Between a career change and two moves across the country, I have interviewed for more than my share of jobs, including my current one which involved me teaching a lesson about the mole via FaceTime. In my previous career, I sat on the other side of the table and can count the number of interviews I have conducted in the hundreds. I’ll admit it, I’m an interview junkie, you need a teacher for that hiring committee? Sign me up. Which means that I have given an immense amount of thought into what makes a great interview, and how people are selected to get to the interview portion.
You want a teaching job? Let’s get you one.
Today is part one, we will be going over an example job description to see how a brand new teacher can optimize their paper application to get them in the door.
First, I am going to assume that you are a hard worker that cares about students and puts them first. If you aren’t, then teaching is probably not the career path for you. With that out of the way, let’s commence.
Step One: The Application
Unfortunately and fortunately, hiring is often done by committee. The first task of that committee is to screen applications. This involves staff (and sometimes computers!) combing through your paper application to ensure that you meet the required qualifications. Then, they will go on to see if you meet any of the preferred qualifications. Points are usually assigned, and similar to a rubric for an English essay, your work is boiled down to a score. This is where you MUST be detail oriented.
Required Qualifications: To the left are the qualifications pulled from the 1.0 FTE Science Teacher position at my high school. These are fairly standard and you should have been prepared to meet these by your certification program. Make absolutely certain that it is extremely clear that you do, or will meet these requirements or you won’t get past the first step.
Preferred Qualifications: Let’s say that you are finishing up your student teaching right now. Might seem difficult to get anything beyond the required qualifications if you are just starting your teaching career. What should you do? Sell yourself.
The first four bullets are all endorsements, either you have those or you don’t. It never hurts to add another one, especially if you are looking at small districts, but that’s a conversation for a different day.
- Experience teaching at the _______ level: If you are student teaching at a level that you are not applying for, talk to your mentor teacher NOW about getting connected with a teacher at the level you are seeking a position in. See if you can work on a lesson and experience it up at that level. This will give you a small amount of experience as well as some talking points in the interview.
- Experience with __________ curriculum: You may or may not have this specific experience. When I interviewed for my job, I was asked about AP curriculum so I talked about how I had taken quite few AP classes when I was in high school. Which is certainly better than saying I had no experience. Even if you don’t know the specific program, could be AVID, AP, IB, etc. This is a signal that you must research it and be able to communicate your knowledge of it.
- Evidence of participation in building and school committees and/or activities: Most student teachers are part of this and don’t always consider it as a special experience. Count any committees you were a part of with your mentor teacher. Better yet, join a PLC at your school, sit in on anything you can, and enter the conversation. Schools always need help, ask around and you will find an opportunity. For example, I helped with Link Crew and Knowledge Bowl when I student taught.
The point is, if you have experience with it, make sure that it is clearly stated in your application. If you can drum up the experience in the very near future, make it happen. If neither of these are possible, make sure that you are well informed of what they are asking. `
Job Description: As you read through the job description, note what words are emphasized or repeated. The description of my example job repeats organization, planning, communication, and emphasizes instruction and curriculum with a nod to the NGSS as well as a caps lock section pleading for applicants to consider coaching or advising. Weave these words into your cover letter. This goes for letters of recommendation as well. Send the job descriptions of your top picks to all of you letter writers. Times change and districts may be looking for slightly different qualities or edu-jargon than they used to.
Finally, proof-read, have a friend look over your application, double-check that you have all materials necessary, and proof-read again. Make sure you get it in quickly, as searches will often close as soon as a minimum number of qualified candidates have applied.
The goal of the paper application is to demonstrate that you are qualified and deserve an interview. The goal of the interview is to get hired, but more so for to see if you will fit well in the position.
Ready for part two? Let’s do it!
Comment with questions and other helpful application advice as the class of 2017 starts job searching! Are you a brand new teacher? Feel free to e-mail me with questions as well –> firstname.lastname@example.org
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