It is that time of year again. It is time for teachers to contemplate whether they are going return again in the fall or apply for another position. Even if you are returning, you likely know people who are going to be applying and/or interviewing. So, this week's article features some tips for preparing, applying and interviewing.
1) Do your research. You don't want to end up in a school with a philosophy that does not match your own because it will be difficult to go rogue and most likely unappreciated by the rest of the staff. On the other hand, trying to fit in and be someone you are not will leave you unhappy So, try to find out the policy regarding discipline and education. No school is perfect and most of us cannot afford to be too picky, but trying to find the best fit is important for everyone involved.
2) Create a file (digital or paper) with all of your important documents. Have your credentials, test scores, letters of recommendation, resume, important contact numbers for requesting transcripts, etc handy. If you have a portfolio, make sure you know where that is, as well.
3) Put the word out that you are looking for a new position with people who know people. This could be an email to a cohort or professional development group who may know of open positions. Schools use these connections because they want to find people who they think would be a good fit to assuage the pain of losing staff and retraining new hires in the hopes they will work out. These connections are helpful for you as well in finding positions that would be a good fit because your contacts know you and details about the position that needs filling. If you aren't involved with an organization, consider doing so. This could be as simple as volunteering somewhere once a month.
4) Know yourself and how to answer common interview questions. Some of the most frequently asked are:
- Tell us about yourself.
- How do you ensure you are teaching to the state standards?
- How do you prepare students for standardized testing?
- What is your philosophy on teaching and learning?
- What is your discipline philosophy?
- What do you do to make sure the needs of all students are met, especially those with an IEP?
- How do you form relationships with parents and the community?
- What educational programs have you used in the past? What are you familiar with?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness? What will you do to work on this area?
- Describe one of the best lessons you've ever taught.
- Give me some examples of how you are a team player.
5) Start applying now if you haven't already! Schools are finding out now who is and isn't returning and some start looking to fill slots immediately. Don't lose hope, though, if nothing materializes right away. I know so many teachers who were hired at the last minute, myself included.