Here are the 10 things you need to know to land your dream teaching position.
Applying and interviewing for teaching jobs can be exciting, nerve-racking, and just an overall process that’s really hard to understand. What do you really need to do to land your dream teaching position?
I have started doing interviews for an art teaching position that has opened up in my district this past week. We’ve had some applicants and a few interviews already. I’m going to let you in on a secret or ten. Here are a few of the things that we look at when we are looking through applications and calling people in for interviews.
I cannot stress this enough. Make sure all of your personal information, your past education information, and your experience information is totally up to date! There’s nothing more frustrating in an interview than to be questioning a candidate and find that the information that they put on the resume or in their application packet is not correct or up to date. When your information is not up-to-date it’s an instant strike against you.
The cover letter is the very first thing I look at. Create a great cover letter when you are applying for a teaching position. I read through multiple cover letters and find many things that turn me off to the candidate immediately. The incorrect position being applied for, spelling errors, or a cover letter that is basically a few sentences. BIG No No’s! These will not get a second look let alone an interview. Make sure you have the correct person or people addressed in your cover letter. I have had applicants address their cover letter to a human resources person in another district. It’s understandable that you use the same format for your letter when you’re applying to multiple places, BUT make sure you have the correct person or people addressed. Don’t copy and paste your letters. We can see right through it!
Some applicants that I interview state that they have researched the district in the cover letter. When asked what applicants know about the district, they usually have very vague answers and we can tell that they actually did not research anything about us. Know the district’s mission statement and what their focus is. Site these in your interview to show you understand the direction the school district is headed in. Mention examples and details about the school district. Such as initiatives they might be working on. DO THE RESEARCH!!
You may be asked questions such as,”Can you tell us a little more about the technology you use in your classroom.” You can say,”I’ve used a smart board.” Great!! Give an example of HOW you have used it. This is your “WOW US” moment. Make yourself shine!! Give examples of projects, special student situations, and assessment use.
It’s great to know the buzz words in education, but your interview committee knows if you are just using the buzz words or if you actually have experience doing these things.
5) Your Professional Education Portfolio
We have countless applicants who come in with educational portfolios with extensive written lesson plans. These are fine, but honestly… we aren’t going to read them. I know… You put all that work into lesson plans during student teaching and you want to show them off. But really, we don’t have time for this. Pack your portfolio with pictures and use these when you talk about your experience and examples. When they say a picture is worth a million words, it really is. Make everything neat and professional looking. Use it as a tool to teach the interviewers about what you do.
Most new teachers are willing to take any kind of position they can and are qualified for to just get their foot in the door. You may not be worried about landing your dream job right away. Make sure the position you are applying for is a position you will actually enjoy. Positions change from year to year. It’s just part of the career of an art teacher. You may feel like you landed your dream job. Congratulations! Ask about how teaching positions change from year to year so you know what to expect in the future. Understand that you my have taken a less than desirable position just to get started, but this position could also change into something more desirable as you gain experience and show your value to the district.
Even after 20 years as an art educator and administrator, I learn and grow everyday. You will to! If you don’t know how to work with a certain media or need more experience in something like assessment, be honest and say that! It’s great to have confidence that you know what you’re doing, but trust me, no one will hire someone who thinks they know it all. Talk about what you would bring to the district, the schools you would be teaching at and the team of art teachers you would be joining. How will you add value to each of these? It’s ok to talk about areas you are willing to grow and learn. In fact, I highly encourage it.
First impressions will make or break you. Seriously! Dress professionally and be a professional. Do not be late or make people wait for you. Introduce yourself and go around the room to shake everyone’s hands. Be personable and be yourself. Make sure to thank everyone for inviting you to interview and thank them again at the conclusion of the interview.
Have a set of questions ready to ask in the interview. If it’s your first screening interview this isn’t the time to ask about salary ad benefits. That’s something to talk about in a second interview or after the position has been offered to you. Ask about the direction the district would like to head to in the future. Inquire about certain things that may not have been covered in the interview. Ask about the expectations of the position you have applied for. All of these types of questions are good to ask.
Send a thank you to all the interviewers. Send the thank you as an email the same day of the interview. Thank them for their time. Mention you’re grateful to have the opportunity to interview. Make yourself memorable!
The first interview is the gateway to the second interview and getting that dream teaching position. Follow these suggestions, and your chances of landing your first teaching job will increase immensely. These may sound like common sense to some but after the 100’s of people I have interviewed over the years I know they are not.
Go out there, be yourself, follow the suggestions I have listed, and land that dream teaching job!