This post is meant for all of the brand new teachers that just graduated, but these tips could help anyone if you tweak them. In this post, you’ll learn how to land the perfect teaching job for you by knowing what to look for and what you value in pedagogy.
Let me set the scene for you: You’re an education major that finished your student teaching internship, submitted your edTPA (if applicable), applied for licensure, and, most importantly, walked across that stage at graduation (congratulations, by the way)! What’s your next step? Obviously, finding your first professional teaching experience.
Some teachers are fortunate enough to have student taught in a school with an open position for them, but if you’re like me and the school you taught at was full, it’s time to buckle down and puruse the job market.
As a brand new college graduate, the job market is overwhelming for anyone! But when I finished student teaching and graduated, I felt lost. Where are all of the teaching jobs? Let me help you! Here’s how you can find open teaching jobs and what statistics you should look for to find the perfect school for you:
LIST YOUR STUDENT TEACHING EXPERIENCE ON YOUR RESUME.
This is a given. As a student teacher, your job was that of an unpaid teacher. You put the time in like any other teacher would and all without pay, so share what you learned and did! Don’t omit this experience because you didn’t get paid (and if you did get paid, I’m jealous!) — this is still a relevant teaching experience regardless of whether the school or district your applying to counts it towards your professional years of experience.
Not to mention, most schools and districts require you to list your student teaching experience on applications if you’ve had three years or less experience in the field, so keep in contact with your cooperating teacher, the school you student taught at, and your university sponsor.
HIGHLIGHT ALL OF YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE (EVEN IF IT DOESN’T RELATE TO TEACHING).
You’d be surprised at how easily you could spin prior work experience to highlight skills and qualities schools are looking for in potential teachers.
If you worked in sales, you have communication and possibly problem solving skills which are relevant to teaching. Were you a part of a wait staff team at a restaurant? Again, you can highlight your communication skills, but also highlight your organizational and time management skills. If you were a manager anywhere in any field, you have experience managing a team which is pretty much classroom management just substitute students for adults.
Even though the field may not be relevant to education, the skills are still there, so don’t be afraid to list all of your experiences and highlight your job duties.
DECIDE WHETHER YOU WANT TO TEACH IN AN URBAN, SUBURBAN, OR RURAL SETTING.
Choose your location based on preference, but also based on experience. Let me use my teacher training as an example.
All of my clinicals were in Chicago schools except for two exerpiences — one observation and my student teaching experiences. A majority of my experience came from observing teachers in an urban setting and although my student teaching experience was in a suburban school, the school was located on the border of Chicago and the surrounding suburb. Because of this, it made most sense for me to apply to urban and suburban schools.
As well, my boyfriend works for a job that requires him to live in the city of Chicago (it’s in his contract), so I made it a point to look for open positions in Chicago because I like living in the city and I wanted to be with him (still do, for the record). This led me to solely looking in and starting my career in Chicago, and here I am today!
Keep this in mind when looking at schools and districts, and really think about what you’re willing to accomplish, and possibly sacrifice, to build your career.
BE OPEN TO DIFFERENT TYPES OF SCHOOLS.
When it comes to competitiveness in the field, landing a high school English teaching position is highly competitive because of the low demand — whereas high school math or science is high demand, low compeitition.
If you’re licensed in a highly competitive concentration of education, be open to different types of schools. Yes, you can be interested in teaching in whatever type of school you’d like, but don’t discourage the rest — there’s charter, private, parochial, day, and so many others that are hiring, too. Each type has their own set of pros and cons, but you don’t know until you apply!
For me, I got my start in alternative education. Alternative education offers students an “alternative” way to get their high school diploma, and they’re a setting for students that were expelled from a traditional school or they failed out of a traditional school. Was it ideal? No, but I wouldn’t go back. I gained a lot of classroom management and differentiation experience over the past three years that I believe make me more marketable and invaluable to a traditional school setting (and I like to think it helped me land my brand new teaching job in a traditional charter school that I will be starting next school year).
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK THE “HARD” QUESTIONS IN AN INTERVIEW.
I skipped this when I was looking for my first teaching job, and I shouldn’t. First, no matter what job you’re interviewing for, you should always ask questions. Second, think about your non-negotiables and ask questions around those to ensure that you know the culture and climate you’d be getting yourself into if you accepted a job with the school.
For me, my non-negotiables are guaranteed raises, being part of a teachers union, strong leadership, and up-to-date technology so I make sure to ask questions about salary schedules, union documents, how administration collaborates, and how often classroom technology is updated.
Your non-negotiables may be different, and that’s okay, but you do need to consider what’s most important to you so you can perform your job duties well and for your overall job satisfaction. It may be awkward, but it’s important to ask these hard questions because you don’t want to be stuck in a job and teaching environment you hate. I’ve been there and done that, I just ended up back on the job market the next year.
OTHER THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A POTENTIAL TEACHING JOB:
- A salary schedule and union documents — if they have it, they’ll list it on their website. If you can’t find it on the school’s website, then the chance you getting a yearly raise is slim to none.
- Search the district and/or state report cards. Illinois offers a comprehensive ranking of every school in the state; Chicago does, as well. To find out if your city or state does, just search the name of a school with “[city/district/state] report card” after it.
- After you find the school’s report card, the statistics you should review immediately are the teacher retention, chronic absenteeism, and student mobility percentages.
- Teacher retention is obvious because teachers will stay in positive teaching environments for longer periods — so if a school’s teacher retention percentage is less than 75%, pass! The teachers aren’t happy, so what makes you think you’ll be happy if the school is a revolving door?
- What will attendance look like in your class at that school? You want to make sure the chronic absenteeism percentage is low because you want students to come to school and learn. If the chronic absenteeism percentage is higher than 20%, get ready to play catch up on a daily basis with your students to make sure they’re meeting benchmarks and state requirements. I’ve been doing this for the past three years now; I’m being transparent when I say it’s not as rewarding having to teach the same thing over and over again to get students caught up as it is to teach progressively through units and a curriculum map.
- Student mobility is a key indicator of how the school handles behavior, discipline, and restorative practices. If a school has a high student mobility percentage, that means students are being suspended or expelled at a higher rate, and they are being pushed to alternative schools or programs with or without the option to re-enroll.
I hope these tips help brand new teachers as well as experienced teachers looking to make a change!
IN THE COMMENTS . . .
Whether you work in education or not, share your tips when it comes to finding the perfect job. The most important thing to do when looking for a new job (regardless of field) is to do your research. Put the hard work in now by learning anything and evertything about the school or company so you can ensure it’s a good fit and that you can happily build a career there — otherwise, you risk searching the job market year after year.
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