Tuesday, July 5, 2016

5 Tips to Land the Teaching Job You've Always Wanted

5 Tips to Land the Teaching Job You've Always Wanted
It's the summer shuffle.  Veteran teachers may decide to retire, switch positions, or change districts.  Principals are busy searching through prospective candidates to quickly fill any positions that the summer shuffle leaves open.  So, if you are in the market for a new teaching home...how do you become the perfect candidate for the job?

Here are five tips that just may help you land the teaching job you've always wanted.

Tip 1: Create a Professional Online Presence

What would your social media accounts say about you?  Your social media presence will most likely provide the first impression to potential interviewers.  Make sure that you remove any posts or photographs that might be construed as unprofessional.  My principal always mentioned the "Front Page Test" when it comes to social media - if you wouldn't want your news broadcasted on the front page of the newspaper, then you probably shouldn't post it.

Any public accounts linked to your name should be used to communicate professional information - educational articles, teacher inspiration, classroom ideas, etc.  Your interviewer could get a quick idea of what interests you by just glancing at your nine tile grid on Instagram, so make sure they are good ones!

Do you have an online portfolio?  You may want to think about creating a website or wiki with a professional domain name to include on your resume or online application.  Upload artifacts, such as: documents or handouts you have created, examples of parent communication, a unit plan, a lesson plan, rubrics, and photographs of your lessons in action.  Good documentation with a well-written explanation might just get you a chance to interview face-to-face!

Tip 2: Do Your Homework

You get called to come in for a personal interview - awesome!  Don't forget the details - which position, who will you be interviewing with, and the interview style.  Will it be one-on-one with several different administrators or district representatives at different times?  Could it be a panel interview with several grade level or department representatives plus the principal?  These are all good questions to ask to help you be prepared.  Also, do your absolute best to be available whenever the interview committee has offered the interview - find a baby-sitter or switch shifts with someone.  Make. It. Happen.  A face-to-face interview opportunity is golden!

Once you can envision what the interview might look like, then start researching the school.  Read about the school on its website, twitter account, or blog.  Look into the grade level team's website(s) to see any interesting activities that were conducted during the last school year.  These activities will provide you with some possible talking points during conversation, which shows that you were interested in the district; and it also will allow you to start developing some good questions to ask at the end of your interview about the school and position based on what you found.

Another good resource for school district data is the state report card.  Demographics and test scores can help you have an idea about the make-up of your school and specific challenges students may be having in certain academic areas.  Although, testing might be just a little snippet of the school's reality, it may also be a potential question as to what you may bring to the table to help close any learning gaps, etc.

Tip 3: Be Authentic

It's interview day!  Even if teachers typically do not wear suits on a daily basis, the interview is the one time when you want to dress to impress.  You will definitely stand out in a positive way if you confidently walk into the interview with sharp looking business attire!

Present your authentic self during the interview.  You want to make sure this is a match for you as much as it is for the district.  Answer professionally yet honestly.  The principal will know if you are just reciting some kind of textbook answer.  Use your experience and personality to weave an incredible interview answer that will set you apart from the other candidates!

Tip 4: Showcase your Potential
Teacher Interview Portfolio Dividers - Freebie - Be one step closer to landing the teaching job you've always wanted!
Use your portfolio to help you explain how you might handle a situation or how you have planned a prior unit.  Show photographs and artifacts that can support how you may have incorporated collaborative learning or technology in the classroom.  Be prepared with either a hard copy of your portfolio in a well-organized binder with tabs under the general categories of: classroom management, assessment, differentiation, unit planning, collaboration, technology, policies and
procedures, project-based learning.  This will help you quickly flip to that section, so you may utilize your experiences to visually support your answer.

In lieu of a binder, you may also choose to share your artifacts on an iPad, but you would want to make sure it was not dependent on wireless internet to access your information as that may not be dependable or accessible in all schools - especially during summertime.

Tip 5: Close the Deal

Whew!  The interview is coming to an end, and you should have a good idea of how it went.  Just to make sure you end on a positive note, have some questions ready pertaining to the district - like:
  • What are some ways that the school ensures the community is involved in education?  
  • What are some professional development courses that are offered since I like to grow continuously as an educator?  
  • What kind of technology is available to students and teachers on a daily basis?
  • What is the hiring timeline for this position?
Be prepared for a closing statement.  How would you answer the question: Why should I hire you?  This question may cause you to stumble around a bit if you aren't prepared for it.  But, this is your opportunity to recap all the positives that you would bring to the district (making sure to include anything you specifically touched on during the interview) and how you feel like you are a good fit for the position.  This might be a good question to practice beforehand so you can pull off a smooth and confident, yet modified to fit the situation, response as you exit.

Thank everyone for their time as you shake their hands on the way out.  Make sure to grab a card, if available, or jot down their names as soon as you get in the car so you can handwrite - yes, handwrite! - a formal thank you note once you get home. 

Reflect on your interview.  What went well?  Which area(s) made you feel uncomfortable to address?  Think about how you could research or improve your portfolio for any future interviews.  The wait between the interview and a decision can drive one crazy, so continue to stay positive and patient.  There is always a large number of candidates who apply for any one position, so even making it to the personal interview stage is a huge accomplishment.  Good luck!
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