Friday, July 6, 2012

Looking for a Teaching Job and Deciding

Teaching.  The profession you have chosen.  Now that you have graduated college you are starting the job search.  There are some useful things to know when looking for a job.  Apply to as many as you can that meet your requirements.  What I mean by requirements are things that you need at a job.  These can be: location (town, distance from home), type of school (public, charter, private, parochial, urban, rural, ect.), coworkers (do you know someone), specialties (school known for music, English, theater, etc.), pay scale (this is where you use the internet to see how much schools pay so you know before walking in), and more.  Once you have this list, then start looking for jobs.  When applying for jobs, first check out  This is a place where many schools over the United States and also some over the world put up job listings.  If you haven't created an account, this is a great place to start.  Depending on where you are in the United States, some newspapers may have jobs posted and some schools only post in print.  Many schools these days also have postings on their school sites (some harder to find than others) so if there is a certain school you are looking for, check the site (or find out the names of schools in an area and then search their sites).  If you are still unsure of where to apply, consider your experience as a student teacher and what made it great and what made it challenging.  If you can attribute some of these events into concrete choices that may be related to the school, use this to help you make your choice.  Finally, I would recommend, even if you have your heart set on one school in particular, to apply to a couple so that you gain several things: perspective (seeing how different schools function), a back up (in case unfortunately you do not obtain the job), and practice (the more you practice interviews, the better you are).

Now that you've applied, the next step in procuring a job is the interview.  The interview is a time for information, both for yourself and those in the school looking for a new teacher.  Make sure you are dressed in your best (stand out but for your professionalism), contact the school to see if you need any paperwork (license, sample work, lesson plan, etc.), review the frameworks for the location in which you are applying which indicate what you must teach students in the position in which you are applying for (the topics that are taught in you state such as the Massachusetts Frameworks for Physics), and make sure to have a list of your own questions for the school.  Sometimes, part of the interview process includes doing an example lesson on a topic of the interviewer's choice.  What can you expect in the interview?  The point of an interview is to glean as much information in as little time possible for a position.  Therefore, you may receive similar questions to those below:
  • How do you construct a lesson plan? (from framework to the classroom)
  • How do you assess students?  (Consider effort vs correctness)
  • What is your view on education? (your motto or point of view on teaching)
  • What are your future goals? (do you plan to stay a teacher, move up to administration, further education, etc.)
  • Where does you passion for teaching come from?
  • How do you collaborate with others?
  • How do you handle discipline?
  • How do you energize and motivate a class?
  • How do you create an environment that maximizes learning?
 It is important when answering any question that you are thoughtful (make sure to think before speaking).  Also make sure that you are actually answering the question being asked.  Having myself been on an interviewing committee, one of the most frustrating things that an interviewee can do is try and dodge an important question or answer the wrong question multiple times showing that they are not listening and paying attention.  If you are unsure of what was asked, you can ask several things: request a paper copy for yourself to view, ask that the question be repeated, or ask if the question can be restated in another way.  If you are not the best at interviewing, make sure to consider the above questions and how you might answer them.  Practice in front of family and friends or in front of the mirror so that you are relaxed during the event.  At the end of the interview is your turn to ask your questions.  Some of the questions that you may want to consider asking at the interview are:
  • What courses would I be teaching in the upcoming year?
  • Are there other teachers who have this subject?
  • If so, would I be able to contact them over the summer for planning?
  • Will I have a mentor and if so, when would I be notified? 
  • Is there anywhere that I can access the current health care plans?
  • How long are class periods?
  • Would I have my own classroom?
  • How large are class sizes?
  • Is there any scheduled time during the day for common planning or reflecting?
  • What is the approximate age of the department?
  • Is this a full time position?
  • How easy is it to become involved in the school?
  • How easy is it to create clubs for students (if there is interest)?
  • Does the school offer electronic grading and if so what system do they use?
  • Does the electronic grading system include the ability for teacher sites and mechanisms like blackboard, moodle, or webassign?
By asking these questions, it helps to create a fuller picture of the school so that if you are choosing between several schools, you have more points to analyze and consider.  If you can find the answers to any of these questions before the interview it would make your time easier by coming into the interview with as much information as possible.  Make sure that when you are leaving the interview, if you were not informed how long until receiving further information on the position.

Then, after the interview, you wait and are contacted or not about the position.  If you are offered several jobs, see which ones match your requirements.  If you find yourself caught between a couple of choices, then you want to weigh various things like the teaching environment, coworkers, pay scale (to consider your future), healthcare, and then your requirements from most important to least important until you come to a conclusion.  Now all you have to do is accept!

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