Saturday, March 22, 2014

For My Step-Daughter

My step-daughter is in her third year of college.  Her major?  Education.  I wanted to give her some advice on getting a job, but decided to give this advice to everyone.  Please add your thoughts to the comments or provide a link if you have something to add.

Dear Brianna,

I'm so excited that in less than two years you will enter the great world of teaching.  You will hear many people try to talk you out of this, but I've seen you with kids, and teaching is where you belong.  Right now the job market is very competitive and I want to give you an advantage.

1) Start a professional blog.  I bet you think you have nothing to offer the blogging community or the readers because you don't have your own classroom.  You couldn't be farther from the truth.  Blogging gives you your own space to work through your ideas.  If you have an idea and want advice, like a lot of advice; blog about it.  Have a great lesson that you want to share?  That's the place.  Here's the best part, once you start sharing, you'll find a goldmine of others' ideas.  The ideas grow exponentially, it's overwhelming.  Prospective employers will love to see that you seek out your own (free) professional development online.  One blogger I know has been offered a teaching job because of her blog.  A job she never applied for.

2) Create a 'class' website.  This might seem silly: to create a website for imaginary students, but it's better to say at an interview "Here is what I have created." rather than "Here is what I plan to create."  Have a website where students (and even parents) can go for lessons, class news, links to other sites, etc.

3) Network with other teachers online.  In my opinion, twitter is the best place for this.  Follow teachers you admire, participate in education chats, offer solutions, ask questions, share, steal, and network.

4) Attend a professional conference.  Just like networking online, attending a professional conference is the face-to-face version.  I get so fired up after attending a conference I can't wait to get back to my classroom.  This is enthusiasm that can't be faked.  Any employer would be blind to not see it.

5) Be different.  Think outside the box and make yourself known.  What will make your resume stand out?  QR codes linking to you blog, website, and/or a video?  What will make your interview memorable?

6) Be confident.  I sit in on interviews in my district and nothing gets my attention first more than confidence.  Confidence helps with so many things in teaching.  It helps with classroom management, respect from colleagues, and positive attention from administrators.

7) Visit classrooms even when you don't have to.  I know that you are required to complete observations while you are in college, but don't stop there.  Even after you graduate, watch other teachers.  The thing that kills instruction is teaching in isolation.  Get out there and see what other teachers are doing.  Then steal their ideas.

I know that you are going to be an amazing classroom teacher.  Your students will be very lucky to even know you.  Welcome to a great profession!



  1. This is great advice, Nora. I've been on an interview panel a few times and I have a few things to add based on that experience and my own job hunt.
    1. Get familiar with the Common Core Standards (or whichever standards are used where you'll be looking for work). It's impressive to see interviewees some in already well-versed in what they will be teaching and where that falls in the continuum of instruction.
    2. Do some research on the schools or district where you are applying and tailor your answers accordingly. Is the school one-to-one with technology? Your answers should address how you would use that amazing resource to its fullest. Are you looking at working in an under-funded district? Talk about some low-tech ways you would be able to accomplish great things with limited resources. Visit the school's website and do your homework.
    3. Never underestimate the value of every personal contact you make while you're interning. The retired teacher who came to observe me a couple of times while I was student teaching turned out to be a great friend to the math specialist at my school. One phone call later, the math specialist knew she wanted to hire me before the high school had the chance!

    1. Great advice! Thanks for your input. You are so right about getting to know the district ahead of time. I feel it shows the administration you really want the job and are willing to do a little extra work to get it.