The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Job as a Teacher When applying for any job, you always want to make a great first impression by having a slick cover letter and intriguing resume. Resume and Interview Guide Five Critical Resume Strategies for Teachers How Educators Can Avoid Resume Blunders Decluttering Your Resume in 5 Steps Resume Preparation for Teachers Be Proactive Before and After You Send Your Resume Writing Effective Cover Letters Nail Your Next Cover Letter How to Handle the 6 Toughest Interview Questions What are your biggest weaknesses? Creating a Teaching Portfolio General Teaching Career Tips Is a Career in Teaching for You? How to Prepare for Teaching Transitioning into an Education Career Make the Most of an Educational Job Fair Resume and Interview Guide Five Critical Resume Strategies for Teachers The thought of creating a resume makes most people cringe. One of the biggest challenges of writing a resume is being objective, and thinking critically about what you have to offer. Writing your resume is one time you need to “boast” about your accomplishments; for many, this is extremely difficult. The following strategies and hints will help you get started in the right direction. Once you have completed your resume, you should be able to sit back and review all your accomplishments with a renewed sense of confidence. So how do you create a powerful, unique resume that will entice the reader to call you for an interview? In a resume that really works for you, there are five critical components. Appearance Counts Look at your resume this way… when you go shopping, chances are you making a purchase because you have seen the product advertised. What grabbed your attention? The ad, the product description, the benefits, or the packaging? Your resume is an advertisement that highlights YOUR relevant skills, accomplishments, and answers the interviewer’s question, “What can this candidate do to solve our problems?” The layout must be modern, professional, and eye-catching. Arrange the information for easy and enjoyable reading. Make sure your key skills and accomplishments can be located at a glance. Remember, 10-20 seconds is all your resume gets in the first screening round. Does the quality of the paper and print look great? Don’t mix fonts. Leave lots of white space. Highlight or capitalize relevant job positions to make them stand out. Use bulleted lists. If you are faxing the resume, use only white paper. If emailing your resume, use an ASCII Text format (fix the formatting after the conversion). Many companies do not open email attachments for incompatibility and virus reasons. Organization The information presented in your resume needs to be easy for the recipient to read and understand quickly. Create a highly visible and attention-grabbing summary section – this must be located at the top of the first page. If you know what type of position you are seeking, start with the job title, then use a powerful subheading that really draws the reader into the body of the resume. ELEMENTARY TEACHER Dedicated to creating stimulating and enriching learning environments to provide students with a solid educational foundation After this, you would write a Career Profile or Summary of Qualifications. This section summarizes and emphasizes your relevant knowledge and expertise, and will give the reader a concise overview of what you have to offer. This section will vary, depending on your experience. Many career profiles will include a visually appealing table of Core Competencies, which is the perfect place to list keywords. After the career profile, your resume should contain Professional Experience, Education, Credentials, Certifications, Honors, Publications, Public Speaking, Technical Expertise, Professional Affiliations, and Languages. List these items in the order of importance. Keywords Load your resume with critical keywords, job and industry specific terms, buzzwords, and jargon. When the targeted institution receives your resume, a preprogrammed computer may be used to search for keywords to determine which resumes will land in the “YES” pile. The person hired may not be the best qualified for the job, but instead the one with the “matching” keywords. Research and find out what keywords are relevant to the position you are seeking. Read job ads, job descriptions, trade journals, and websites. Bottom of Form Valuable and Convincing Content The body of your resume will decide whether or not you secure an interview. Write powerful statements that match the skills, abilities, and qualifications that the institution needs. Resumes contain sentence fragments, not complete sentences. Use vocabulary that interests the reader, rather than dull sentences that will make them put your resume in the “NO” pile. Stress accomplishments and skills, rather than dull responsibilities and job duties. Some examples of accomplishments: Reduced student discipline rate by 8% by implementing student discipline program. Increased students’ reading at grade level by 20% by implementing “home reading” program. Authored and published book entitled, “Open Parent, Staff, and Student Relationships Equal Results.” Let your personality shine – it is a well-known fact that hiring managers hire candidates with a pleasing personality. Words used in a resume can convey a personality that sets you apart from the rest of the candidates. Your writing style must be clear and concise. Write in the first person, never in the third person – do not use the word “I.” Statements should begin with action verbs, and should communicate results, accomplishments, and the value you can offer the company. Verb tenses must remain consistent. Sentences must be parallel. Make sure you show the reader you are a troubleshooter and can solve the institution’s problems. Include examples and quotes from a previous supervisor – this will increase your credibility. Class and Professionalism The resume and cover letter you submit must demonstrate and display your “best” work. Would you hire yourself if your resume were in a stack of 1000 others? To ensure professionalism, send a cover letter, and address it to the hiring manager. Make sure the spelling of his/her name is correct. Do not fold your documents – send them in a full-sized envelope. If you are unable to personally deliver the resume, send it by overnight express to make a great first impression. There must be no typos or grammatical errors. Remember, this is an indication of your best work. There are many tricks to writing an effective resume. The most important fact to remember is: Write your resume to sell YOU – consider it a critical marketing tool! How Educators Can Avoid Resume Blunders Writing an effective resume can sometimes be a challenging and daunting task. It can be quite easy to inadvertently make mistakes and unknowingly sabotage your chances of securing a job. To prevent some of the most common mistakes, we have put together a listing of the most common errors and what you can do to avoid them. Typing and grammar errors: It is imperative that your resume and cover letter documents be grammatically correct and error free. An employer will take a close look at your resume and if it is riddled with errors and typos, they will more than likely draw a conclusion that care was not taken, leaving a not so flattering impression of your abilities. Have your family and friends re-read your document to ensure that it flows properly and is error-free. Multi-use resume: Trying to develop a multi-useful resume will most certainly guarantee that you will not meet every requirement put out in a job listing. It is essential that your resume be tailored to each and every job posting for which you are applying. It should be manipulated and revised to ensure that you address each identified skill and requirement within the posting. Remember that your resume is the document that will secure an interview. Paying close attention to this detail will have your calendar filled with interviews. Lack of action words & competencies: Never use the words “responsible for” when describing your position duties. Instead utilize action words that will emphasize your responsibilities and outcomes; for example: “Increased student test scores by providing additional individual assistance…” Using descriptive words throughout your resume will entice the reader and capture their attention. Using “I” or “me”: A resume is your communication document, therefore, it should be written in a concise manner. You should not use the words “I” or “me” when writing your accomplishments. As an example: “I developed and implemented creative lesson plans that allowed me to engage students in the learning process.” Instead, use the following to eliminate pronouns and articles: “developed and implemented creative lesson plans that allowed students to engage in the learning process.” Personal information on your resume: Information such as birth date, marital status, your height and weight should not be placed on your resume unless you are seeking employment overseas. Resume is too long or too short: Many individuals have the idea that their resume should be only a one-page document. Trying to squeeze your career achievements into one page may cause you to leave out impressive accomplishments. Likewise, there are those people who love to ramble on about irrelevant experiences, leaving the reader lost and confused. There really is no rule about how long a resume should be, but the standard length, if you have a few years of work experience, is usually two pages. If you have an extensive listing of career development or special projects, it is acceptable to make reference by indicating “A comprehensive listing of career development courses is available upon request.” You can then devise a separate listing which is ready and available should an employer make a request Decluttering Your Resume in 5 Steps In preparation for a job search, you dust off your old resume and tack on your most recent job, new skills and training. But without editing or deleting old information, your resume becomes a hodgepodge of outdated accomplishments, awards and skills. It’s time to declutter your resume. To clean up your act, follow these five steps: Step 1: Narrow Your Career Goal Tom Kelly, president of Executive Recruiting Solutions, says many job seekers’ biggest problem is not being sure of what they want to do, adding that it’s particularly an issue for those branching out into new careers or industries. “The resume starts to lose focus,” he says. “A whole bunch of extra stuff ends up in it in order to try to appeal to a wider range of employers or industries.” Kelly recommends limiting your resume’s focus or creating more than one version if you have multiple target jobs. “It’s best to declutter the resume by targeting one to three industries, max,” Kelly says. This makes it easier to consolidate down to relevant content. Step 2: Condense Your Opening Summary Les Gore, managing partner of Executive Search International, recommends including a qualifications summary near the top of your resume. “Tell me a little about your background,” he says. “Don’t go overboard, and don’t overdo the selling. Be succinct and descriptive in terms of your experience and collective knowledge.” And forget about crafting lofty mission statements or “me-focused” objectives that talk about wanting a fulfilling career with opportunity for growth, advises Harvey Band, managing partner of recruiting firm Band & Gainey Associates. “You’re wasting page space with that, and you’re wasting your time and mine,” he says. “Use the top third of the page to communicate your most recent experience and your most impressive accomplishments. Get my attention. Then I’ll keep reading.” Step 3: Edit Work Experience Your resume’s experience section should provide an overview of your career chronology and a few highlights of key accomplishments for your most recent work experience. For professionals on an established career track, this may mean summarizing experience more than 10 to 15 years old into an “early career” section. “I like to see summaries of earlier careers versus long, detailed explanations,” says Kelly, who recommends job seekers provide brief, one-line descriptions of earlier positions. “You don’t have to list every job that you’ve had out of college on your resume.” Gore agrees. “Often, I see way too much information on responsibilities and not enough on the accomplishments,” says Gore, who reviews hundreds of resumes each month. Although he finds it helpful for candidates to provide a brief overview of the range of their responsibilities, Gore recommends these details be summarized in just a few sentences. When trying to weed accomplishments for space reasons, think numbers. “Take a hard look at what you’re saying,” Band says. “If you can’t back it up with numbers, percentages or quantify it in some other way, then cut it.” Gore also likes the quantitative approach, as does Kelly, who suggests quantified statements have more value to an employer than more general, non quantified accomplishments. Step 4: Consolidate Education The education section is another area where you can gain space when updating your resume. Although detailed information about internships, courses, academic honors and extracurricular activities can be important for new or recent graduates, professionals with four or more years of experience can omit or greatly condense this information, says Kelly. Step 5: Select Your Skills Many job seekers know the importance of keywords. But be careful not to go overboard, cautions Band. Band says if your skills section resembles a laundry list of random terms, you need to do some serious editing. “The best resumes are custom-created for a specific opportunity,” he says. “If you’re targeting your resume, then you don’t need to try to throw in every single skill set that you think might be important.” And now’s a good time to dump outdated technology, too. “Fortran, Cobol and other outdated computer programs need to go,” says Kelly. Not only can you gain some valuable space, but you’ll avoid coming across as a dinosaur. Think like an Employer Throughout each step of the resume-decluttering process, Band advises candidates to address the three key questions employers want your resume to answer: What can you do for me? What have you done before? Can you do it for me again? Once the resume gets you an interview, you need to prepare. Resume Preparation for Teachers Writing a resume is like exercising: You may not look forward to it, but you feel better once it’s done. And like the results of a good workout, a well-presented resume can help you keep your career in shape. But when writing a resume, what works and what doesn’t? We thought we’d turn to Monster members like you for advice. Here are some tips from both job seekers who write resumes and hiring professionals who read them for a living. Keep in mind that like resumes, opinions can vary – what works for one person may not work for you. Title and Objective A strong, descriptive title will help you stand out in a sea of resumes. “Titling your resume ‘Joe’s do-it-all resume’ or ‘1975 hottie looking for a job resume’ gets your resume passed over by a busy recruiter,” says one Monster member who should know -he’s a recruiter himself. “Make the title useful. For instance, ‘Nursing Director, Pediatrics Labor and Delivery’ or ‘IT Telecom Project Manager, Microsoft and Cisco Certified’ or ‘Enterprise Software Sales Manager, Life Sciences’ -enough with the stupid titles we dismiss and make fun of. This is your career we’re talking about.” “Teacher Portfolio: Philosophy of Teaching."
:http://www.theapple.com/careers/articles/1182-philosphy-of-education-in-teaching-portfolio And an objective must get an employer’s attention quickly or it won’t get any attention at all, says a district manager for a wireless company. “I receive hundreds of resumes on a monthly basis,” he says. “Two-thirds of the resumes are rejected due to the applicant having no clear objective in seeking employment with my company. Your resume must grab my attention within the first few words of the objective. It must be clearly written and relevant to the position you are applying for. Take a little extra time and customize the objective to the position you are seeking…. If you cannot sell yourself with your resume, you might not have the opportunity to sell yourself at an interview.” Look and Feel As for typeface, you had definite opinions. “Don’t use Times New Roman font,” advises one seeker. “Your resume will look like everyone else’s. Georgia and Tahoma are both different, professional and pleasant to look at.” But another job seeker’s font advice is more practical: “Use Times New Roman or Arial Narrow instead of other wider fonts to keep your resume to only one (or two) pages and save paper.” Monster Resume Expert Kim Isaacs recommends you use a standard Microsoft Word-installed font so the layout will be consistent when an employer opens your resume. No matter what font you use, she suggests you stick with one per resume. “Also, the type should be large enough to be read on screen without causing eye fatigue,” she says. For the hard copy of your resume, make sure you invest in good paper stock, says one HR professional who has also composed and drafted resumes for professional clients. “Before our prospective employer even takes one glance at our resume, there is something they do first, and that is FEEL it,” she says. “Having handled nearly hundreds of resumes each week, I think most people would be amazed how much notice you can get with a resume on good-quality paper. Sometimes it is not even a conscious thought, just as you shuffle stacks of resumes from here to there, making all the appropriate piles to serve your needs, you always tend to linger just a little longer over that one resume with paper that feels a little heavier, like the cotton/linen blends or the one that feels just slightly different than normal, like the parchments. You can double the effect if you choose good-quality paper in a professional color other than white.” Length When President Lincoln was asked how long a man’s legs should be, he said they should be able to reach from a man’s body to the floor. Likewise, your resume should be long enough to sell you properly without overstating your accomplishments. But of course, you had opinions on this, too. The consensus on resume length is simple: Keep it short. There are exceptions, though. “Never exceed one page, unless you have 15-plus years of experience and are applying for a job in upper management,” advises one job seeker. “Make sure that your resume remains one page and formatted properly, even when viewed in different formats and different views — if someone opens your resume in a view other than the one you created it in and sees a hanging line, it looks unprofessional.” Style and Grammar Finally, it may seem like grade-school advice, but it bears repeating: “Although I try to counsel people on how to write a raving resume and an awesome cover letter, I’m consistently shocked at how many resumes and cover letters I receive from people that are plagued with misspelled words, grammatical mistakes and basically little or no time spent proofreading prior to sending,” says one Monster member who’s been in the staffing industry for 15-plus years. “In an era when competition seems to be one of an applicant’s worst enemies, it seems that one would want to do everything possible to stand out in the crowd. Trust me: I won’t give a second thought to deleting a resume and/or cover letter that is fraught with mistakes.” Be Proactive Before and After You Send Your Resume You find a promising job listing online. Excited, you send a well-crafted cover letter and resume and wait for a response. Six weeks later, you’re still waiting, your enthusiasm has waned, and you’ve concluded your resume has fallen into a black hole. A proactive approach to your job search can improve your chances of landing interviews. These six tips will help maximize your success. Make Contact before Sending Your Resume Unless you’re responding to an ad that requests “no phone calls,” try to contact the hiring manager before you send your resume. Even if you don’t know the name of the person handling the search, you can do a bit of investigation to locate the correct person, if you know the employer. Once you get the person on the phone, be brief. The purpose of your call is to express enthusiasm about the opportunity, and that you can positively contribute to the team. Be prepared with a short pitch about your qualifications and the ways you could benefit the employer. Keep the focus on the employer, not you. If you don’t get to speak with the hiring manager, find out who the recruiter is in charge of hiring for the position as well as the correct spelling of his name. End Your Cover Letter with a Promise of Action Conclude your letter with something similar to, “I will follow up with you in a few days to discuss the possibility of an interview. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me at ______.” If you say you will follow up, make sure you do. Follow Up Quickly on All Resumes You Send Follow up within three to five business days. You can follow up by phone or by email if replying to a blind ad or the ad specifies no calls. When following up by phone, try saying something like, “Hi, my name is ______ and I submitted my resume for your ______ opening. I’m extremely interested in this opportunity, and I just wanted to touch base with you on how I can benefit your operation…” If you are following up by email, your message should be brief. Here’s an example: Dear Name (or “Hiring Manager” if name is unknown): I recently applied for your _____ opening, and I just wanted to follow up to make sure my resume was received. My strong background in ______, ______ and ______ appears to be an excellent match to the qualifications you are seeking, and I am very interested in your opportunity. I realize you may not yet be at the interview stage, but I am more than happy to answer any preliminary questions you may have, and I can be reached at ______. Thank you for your time and kind consideration._ Sincerely, Be Purposeful in Your Subsequent Follow-Up Contacts If several weeks pass after your initial follow-up without word from the employer, initiate another call or email. Your purpose for following up could be to find out if a timeline has been established for interviews or to leave an alternate contact number if you will be traveling. As always, be polite, professional and respectful. Keep a Contact Log Your follow-up attempts will be much easier if you keep a contact log of all positions to which you apply. Your log should include a copy of the ad for the position (don’t rely on a job posting URL, as jobs can be removed from the Web), the file name of the resume and cover letter you sent, contact dates, names of hiring managers and a summary of information you gleaned during your contact with them. Don’t Be a Pest Repeated follow-ups are tricky. Unless you are confident that you can walk the fine line between being persistent and becoming a pest, exercise restraint after your third or fourth follow-up contact. Don’t give up hope if your follow-up efforts don’t yield immediate results. Depending on the employer, industry, specific job and number of responses, the time between the application closing date and the day interview invitations are issued can be as long as several months. Writing Effective Cover Letters Cover letters are all about first impressions; whether they are good or bad, they last. This is why the development of your cover letter is critical to your job search – it is used as your first introduction to a potential employer. It is important to understand that your resume and cover letter are the ONLY thing representing you in your absence. Your cover letter should be no longer than one page. The letter should “plant the seed” that creates interest in the reader. It should maintain an “upbeat” pace, by making the information exciting – it helps to use vivid language. Let your personality shine through, as this is an advertisement about you, no one else. Whatever you do, don’t make a canned letter — it shows you don’t have the time or interest to make it unique. Why do you need a cover letter when you have a resume? Simple. Using a cover letter, if it is prepared correctly, will dramatically increase your chance of securing an interview. You see, cover letters are marketing tools and they capture interest – enough to get an interviewer to review your resume. Rather than being ignored, your resume becomes the highlight! Nail Your Next Cover Letter Writing personalized cover letters is a quick way to get ahead of other applicants John and Linda applied for the same job. They were equally qualified, and each submitted an excellent resume that emphasized accomplishments, training, positive work ethic and dedication. John included a general cover letter that outlined his career history and aspirations. To save time, he used the same letter to apply for every job opening he looked at. Linda put more effort into her letter. She found out the hiring manager’s name and addressed him directly. She researched the company and learned about its mission, past performance, goals and corporate culture. She also studied the job description and clearly spelled out how she is an excellent match for that particular opening. Linda backed up her claims by highlighting examples of her past success. Although the candidates were equally qualified, Linda’s extra effort landed her a job interview. John never got called. Research Before You Write The more you know about the employer’s needs, the more compelling your letter can be. Review company Web sites, brochures, sales flyers and other promotional materials to glean pertinent information. If possible, speak with current employees to get the inside scoop. Search newspaper archives, public libraries and career-center resources. Do a keyword search using the company name and see what turns up. Determine Your Unique Selling Points With the knowledge that you have about the employer, how would you help achieve organizational goals? Set yourself apart: If there are 100 other applicants vying for the same position, why should the hiring manager take a chance on you? Write a list of the top five reasons why you’re an excellent candidate. Construct Your Letter Heading/Date/Inside Address: If you are writing a traditional (not email) letter, select a standard business-letter format such as block style. Your letter’s design should match your resume (See example below). Salutation: It’s best to address your letter to a specific person (e.g., “Dear Ms. Jones:”), but use “Dear Hiring Manager,” if there’s no way to find that out. Use “Dear Search Committee:” if the decision will be made by committee. Avoid stale salutations such as “Dear Sir/Madam:” and “To Whom it May Concern:.” Opening Paragraph: Hiring managers are busy and do not care to wade through fluff. Your opening paragraph should clearly state the position for which you’re applying. Include a reference code if requested and the referral source (e.g., recommendation from a current employee, Monster, etc.). Your opening may also include a synopsis of why you are a top candidate for the position: Your position advertised on Monster is an excellent fit with my qualifications, as the enclosed resume will attest. My background includes 10 years of success managing international sales programs, top-ranked regions and Fortune 500 accounts. I offer particular expertise in the high tech sector, with in-depth knowledge of networking technology… Body: Your letter’s body contains the sales pitch. This is your chance to outline the top reasons why you’re worthy of an interview. When writing the body text, keep in mind that hiring managers are self-centered — they want to know what you can do for them, not learn about your life story. Demonstrate how your credentials, motivation and track record would benefit their operation. Review your top five selling factors (the ones you jotted down when doing your company research) and weave them into the body, perhaps as a bulleted list. Back up achievements with specific examples of how your performance benefited current and former employers. Precede your bulleted list with a statement such as “Highlights of my credentials include:” or “Key strengths I offer include:.” Keep your letter positive and upbeat. This is not the place to write a sob story about your employment situation. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes — would you call yourself in for an interview? Closing Paragraph: Your final paragraph should generate a call for action, so express your strong interest in an interview and state that you will follow up soon to confirm your resume was received and discuss the possibility of meeting face-to-face. Complimentary Close and Your Name: End with a professional close such as “Best regards,” “Sincerely” or “Respectfully yours.” How to Handle the 6 Toughest Interview Questions Equipped with a stunning resume, you are ready to secure that perfect teaching position. Now it is time for the next step: the dreaded interview. This step however, does not have to be an intimidating or nerve-racking experience. By taking some time to prepare, you can achieve the successful results you want. There are many questions that will be asked during the interview. Many interviews last 45 minutes or longer… so you must be prepared for a variety of questions. Recognizing that situations for every candidate may vary, the responses to each question will serve to provide you with some general guidelines. First and foremost, it is important to conduct extensive research on the district or school’s needs in order to respond to interview questions thoroughly and competently. 1. What are your biggest weaknesses? 2. How do you handle classroom discipline? 3. Why do you want to work for our school district? 4. How would you describe a successful principal? 5. What are your thoughts on team-teaching? 6. Do you have any questions for us? 1 - What are your biggest weaknesses? Your response could include something that may have been a challenge in the past, and you have taken steps to rectify the problem. It is also important to be honest, they will be testing your honesty … and they also want to see what concerns they should be aware of. The key to answering the question is to turn a negative into a positive. I don’t suggest using that traditional, “I’m a perfectionist”, as it is often overused, and will tend to sound phony. It is also important that you don’t get defensive and try to justify why you are weak in a particular subject area, such as social studies. This would make a bad impression, because it may be relevant to the position that you are seeking. Whatever you decide to use, ensure it is not one of the key skills of the position you are seeking. In other words, don’t pinpoint classroom discipline and/management or subject area. Think of this question as an opportunity to sell yourself. Here is an example: You wouldn’t say, “I have a difficult time organizing my day.” Instead, rephrase the answer by saying. “There are so many creative activities I plan for my students and class time is limited. It is difficult to incorporate all of the activities that I would like my students to learn from. Overtime, I have realized to prioritize what lessons are the most important to enhance my student learning. I now realize that I can’t do everything I would like to.” The above example shows you are excited about designing new and creative lessons for your students. In their mind, this will not be a negative. It will position you that much closer to getting a job offer. 2 - How do you handle classroom discipline? For obvious reasons everyone will have a different answer; it will depend on your teaching style, grade interviewing for, and past experiences. The interviewer will be looking to see if you have a plan, you know how to implement it, and if you think that discipline is an important part of the position. What I have found from coaching clients is they fail to provide a clear action plan that can be backed up with examples. Also it is important to find out what is the philosophy of the school or district, this will give you some additional information. A few things to bring up when answering this question is the following: It is important to develop ground rules the first week of class, this allows the students to understand what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. These rules are discussed and agreed upon with the students, this makes the students accountability and responsible. You may want to touch on your philosophy of classroom discipline. This of course would depend on your style; you will have to be honest with yourself. But you may believe that you reduce negative behavior by offering the students a intellectually stimulating, organized, and respectful environment. You will want to get an example of your plan; use a real situation to show your expertise in this very important area. Whether you use the red light/green light, time-outs, or removing the student from the classroom, it is important that you can back up why it is effective and use examples. You will want to explain why you feel the discipline action is effective and why you enjoy using it. It is also important to indicate there are always two sides to every story, so if the action involves discipline of two students, you must listen to both sides. Indicate that you try to get the students to resolve their own disagreements, which may involve compromise. And end the discussion by asking them, “How will you handle the situation next time?” Again, you must be honest when answering this question or any other question during the interview, but by organizing your thoughts and stories will make your response concise, truthful, and show your skills to the district. Let’s imagine an interview for a grade one teaching position wherein the interviewer asks: “Describe your classroom’s physical appearance.” Having prepared ahead of time, you understand the interviewer[s] attempt to determine: 1. Your teaching style 2. Your ability to effectively manage the class 3. The level and quality of student interaction 4. Your teaching philosophy, Within this context, you might respond: “Upon entering my classroom you will find a lively and colorful room wholly centered upon children and active learning. Sight words, the alphabet, numbers, and inspirational quotes cover the walls while large bulletin boards proudly display student’s work. A large area contains a carpeted reading or group corner specifically for storytelling, show-and-tell, weather discussions and calendar and day-of-the-week conversations. This classroom includes an abundance of age appropriate reading materials as well as student mailboxes wherein children place personal journals, home reading books and workbooks in the morning and then collect newsletters or other parent communication at the end of the day.” NOTE: Presenting floor plans successfully used in the past demonstrates strong organization and preparation skills. Indicate various potential seating plans used throughout the year and offer pictures of your old classrooms as a way means to provide the principal and interviewing board a first-hand view of your potential classroom…As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Remember, each person’s answer will vary depending upon teaching style and philosophy. The district will look to see if your style is compatible with their needs; thus, thoroughly researching each specific district provides the key to successfully meet these needs. 3 - Why do you want to work for our school district? Your preparation and research is imperative to successfully answer this question. Provide a few reasons why you’re interested in the school or district, and what in particular sparked your interest. What is your personal experience with the school or district? What do you know about its student body, faculty members, industry reputation, community involvement, educational goals and objectives, upcoming initiatives, demographics, or extracurricular activities? This information will help you to accurately respond to the above question. The word accurate is important – don’t answer the questions by using old information The interviewer is looking for evidence that you really know why you want to work there or did you just send out applications and hope for the best. This research will also help immensely when answering other questions throughout the interview, so plan to dedicate some time and energy doing this homework. Effective research will help to tailor your answers, without being deceiving, to the question above. It is wrong to tailor your answer with incorrect information – preparation and honesty is the key to a successful interview. 4 - How would you describe a successful principal? By asking this question, the hiring committee is attempting to assess the following: Do you understand what traits contribute to the success of a principal. As a teacher, what traits do you value most? Your response may indicate or suggest possible conflicts with the current principal. Responses to this question may include: It is important that a successful principal… Have a vision and a plan to reach that vision…combined with the ability to bring faculty members together to form a cooperative team and motivate them to reach district goals and objectives. Be visible… the principal’s presence should be evident on a continual basis. He or she must be easily accessible to both students and teachers. Has a great sense of humor, and can relate well to a diverse group of individuals. Genuinely cares about the students, teachers, parents, and the district. 5 - What are your thoughts on team-teaching? I am sure many of you have participated in team-teaching and realize the benefits of this strategy. The interviewer who asks this question wants to discover, if you are flexible, enjoy working in a team environment, have experience in this area, and what your viewpoints are on the subject. It is always wise to speak about some of the positive aspects of team-teaching, such as: It is an effective strategy for teaching large groups of students. It is a method for teachers to collaborate in generating ideas … two heads is always better than one! Talk about team-teaching experiences you have had, and the positive results that transpired. If you haven’t had any hands-on experience, you may explain that you enjoy working in a team setting and are excited about the possibility of participating in this approach. OR, maybe you have done some reading on the subject and can share some of the insights you gained with the interviewer … this will definitely be impressive! 6 - Do you have any questions for us? An interview isn’t just about responding to the prospective employer’s questions; it is an opportunity for you to impress the panel with examples of your foresight regarding the position they are offering. By asking questions, you can also determine if the fit is right, it shows your interest in the position, and helps to develop rapport. If you feel comfortable, and the interviewer seems amenable, you may ask questions at appropriate times throughout the interview. Once you have been in the interview for a few minutes, you will start to get a feel for your comfort level in this regard. If you don’t ask questions during the interview, you will most likely be given the chance to do so at the end of the interview … so be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity! So what questions should you ask? First, only ask questions you cannot get answers to through your research, for example, by investigating, you may easily determine how many students attend the school — so, think of a different question to ask. Be sure you think carefully about what questions you would like answer … make them genuine … and recognize that it is always advantageous to ask questions. Remember, don’t try to dominate the interview with your questions, keep in mind your position as the interviewee. A good idea is to practice asking the questions you created in front of a mirror the day before the interview. Then, write your questions down on a professional pad of paper or an index card and bring them to the interview. Some suggestions of appropriate questions are provided here … ask them only if they are not addressed in the interview and if you don’t have access to the answers. If the questions are structured correctly, you will provide yourself with a further opportunity to sell yourself, for example; “I am very interested in team sports, what extracurricular activities are available for teacher participation?” What does this show the interviewer? You are a team player and are willing to participate in extra-curricular activities. Creating a Teaching Portfolio A teaching portfolio can be a great interview asset. What is a teaching portfolio? A teaching portfolio is a history of your teaching career and continual work in progress. Why Do I need a teaching portfolio? Many school systems require that you build your portfolio from year to year to show progress. Prospective employers may use a teaching portfolio to get to know you better. How is a teaching portfolio constructed? Introduction On the cover page of the portfolio, include your name, current position, subject area specialty, and certification status. This should be followed by your most current resume. Teaching Philosophy To help others get to a clearer picture of your teaching style, write a brief philosophy of how you approach education. History For prospective employers, be sure to include a list of all grades and subjects taught previously, as well as the locations and names of the schools. Also include positions of leadership or committees that you held at previous schools, as this will be important for helping employers identify strengths. Professional Development Organize your professional development activities into an easy list that includes college courses taken, workshops or conferences attended, grant-funded projects, and professional memberships in which you are actively involved. In this section, you may also include a professional growth plan or professional goals for your career. Teaching Evidence Throughout the school year, think about items to collect and add to your teaching portfolio to represent the year. Items may include: • Classroom Pictures/Activities • Sample Lesson Plans and Assessment Rubrics • Evidence of Student Achievement/Progress • Technology Integration • Examples of Differentiated Instruction • Innovative Strategies • Cross-Curricular Projects • Positive Communication with Parents/Colleagues • Administration Evaluations and Observations Since a teaching portfolio is a work in progress, be sure to date items appropriately for easy reference and update often. Each year I kept a folder designated for my teaching portfolio to slip things into as I came across them. If you don’t have time during the school year to update your portfolio, the summer can be a great time to make all changes necessary. General Teaching Career Tips Is a Career in Teaching for You? Is a Career in Teaching for You? Whether you’re a college student looking for something worthwhile to do with your life after graduation, or you hate your job selling widgets because there’s no meaning in it, chances are good someone will suggest teaching as an option. Should you be attracted by the seductive statistic that one-third of the teaching force is over 50 and will leave many openings when they retire? That depends. It depends on whether your interests, passions, personal style and life goals fit with teaching. The following information might help you make an informed decision. What’s so great about teaching? Make a Difference Do you remember which teachers had a positive impact on you, and which ones took a sledgehammer to your confidence and desire to learn? You could be one of the positive ones. Autonomy Except for your student teaching, your first year on the job and a few visitations per year after that, what you do in the classroom is up to you. If you have a neat idea, there’s no boss to run it by. Family-Friendly Schedules What could be better than having holidays and summers to be with the folks you love and do what you enjoy? Creativity and Innovation If you’re the dull and overly obedient type, you might not want to go into teaching. But if you love to dream up new ways to present material, think about things or make learning fun, then the classroom is for you. Your Classroom’s Your Stage You spend your days with an audience that may think you’re wonderful. If performing is fun for you and you believe you know things that can make a difference in some kids’ lives, then you probably owe yourself some time in front of the chalkboard. Then why wouldn’t you want to be a teacher? Money If you stay in the classroom, the cap on your income will probably be about $75,000. If you’re frugal, that could do nicely—provided you don’t cave in to envy of your college classmates’ business salaries. Safety Can Be an Issue It’s still more dangerous to drive to school than to stand in a classroom, but some teachers find cops roaming the halls and metal detectors at the door unnerving. Teaching Isn’t for the Timid If you love learning but can’t stand the thought of being on stage all the time, either in front of your class or herding kids through a lunch line or a field trip, then you’d be asking for a lot of unnecessary stress. Some Schools Are Depressing You can tell the minute you walk into a class whether the atmosphere is an upper or a downer. There’s no more invigorating place than a school where kids are eagerly learning and actively involved with teachers and other professionals. In teachers’ lounges in other schools, it’s like the night of the living dead, with people who mentally checked out of the profession years ago. Social Worker/Teacher In many schools, you’re also a triage nurse for multi-problem families. If that challenge speaks to you, then it’s wonderful. But some teachers go home each night burdened with the seeming hopelessness of the baggage their young charges carry around with them. The most important thing to remember is that you should only pursue a teaching career if you really want to, not because it’s convenient or there are openings. If you can keep a class interested in what you’re teaching, handle the different learning styles of 30 kids and help the lonely kid in the last row connect with somebody who’ll be his friend, then you might just make a difference in many young lives. How to Prepare for Teaching All teachers in public schools must have a teaching certificate, a license to teach. Some are licensed to teach preschool through grade 3. Others are licensed to teach grades 1 through 6 or 8. Some are licensed to teach middle school or high school. Some have a license to teach a special subject. You must have a college degree to be a teacher, unless you are teaching a job skill like how to fix cars. You must take classes in education and practice teaching with the help of an experienced teacher. To be a teacher, you must pass tests in reading, writing, and other subjects. And you have to keep learning. In some States, you have to get a master’s degree. You also need computer training in some States. Teachers must be able to talk to children and be good leaders. The students must trust them. Teachers must be able to make students want to learn. They also should be organized, dependable, patient, and creative. Transitioning into an Education Career Have you been sitting back recently, contemplating your future and where you are headed? Are you thinking about changing your career, but not exactly sure where to start? Well, I’m here to tell you that you are certainly not alone. As a Certified Career Coach and Resume Writer, I often work with individuals who are looking for a rewarding career change, guiding them on their path to a successful life change. When you have discovered that your once-rewarding and satisfying job no longer provides you with the same excitement and enthusiasm, it may be the time to consider a career change. Complete commitment to this pursuit will open you up to endless career possibilities. During the course of my career I have worked with many individuals who wanted to change careers and embark on a new challenge, teaching children. I have heard many reasons why mid-career changers are drawn to a career in education, and have ventured to list a few examples. 1. Giving Back to Society: Many successful professionals have often embraced a career in teaching in order to “give back” to society. They often want to teach the real-world experiences they have learned through hands-on participation in a particular field. 2. Mentoring & Guiding: Often career changers choose teaching as a means to coach and lead today’s youth and fosters in them a passion for learning. 3. Sharing Knowledge & Passion: I have found that most career changers bring a high level of enthusiasm and dedication as new educators, combined with a solid understanding of diverse subject material. Beginning the search for a new career can be overwhelming and a bit frightening, to say the least. However, here are a few things that you will want to consider before embarking on your journey: 1. Retraining & Professional Development: Going back to school will give you a chance to learn your new career and provide you with a greater understanding of the role and how to sustain employment within that area. 2. Interchangeable Skills: Take a solid look at your skills and determine those that can be applied across different careers. For example, teachers must possess the ability to be creative, organized, disciplined, and self-directed; if you have these skills, showcase them. 3. Maximizing Your Skill Set/You’re Resume: Your resume must emphasize your relevant past career achievements and contributions; be proud to list each and every one. Learn what a school district is looking for in their teachers; their goals and objectives and where they are headed. Once you have drafted your resume, get feedback from someone you trust. 4. Envision the Position: You may want to envision how you look in the role of your new position, working within that venue day after day. Ask yourself, what parts of the job do I like the best? Am I really interested? Performing this exercise may help you find your right career path. Focus on the skills you enjoy using the most, and build a career based soundly on your passions and your dreams. The process of looking for and finding your new career is a huge opportunity for you to develop deeper self-awareness, and it may just be the thing that supercharges your zest for life. Make the Most of an Educational Job Fair An Educational Job Fair is a great way to meet potential employers, and find out vital information about different school districts. I have put together a few ideas to keep in mind in order to make your Educational Job Fair a successful experience. PREPARING BEFORE THE JOB FAIR: 1. Keep a positive approach: It is important to focus on the benefits of a job fair. You will learn about school districts, find out about potential job opportunities, and have the opportunity to determine what it is that you want in a potential employment position. 2. Review and update your resume: Ensure that your resume is current and professional. You should have at least 20 or 30 copies to hand out. Additionally, you may want more than one style (i.e., Accomplishments or Chronological Resume). 3. Be prepared: Ensure you have reviewed the list of school districts, explore their Web sites, and spend some time gathering information as it will show your enthusiasm and genuine interest. 4. Know your career goals: Be prepared to answer questions regarding your career goals and where you see yourself within the next five years. 5. Prepare questions to ask: You will want to ask specific information on the school district, their goals, and their mission statement. As well, you will want to ask about the positions available and career development opportunities. WHILE AT THE JOB FAIR: 1. Relax and enjoy: Remember you have already prepared for this great event. Now is the time to create a positive impression. 2. Meet and Greet: Introduce yourself to district representatives and remember to establish and maintain solid eye contact. Present a firm handshake and have your polished resume ready to hand out. 3. Remain positive and friendly: Keep your energy level high and remember that even though you are repeating the same thing to each person, the information is new to each individual. 4. Maintain good notes: Take comprehensive notes as the representatives at the job fair may not be able to answer all of your questions. Keep the names, and phone number of those you may want to contact later. Make sure you ask for representative’s business cards. 5. Discuss your skills: Be prepared to discuss your skills, interests, background, and career objectives. You need to sell yourself, so be ready to discuss your benefits and advantages. Note your key features that make you stand out from the others. There are several Educational Job Fairs that are held throughout the U.S., and simply by searching the Internet, and contacting the nearest school district, you will find vital information that will identify people and places. Questions That Are Essential It is true that attending a Job Fair could be one of the best moves you could make to secure a career within the educational field. However, it is also important to know just the right questions to ask while you are networking with potential employers. Below, you will find a list of questions that will assist you: QUESTIONS TO ASK: About the District 1. I am interested in your school district because…….could you provide me with idea of what you are looking for in a successful candidate? 2. Please tell me what type of experience you are looking for? 3. What challenges do you see for your school district? 4. What are the areas of strength within your school district? 5. What do you like most about your school district? 6. Are there immediate openings in your school district? If so, in what areas? If not, do you anticipate opening in the future? 7. Do you have substitute or summer teaching opportunities? 8. Considering my particular interest in teaching, are there other individuals in the district that I should contact? 9. What advice would you give someone who wants to secure a teaching position within your district? 10. Are there opportunities for career development within your school district? About Recruitment 1. Do you hire on a continual basis or only during certain times of year? 2. How should I follow up if I am interested in pursuing employment with your district? 3. Can you give me an address and telephone number for the person I should speak with about teaching opportunities, or can you forward my resume to the individual? After your long and successful day of networking, it is important to make notes about the districts while they are still fresh and easy to recall. Ensure you follow-up with thank you notes to identified recruiters that were helpful to you, and those that you are particularly interested in. Devise a tracking system for future follow up. A little time invested could bring you a lifetime of career satisfaction.