Monday, July 2, 2012

Getting Hired

I have been very lucky in my educational career. When I graduated from college in 2004, I was able to secure a job by the end of May. When I needed to make a change because we were moving across the State, I was able to find employment well before school started. And even though I was pink-slipped three times in the course of a year, I was called back each time.

Everyone who has been hired has a different story for how it happened and having been on several interview teams, I have seen the inter-workings of what goes on when potential teachers are being vetted. I am not guaranteeing that these tips will get you a job, but here are some things that helped me get mine and what I look for when we hire teachers to be a part of our team.

1. Make contact with a mini-folio. A mini-folio is a short version of your larger educational portfolio that has copies of your cover letter, resume, certification, transcript, samples of student work, samples of your personal work, and letters of recommendation. This is the highlight reel of everything you have done in under 15 pages (my larger portfolio has well over 60). Most schools post that they only want you to fill out the online application, but from my experience, if you want to stand out against the horde of online resumes, put on a suit and personally deliver the mini-folio to the specific school where you want to teach. I did this for every job I have ever applied for and once received a call for an interview within 15 minutes of handing it off to the secretary.

Diana G.

  Stoney Creek Elementary
2. Show and tell. Now that you have an interview, it is important to think about what you are going to say to the many questions. As an interviewer, I am not just interested in what the candidate says they do in a classroom. I am interested in seeing how they engage with us - are they smiling, using eye-contact, energetic, and passionate about what they are saying... How you project yourself is just as important as what you are saying. Having confidence and conviction in what you say is important and it can give insight into what you might be like in front of your students.

3. Use your portfolio, please! It always amazes me when I have to ask candidates to see their portfolios. I remember taking that class where we put it together and not being able to wait to show off the hours of work I spent curating the collection of student samples and lesson plans. It is one thing to talk about a project or lesson or idea, it is another to show it in action. Make sure when you are answering questions you are thinking about something in your portfolio that illustrates the point. If they ask about a cross-curricular lesson, have your portfolio organized in a way that it is easy to flip to and point to the answer (it might be a good idea to practice this first). As an Art teacher, Visuals are important. When I am a part of an interview team I need to see what students have done as well as the candidate's own personal work. This helps me see evidence of what this candidate can bring to the team.

4. Do your research. Usually at the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions about the job. Make sure to do your research about the school you are wanting to work and ask questions to clarify any specifics not already discussed. You can ask about schedules (like grade levels or amount of buildings you are in), classroom budget, participation in outside PD, technology concerns, or even use your knowledge to comment on something you know about the school. I always ask a question about the school's vision for the future of the program. It is important to see what they think about what you are teaching and how they see that job or department looking down the road. This gives you insight into your future as a part of that team.

5. Don't forget the "Thank You". After the interview is done, be sure to send "Thank You's" to the teachers and administrators involved. It is a nice gesture that can also give you a chance to recap something you discussed during the interview. This can be done via email or by hand. If you do it online, you can also use it as a chance to send them a link to your online portfolio or professional website. Even if you do not get the job, it ends the process on a congenial note.

 These are just some ideas that worked for me and I hope will land you the job you have been waiting to secure. If you have any interview tips that worked for you, please share. This is a very exciting time to be a teacher and good luck in your search!

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