Tag Archives: phil call

Recent Alumnus Phil Call on His Successful Search for a Teaching Position in Secondary Education


I recently graduated with a degree in English education and a license to teach English as a second language (ESL).  After applying for 11 jobs, receiving 10 rejections, but eventually winding up with two offers, I am glad to say that I will be teaching English and English as a second language this fall at Warsaw High School.  I wrote a post in November 2010 about the English ed program generally; here, I want to share some experiences and suggestions about the job hunt.

1: Apply early and often. Most school teachers I spoke with said that I didn’t have to worry about applying until school was over. After checking the jobs posted on the Indiana Dept. of Education website, though, I learned that while some schools accept applications well into July, others stop doing so by late April. I sent out as many as I could in the time I had to schools across the state that had jobs sounding even remotely interesting.

2: Accept the rejections. Although I had anticipated a few rejections, I was surprised several times after what I felt had been excellent interviews. I tried to pry some worthwhile information during the consolation calls about my shortcomings and thereby obtained a few tips for how to improve as well as learned that some of the shortcomings they perceived in me were actually important parts of my teaching philosophy and identity, which made me feel glad I wasn’t extended an offer.

3: Read and talk about what you’re reading. One school whose rejection was particularly unexpected had asked what I was reading and required me to read Results Now by Mike Schmoker. I had an especially good discussion with the principal, who, upon my inquiry for other good reads, pulled The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner off his shelf and gave it to me. Subsequently, when another position opened up, he called and offered it to me, giving me a week to respond.

4: Show how much you want it. Although I felt good about this aforementioned position, there was another job at another school that had a course load and location I much preferred. I used the weeklong deadline to leverage a quicker interview and response time from this second school. I felt bad about being so forward and somewhat demanding, but the assistant principal assured me that it was okay and actually helpful because it let him know how interested I was.

5: Be honest about weaknesses and strengths. When I showed up for the interview at this second school, my hopes were immediately dashed after I was introduced to the ESL coordinator for the school district (20% of which is Hispanic/Latino) and then saw another interviewee go into her office and start conversing with her in Spanish, which I don’t know at all… long story. In my interview, I made it clear that I didn’t speak Spanish but was sure to emphasize my student-centered, project-based pedagogy. The artifacts and example lesson I had to present focused on these strengths as well, which were evidently sufficient since I was offered the job.

So, this fall, and for the foreseeable future, I’ll be teaching four ESL classes in the morning and two English 10 classes in the afternoon.

Best of luck,


Guest Post: Phil Call shares his experience in the English education program


I’m Phil—a senior in the English education program. Essentially, I want to present a picture of the program by escorting you through some of my memories. If you’re new to or considering the English ed program, you might find some helpful tips; if you’re a non-English ed major, you might gain some insight into what our world is like; if you’re an old hat in the program, you might get a smile from reminiscing.

Back in my day *wheeze*, we didn’t have an introductory education course that was specific to English; we were introduced to the teaching world and Teachers College alongside other ed folks. With that kind of diversity, our professor, Dr. Wible, focused on teaching general strategies, practicing most of what he preached by utilizing the very teaching methods he commended to us. Later on, when I started teaching real students at real schools, I dug out the brain teasers, group-making tools, and ice breakers that he taught us and found they were quite helpful. *Suggestion: Have a place to record all the ideas for teaching that you hear from and/or see modeled by ANY teacher ANYWHERE. Dr. Wible was also real with us in saying that teaching can be _(insert word with negative connotation here)_. So, he required us to observe classes, tutor students, and really consider whether we wanted to step further into the world of education.

Having taken that step myself, I found that the middle years of the education sequence are rife with portfolios, rGrade, advisers, and Teachers College. By way of explanation, the portfolio is a website that each student makes to chronicle his/her changing perspectives on educational issues and to post “artifacts” from education classes that demonstrate pedagogical competency, and rGrade is an online program that tracks progress through certain “decision points,” each of which requires certain classes, grades, papers, and levels of portfolio achievement before the teaching candidate is allowed to move forward. The portfolio and rGrade cause most of the stress ed majors feel due to the work required and sometimes confusing requirements. *Suggestion: In order to alleviate the confusion caused by these issues, consult the English Education website and contact professors, advisers, and administrators (esp. Dr. Hartman) in the English Department regularly to make sure you’re on track.

All of the courses that I have taken through the English department and Teachers College have prepared me in some way for teaching. I use grammar skills almost daily to help students with worksheets; I recall methods courses to help me design lessons that avoid worksheets; I follow professors’ examples when I work with students one-on-one; I call on literature I have read to supplement students’ readings; I implement lessons from my communication classes to teach clearly and confidently…the list could go on. *Suggestion: Push the bounds of these classes and your professors.

Outside of BSU’s regular course offerings, I have found it helpful to volunteer tutor at Motivate Our Minds and Academic Achievers in town; tutor for pay at the Writing Center in RB 291 (the Learning Center is another option) and The Compass; and practice teaching through an Honors College program that allows undergraduates to teach an elective course under the mentorship of a professor. These experiences have helped me in the classroom and have also helped me with the Praxis 2, a content-specific, multiple-choice test for education majors. *Suggestion: If you’re sweating Praxis 1 or 2, just study SAT guides: English and Math for 1, and just the long reading passages for 2.

Currently, I’m doing my practicum in Anderson, where I’m working with a teacher for two morning periods for four weeks at the junior high and then four weeks at the high school. My practicum cooperating teacher at the junior high will be the same teacher I’ll work with during student teaching, which is great. I’ve been biting off as much as I can during class—helping students one-on-one, working with small groups, administering spelling tests, giving dramatic readings of “The Raven,” and learning how to manage teenagers in a classroom. She’s given me a lot of latitude to experiment with different ideas that I have while still supporting me so I don’t fall flat on my face.

Looking forward, I wonder about my own classroom. As much as I have learned from taking college classes and observing secondary school classes, I think there are other methods for teaching that will benefit my future students, examples of which I have seen by searching for “Sudbury Valley School” and “New Tech High” on YouTube. One activity that is helping me to feel less nervous about teaching solo is to write out everything I want to do with my future students. To that end, a friend, Luke Boggess, and I are bouncing ideas off of each other, contemplating what we want our classes to be like, and outlining our thoughts on a website (contact me if you’d like the url). *Suggestion: Try to solidify your own teaching plan via combination of practice and theory so that you won’t be left resorting to less effective methods when you start teaching.

Best of luck,

Phil Call

Writing Center Tutors Take on ECWCA

Ball State University was well-represented at the 2010 East Central Writing Center Association Conference in East Lansing, Michigan this April. Three undergraduate students (Tyler Gobble, Phil Call, and Neal Coleman) and two English graduate students (Emily Standridge and Dani Weber) who all work at the Writing Center presented papers at the conference.

In a panel presentation “Exploring the Writing Center’s Convergence with Social Capital,” Phil, Dani, and Emily explored the ways that social capital plays a role in writing center work. Tyler suggested in his presentation, “Creative Writers in the Writing Center,” that writing centers might pursue different paths to appeal more to creative writers. Neal presented on the effect, or lack of effect, that traditional advertising has on writing center services.

Ball State alum, Nikki Caswell (MA, Rhetoric and Composition) co-led a successful workshop on assessment at the conference. Writing Center Director Jackie Grutsch McKinney, also in attendance, was elected to Vice President of the organization.