I had my first screening interview with a school district last week, which went pleasantly and surprisingly well. 
I arrived half an hour early to fill out the district’s required semi-essay-answer questionnaire (what I hope to accomplish as a teacher, my philosophy on classroom management, and the like) and to mentally prepare myself for interview. I hate being of out of breath and panicked because I had to run across campus to get to the building on time. When I walked in the door the interviewer looked at me and asked for me by name. I told him he had the right person. He directed me to the sign in sheet and writing forms then left the room so I could work. Soon after, another lady came in and took up a form. When the interviewer came back, he casually asked her, “Are you an art teacher?” She laughed and said, yes, how did he know? He mentioned something about her mannerisms and style (though she looked like any other college interviewee in a coordinated outfit to me). Then, glancing at me, he frankly told me that he knew I was an English teacher the moment I walked in. He knew he had an English teacher to interview because it said so in his file, and when he saw me come in he thought, “It’s got to be her.” Now this made me laugh. I was all done up like a proper teacher. Dress, jacket, even had the teacher bun in my hair. I good-naturedly asked him if I looked that bookish and he responded no, he had simply been interviewing prospective teachers for so many years that he got to recognize the characteristics of certain teachers. English teachers, he told me, have a no-nonsense air about them. (Defy me if you dare, I guess.) They’re firm, but fair. And they have the fewest behavior management problems in their classes. I had to chuckle about that last part and told him that’s good to know for future reference. (One teacher actually said that from her observations, German classes had the most behavioral problems. I wasn’t aware of my German students behaving worse than others, just different.) I was surprised by this interviewers comments. I didn’t realize I announced “English teacher” to other educators just by walking in a room. I certainly couldn’t tell who was who.
When I told the above experience to a friend of mine, she laughed and agreed with the interviewer. She then told me, that in her opinion, English teachers are hard to read. As a student, you see how far you can go before they check you. She explained, the first time you meet your English teacher, it’s like you’re all excited and you bounce in all smiling, waving wildly as you give an enthusiastic, “HI!!!” Then, mid “hi,” your teacher makes eye contact with you and you suddenly feel too . . . MUCH, and you quickly go from “HII!!” to “hiii . . .” to a subdued and serious, “uh, oh, hi, um hello.” I laughed because I hadn’t noticed anyone react exactly that way, though I did tell her that her description helped explain a few of my students’ reactions regarding some of my various comments, actions, or entertainment references. (“Did she just say . . .?” “I think so. She actually knows . . .?” “Yeah. Hm. Well.”) Not that I did anything with the intent to be cool. Though it could be fun. One great moment was when a classroom of somewhat shocked faces met mine as I demanded that they create their own Julius Caesar’s Best Death Scene Ever and there better be blood and plenty of it. Honestly, it’s quite a short bit of action on the page. I went on a mini-rampage telling them I felt jipped. “I slogged through Acts I and II preparing for this moment, and then all I get is ‘They stab him. Caesar dies.‘ That’s it? Where’s all the blood? Use these red markers and show me.” For half a second there was silence as they looked at me, wondering if it was a joke. (“She wants blood?”) Then they grinned. That was a good assignment.
What had my students expected of me as an English teacher? I really don’t know, save for the occasional attempt to keep everyone in line and give them work. I expected my teachers to teach and help me excel. That’s what I expect to do as a teacher. I wonder if that comes out in my “English teacher” character.
I was, quite frankly, amazed and flattered to hear that I looked like a teacher. That means I look and act the part. And people know it.