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The McKinsey & Company released a report titled “Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top-third graduates to careers in teaching.”  I’ll summarize the findings of the report:

  • The most effective factor in an effective school is the teacher – Duh.
  • The U.S. doesn’t have a systematic or strategic policy in place to attract and retain top-tier teachers.
  • Reform efforts, i.e. Race to the Top, focus (almost exclusively) on current teachers and their effectiveness, giving very little attention to recruiting future top teachers with strong academic backgrounds.
  • Singapore, Finland, and South Korea recruit 100% of their teachers from the top 1/3 of graduating classes compared to U.S. that recruits 23% from the top 1/3 (and 14% for high poverty schools).
  • Makes the assumption that top-tier teachers have a strong influence on student / school achievement

What best practices to recruit and retain top-tier teachers can we learn from other countries with high performing school systems?  The report detailed a few findings:

  • Admissions to their rigorous teacher education programs is highly selective
  • Some governments pay tuition, fees, and stipend for those selected – NICE!
  • Admissions monitors the market place, taking in less applicants as the job market tightens.  The benefit is increased job security.
  • More $$$ for teacher salaries
  • Increased opportunities for advancement and professional growth

What are your thoughts?


In recent weeks the number of visitors and their emails have been flowing in.  Mostly these are aspiring teachers and job seekers, preparing for an interview or looking for strategies to land a teacher job.  Of course, the teacher interview page, receiving over 200 daily visits alone, and the numerous blog posts are a big hit.

Good news! To further help, I have lowered the price of the e-version of Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job to $5.49 .  This is a fantastic resource for any job seeker looking for a teacher job, especially in light of the tough job market.  This price reduction is 27% off the original e-version and 61% off the print version.

This offer will only last until end of April.  I hope you will use this book and Road to Teaching’s online resources to help in landing your perfect teacher job.

Good luck on the job search!!!!


5.0 out of 5 stars So Simple Sooo Helpful WOW, September 29, 2008

By Eileen (Albuquerque)

This book is a must have!! I always read reviews and consider what the reader says, well please believe me, When I say get the book. It is so simple to ready I couldn’t believe the insight it gives and tips for Students, Pre-service teachers and Student teaching. I highlighted and tagged pages. I am very pleased!! Eric did an awesome job on creating a book for the “unknowns” A lot of websites and examples, book references. Again a very great book for Teachers to be, get it early.

4.0 out of 5 stars Good book to get you started, July 10, 2009

By Laura (Tacoma, WA)

I bought this book right before my student teaching, and while I didn’t use it so much before my student teaching (despite there being a whole section dedicated to the pre-service teacher), it came in handy for what to expect during student teaching and what to do after. There is a website for the book that gives you extremely helpful information, such as the most asked interview questions, to help you prepare and land a job.

If you need some help with the unspoken “rules” of student teaching, or some tips to get a job, this book will help you. Establishing networks in bigger districts is a little harder to do, but those sections may work for smaller districts where there is only one high school, etc.

5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource, July 5, 2008

By Rob (Seattle, WA USA)

This book came in handy as a student teacher and when applying for teaching jobs. I appreciated the strategies on how to jump-start my student teaching on a positive note by creating relationships with my students and CT. Even though I have now completed my student teaching, I will continue to use many of the book’s classroom management and discipline tips in my own classroom, such as the question & answer box and bellnote activity. I recommend this to any student teacher.”

Pick up your copy today!



The education job market is in the midst of a major downturn.  It’s hard on anyone looking a teaching job.  Consider broadening your job search to on-line job market places.  Road to Teaching recommends K-12

Don’t lose hope.


P.S. Check out Road to Teaching’s Teacher Interview page – the web’s largest collection of teacher interview questions.

Stop and think before you answer this question.  The interviewers really don’t want to hear your life story or the names of all your 20 cats.  Rather what they are listening for is how well you will fit into the school, work with your colleagues, and relate to your students.

Talk about yourself and 1-2 life experience, but ALWAYS tie it back to how it will help you in teaching. 

For example:

“I would describe myself as adventurous and outgoing.  Last year I traveled throughout Southeast Asia, traveling to four countries.  I love learning about new cultures and meeting new people.  This is one of the reasons I want to teach at {insert school name}.  It has amazing diversity.  I would take this same enthusiam and apply it to learning more about my students and their backgrounds.”

Hundreds of preservice, beginning, and RIF’d teachers attended a local teacher job fair.  There was a line of teachers that streched around the block to enter this job fair.  It was record attendance!  “Hiring” principals were ready to greet each perspective candidate and then rank them on a predetermined scale.  The scale is different for each principal, but its basically from the low end of do not to call back this candidate to, as one principal said, candidate “walks on water” and must be called to interview

I listened to several principals talk about their experiences at this job fair.  Some were funny and some were scary.  Each principal had their own approach when interacting with each prospective candidate.  One principals said he listens to candidates, only asking a few questions here and there.  Another principal said she asks the prospective candidates interview questions.  Her favorite questions was, “What is your ideal classroom?”  She said that many of the candidates would be stumped and just say “ummmmm.” 

How do you think these candidates were ranked?

I solicited advice from the principals on what candidates should do to help improve their chances of being called back on an interview.  Here are some nuggest of their advice:

Social Graces

Remember your manners and how to properly greet someone.  When you (the teacher candidate) approach a hiring principal at a job fair be sure to shake their hand, introduce yourself, and make eye contact.  From the start you need to establish a personal connection with the principal.  Next, ask the principal if they would like a copy of your resume.  A principal told me that too many candidates would come up, not introduce themselves, and hand them their resume without asking.  This is a no-no.  Start off your interaction on the right foot.

Do Your Homework

When you get notice of an upcoming teacher job fair do some basic homework.  Make a list of school districts and schools that interest you.  Then, do research on the schools (see my book for research strategies/tips).  Copy down your notes and review them right before you speak with the principal from that respective school.  This demonstrates to the hiring principal at the job fair that you have a strong interest in their school and you are familiar with it.  This will set you apart from other candidates, improving your ranking.  Also, it will give you some conversation material when it’s your turn to talk. 

Come Prepared

Another tip the principals told me was that job candidates should come to the fair with their resumes and, if possible, a few letters of recommendation.  The letters of recommendation give the prinicpal greater insight into who you are.

Additional Resources to Get You Hired

Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job

Web’s Largest Collection of Teacher Interview Questions

Now, aspiring and student teachers can order Road to Teaching as an e-book, SAVING close to 40%!

Preview my book at for free.  Learn how to differentiate yourself in your teacher preparation classes, create a positive relationship with your cooperating (master) teacher, establish effective classroom management, perform well in your interview, and much more.

Purchase your copy as an e-book version ( $8.99) or as a print version ( $13.99).

I recently posted Is There a Teacher Shortage?.  I read an article today that argues that the perceived teacher shortage is mainly due to teacher retention – a unique twist to this topic.  The article stated, “Our inability to support high-quality teaching in many of our schools is driven not by too few teachers coming in, but by too many going out, that is, by a staggering teacher turnover and attrition rate.”

I strongly agree with the recommendations stated in the article.  Of course, higher salaries are a given – who wouldn’t support that?  Just as important to me are the other recommendations: improving teacher preparation and supporting student and beginning teachers through an intensive mentoring program.  It is ridiculous to simply train teachers in a university classroom setting, require they complete a short stint student teaching, and then expect the majority of these beginning teachers will be highly effective in their own classrooms.  We all need constant feedback and support to grow professionally, thus greatly reducing teacher attrition and improving student achievement.  

The article was written in a few years ago, but the point is still relevant.  Click this link to read the article: Teacher Retention / Teacher Shortage.


“Both my husband and I are getting certified now (in the same subject) and will both be looking for jobs during the Summer 2009 hiring season.  Are there any articles or advice for those that will be looking for two jobs, not just one? In some countries its normal for employers to ask about your spouse’s situation when you interview for a job, but in America that’s against the law of course.  We think our situation would be an asset to most schools, but how does a couple “sell themselves” on this without seeming pushing or make their interviewer nervous? For example, should we go to job fair booths together, or make our rounds separately? Other teaching couples I know weren’t looking for jobs in the same hiring season, were certified in different subjects, or simply didn’t get married until they were both out of school.”

– Student Teacher

Click on comments for responses

Please email your student teacher questions to

As mentioned in the previous post, how do you, as a student teacher, stand out from other job seekers?

Imagine you are the hiring principal.  You have an open high school Social Studies position and you have narrowed down to two highly qualified (and very similar looking) candidates:

Candidate A: She is a recent graduate from a teacher preparation program.  She interviewed well and had a great portfolio that illustrated her pedagogy and professional growth.  She is certified to teach Social Studies.

Candidate B: She also is a graduate from a reputable teaching program.  She interviewed well and also had a fantastic portfolio full of lesson plans and student work.  She is certified to teach Social Studies and English Language Language Learners (ELL).

Examining both of these highly qualified candidates, which one would you choose?  The principal would hire Candidate BCandidate B is a greater asset to the school because she can teach Social Studies and, if necessary, teach ELL Social Studies.  She would be a fantastic resource, especially if the school’s student demographics are trending toward ELL students.  

Evaluate your own situation.  Which candidate would you typify, A or B

Take a moment and answer these questions:

  • Are you specializing in special education and/or ELL?
  • Are you a male seeking an elementary teaching position?
  • Are you going into a discipline that is in high demand, i.e. science and math?
  • Have you done anything to set yourself apart from other job seekers? 

If you have answered “no” I would highly suggest taking additional courses to improve your chances of being hired in the school of your choice.  Moreover, strive to get enough courses to become certified in that new area.  There is no doubt that it’s additional work, but it will pay off.  For one, not only would you be broadening your educational credentials, you will become a better teacher.  From personal experience, I learned a great deal from the additional ESL courses I took.  With 10-20% of my students being ESL, I have been able to better meet their social and learning needs because of my coursework.  Also, having additional certification opens more doors of opportunities.  Perhaps in 2-3 years of teaching you become fatigued and you need a change.  By having that additional certification allows you to pursue new teaching opportunities, perhaps even within the same school.  Lastly, the additional coursework may increase your income by pushing you up in the pay schedule once you begin teaching.  Of course, this will differ from state to state and district to district.



Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job