Most recent college graduates believe that once they have completed their student teaching, passed their exams, and earned their certification, the path to a job is already paved. Unfortunately, with budget cuts on the rise, there is more competition for the best teaching jobs. Preparing a great interview is necessary for teachers who want to land a job teaching at their dream school.
Landing an Interview
One mistake that many applicants make in applying for education jobs is responding to the ad in the paper or online, sending an application, and moving on. Before an application is ever filed, the candidate should research the school. Reviewing the school website, local newspapers, or friends and colleagues that work in the district can help a prospective teacher gather information to write a cover letter that aligns closely with the needs of the school.
Private schools may have different application requirements or may be looking for different skill sets than public schools. Knowledge of the school helps candidates describe what they can contribute to a specific school setting. Since application forms are more frequently automated via the internet, the cover letter and resume are the keys to landing an interview, and should create interest in the hiring committee.
There are several useful steps to prepare for a teaching interview. First, it is important to know what types of job interview questions will be asked. The website K12 Academics has many sample questions that fall into categories of specific classroom situations, general curricular considerations, and teaching philosophy. It is imperative that applicants have a thorough understanding of their teaching philosophy.
While the teaching philosophy is usually prepared for a teaching portfolio in the final year of an education program, the philosophy may not have addressed real-world problems. Applicants who review interview questions with their teaching philosophy in mind will be more prepared to address specific issues during their interview. Finally, a friend or family member can conduct a mock-interview to help the candidate practice answering questions in a concise manner.
On interview day, time and care should be taken in both grooming and dress. The Connecticut Department of Labor offers several excellent suggestions for specific behaviors that are appropriate in an interview setting. Although some schools allow for more casual dress than others, it is recommended that job applicants dress in business-appropriate attire for the interview.
For men and women, a traditional suit and dress shoes are appropriate, and clothing should be freshly ironed – neatness counts. Remove body piercing and wear minimal jewelry so that the attention of the interviewer or panel is focused on the content of the interview rather than the appearance of the applicant. Confident body language and attention to proper etiquette polish the overall image of a job candidate, and show that the candidate is ready to handle the responsibilities of a classroom with professionalism.
Interview Follow Up
Many job seekers forget about interview follow-up. However, the follow-up shows a higher level of motivation and desire on the part of the candidate. Writing a brief thank-you note to the interviewer or committee for their time is an excellent idea. A card or short letter shows a serious approach and appreciation for the interviewers time, and leaves a positive impression. A mention of something specific about the school, like the nice facilities or warm and caring atmosphere, would be appropriate to include in the note.
Yes, it takes effort to do research, apply to several schools, and write individual cover letters that connect with principals or hiring staff. Even more effort is required to find clothing that is comfortable for the wearer while being appropriate for an interview. Remembering to write a follow-up note might seem stressful as a candidate is simultaneously preparing for other interviews. However, following these steps will help candidates land their dream teaching job.
How to Become a Teacher
Making a difference in the life of a child is one of the best benefits of becoming a teacher. You also get your summers off in most cases, and have great holiday breaks. Even so, when asked what is the best part of their job, teachers all say that the children are the reason they love their job. If you are a student looking to start a career in teaching after graduation or a professional already in the workforce looking for a career change, there are options for you. Here are the two best ways to become a teacher.
Obtaining a Teaching Degree
Attending a college or university, studying some type of education and graduating with a teaching degree is the traditional and most common method of becoming a teacher. These programs combine practice and pedagogy to help produce teachers who are versed in the most up to date research on effective teaching methods.
These programs can be rigorous depending on the school, and generally include two or more practice teaching experiences over the course of four years. These programs help you jump through the hoops of certification, informing you of deadlines and testing requirements, providing mentors and advice to guide you through the process. Many professors provide their students with letters of recommendation, interview tips and more.
Alternate Route Teacher Programs
An option that is increasing in popularity is the alternate teacher programs that are available across the country. Teach for America, and the Prince George’s County Teaching Fellows are two such programs. These programs involve an in-depth screening process to choose highly qualified individuals from other careers and help them through the process of becoming a teacher.
Providing training, mentors, and certification support, these programs have a high level of success in the schools that accept their teachers. These programs usually have requirements including a certification fee, class attendance, test scores, a minimum contract length and a placement in a high-needs school*. Even so, they are familiar with the certification process and will help guide you through the hoops, providing support and encouragement.
The next generation of students needs teachers who are dedicated to providing them the best education possible, not only for a future career but for life. When considering whether you want to teach, remember the goal is not to have your summers off, but to put in the extra time and effort necessary to reach the unreachable, teach the unteachable and love the unlovable.