Mike’s turn, and over the course of the next ten minutes, I proceeded to make everyone in the room a degree dumber than they were when they entered the room. My lesson was on English slang, and I proceeded to review the different ways in which we greet each other in America. With examples. It was terrible, Blue. Complete crap. I even fist bumped somebody.

And I knew I was done after that third strike.

Back to the present, I was thinking about this while mentally preparing for this interview. Remember this was ten years ago. A lot of time for me to not be dumb and certainly not be young. Wisely, I was nervous. Wisely, I was prepared. Wisely, I wore a suit.

I got the job, Blue. Daddy’s going to teach.





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