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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 Jobs.com.

Don’t lose hope.

-Eric

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

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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

We can’t get through the day with0ut hearing about the economy.  Well, the bad economy has impacted education, specifically teacher hiring.  In some districts, hiring has been frozen.  Why?  Districts have no money for new hires or they are waiting to see how the stimulus money will trickle down from the the federal level to the state level to eventually the district level.  This weekend I spoke with a principal who said his hands are tied.  He can’t move on any hiring until this summer (when the District will release their budget).  This is extremely frustrating to principals who tend to want to wrap up their teacher hirings in April and May.  Its even more frustrating to aspiring teachers (job applicants) who are wondering when they will get an interview.

I asked the principal what his advice is to those teacher job applicants.  His advice was to ” keep being persistant.”  Here are some other ideas:

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Student teachers have FUN.  When planning your curriculum, imagine yourself as that student.  Would this be a lesson that you would be interesting and engaging?  If the answer is no, then inject some FUN and be a little silly.  It’s okay!  Be experimental, which means taking some risk that the lesson won’t work.  So be it.  We are practitioners, always seeking better ways to connect curriculum to our students’ lives. 

Elementary and middle-school teachers do a much better job at this than high school teachers.  Loosen up already.  Think outside the box.  Do something that will surprise the students, capturing their attention.  All in all, learning can be FUN and academic.  Not to mention, its reenergizing for the teacher and keeps our content fresh.

I write in my book, Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job, about when I taught a lesson on world poverty in my middle school Social Studies class.  To kick it off the issue of world poverty, I removed most of the students’ desks and chairs.  The remaining desks represented the rich, chairs represented the middle class, and the floor represented the poor.  The number of desks and chairs were proportionate to the breakdown on income levels of the world.  When my students entered the classroom they were immediately stunned and hooked.  Some wondered out loud, “Why are there only three desks in here?”  They were desperate to find out what they were going to learn.  The lesson that followed was rich and engaging.  The students “felt” the problem.  At the end of the lesson, one of my challenging students said “we should do something about this.”  I said “okay, what were you thinking?”  The following week the entire class and I went to a local soup kitchen, resulting in an awakening experience for many of the students.

There’s another benefit to having FUN.  Injecting a little FUN may get your noticed by your principal.  I remember the principal coming in during my poverty unit to see what all the buzz was about.  He loved the lesson.  This experimental lesson led to a glowing recommendation letter, which helped me land some teacher interviews.  Also, it was a great talking point when asked in an interview, “Describe a lesson that you felt went well.”  (click here for more interview questions)

Try something new this week and get noticed!  Have FUN!

I just returned from a workshop that taught school administrators how to use behavior-based interview (BBI) question to hire quality teachers.  The basic idea behind BBI is that the candidate’s past behavior will be the best indicator for future behavior.  BBI has been around for years, but used primarily in business.

A BBI question may start something like:

  • Tell me about a time…
  • Describe your experience with…
  • How have you…
  • What has been your approach to…

Does BBI sound intimidating?  It doesn’t have to be.  There are two great ways to frame each BBI question you are asked.

PAR – Problem, Action, and Result

STAR – Situation/Task, Action, and Result

For every question asked, first describe the problem (e.g. keeping 6th graders on-task) or situation/task (e.g. organizing curriculum).  Then, explain what action you took.  Finally, describe the end result, trying to always tie into improving student learning.  Just remember PAR or STAR when answering BBI questions and you should do just fine!

Check the Teacher Interview Questions page at for sample BBI questions.

For additional information on BBI, visit http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/interviews/a/behavioral.htm

Below are 5 tips from Hubpages on How to Master the Phone Interview.  Check out the link to learn more.

#1: Be Available

#2: No Cell Phones

#3: Research Company

#4: Be Prepared

#5: Put Your Best “Phone Voice” Forward

Resources

http://hubpages.com/hub/masterthephoneinterview

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.

 

RESOURCE LINKS

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

From visiting student teacher chatrooms and speaking with student teachers, I understand that currently there is a significant challenge to find teaching jobs.  Yet, I also read and hear there is a shortage of teachers.  What does this all mean? 

I see this to mean several things.  Yes, there is a teacher shortage for certain specialized positions.  However, I would also argue that there is no teacher shortage for the broad teaching profession.  Without a doubt there is a high demand and low supply of teachers in certain areas (special education, ELL, math, and science) in high-need (inner city and rural) schools.  If you fall into this category then you are in a much better position then a student teacher endorsed in Social Studies, trying to land a job in the suburbs.  On the other hand, having an endorsement in a high demand area does not mean you lack competition.  Regardless of your endorsement or where you plan to teach, today’s principals are seeking individuals that are flexible, dedicated, and an asset to the school in more than one way.  How do you, as a student teacher, stand out?

I came across a link from UK College of Education that allows pre-service and certified teachers to search the certification requirements in all 50 states.  It’s a great resource for teachers on the move or considering teaching in a different state.  For future reference, I have placed a permanent link under the category “Getting a Teacher Job.”

UK College of Education link for state certification

I updated the Teacher Candidate Sample Interview Questions PDF to include over 100 questions.  Feel free to forward this PDF to any teacher preparing for an interview.

For even more sample teacher interview questions, visit our Teacher Interview Questions page.  There are close to 200 teacher interview questions.

For additional strategies, relating to finding a teacher job, then check out the book  Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job.  You can purchase a print version or the e-book version.

E-book version – $8.99 (Lulu.com)

Print version – $13.99 (Amazon.com)

Additional Resource Links

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

List of Teacher Interview Questions

Teacher Interview Questions Page