13 tips to landing that dream job as a school teacher

Posted September 23, 2014 by
Teacher helping pupils studying at desks in classroom

Teacher helping pupils studying at desks in classroom. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Teaching is rewarding for many reasons, yet landing a job in this sector is not as simple as teaching the ABCs. It’s a special profession, which warrants job skills as well as deep empathy.

Others may tell you that it’s who you know in addition to what you teach, but aside from acquaintances and inside relations, check out the following secrets presently employed teachers used to land their dream job.

Look Professional

Candidates worry about what they look like during an interview without fretting over their resumes. One candidate leveraged a graphic artist to make his resume standout from the rest.  Presentation counts, so make sure you work hard at looking your best.

Use Multimedia

Supervisors expect teachers to use multimedia in the classroom. Impress principals with a DVD that contains a brief introduction, clips from previous teaching engagements, or a model lesson.  It’s a digital world; principals appreciate teachers familiar with technology who may share that expertise with students.

Place a Damper on Negativity

One candidate made his ‘greatest weakness’ appear as a strength, phrasing it in a way that expressed his penchant for working long hours. What you say is as important as how you say it.  Don’t be negative, and always present a positive demeanor and tone.

Be Genuine

One teacher focused on being less anxious and nervous during the interview rather than feign super confidence or use a gimmick to impress. His genuine passion and desire to become a teacher took precedence during the interview and got him the position he really wanted.

Explain History and Gaps

Don’t hide previous work experience, employers, or gaps in employment, or absences from the classroom. Address why you have little experience or have not been in a classroom for more than five years if applicable. Often, other work experiences can directly relate to teaching.

Ad Material

Selling yourself is a part of landing a job, so consider modeling after one teacher who used a cereal box as her resume, with references, accolades from former students, and her qualifications on the box to land an art teacher position.

Be Open to Extras

Be receptive to filling additional needs at the school, such as serving as the scorekeeper at the soccer games, helping with theatre productions, or coaching the baseball team in the spring.  Principals appreciate candidates who are willing to get involved in and outside the classroom.

Research the District

Those who get the job know where they are interviewing, researching the school district beforehand to gain a sense of the socio-economics of the area, its history, and background of inhabitants, job opportunities, and levels of education. Some styles of teaching are better suited for underprivileged areas that need hard working and dedicated teachers to address the basics.

Be Prepared for Questions

It’s easy to make ourselves look great on paper, but it’s difficult to maintain poise when asked questions by potential employers.  One successful candidate prepared by asking other teachers about the questions that arise during a typical interview. Teaching philosophy, disciplining, and unplanned emergencies were common topics, and knowing ahead made responses succinct and impressive.

Show Don’t Tell

Every candidate wants to impress. Along with mentioning accomplishments on the resume, anxious interviewees talk about how they’re good at this and wonderful at that, yet it’s better to let experience speak for you. Use examples from your own experiences (those taking place outside of the classroom too) to show you’re a great candidate rather than spouting off about your strengths.

Maintain Eye Contact

Police and military agents grill interviewees, watching out for subtle cues that signal a person is lying or not being altogether honest. Not that you would lie (maybe fib a bit?), but it’s important to maintain eye contact throughout the teaching interview. It shows courage, honesty, and respect for the other person. Those who need time to elaborate or fabricate information usually look away from the listener.

Ask Questions

Ideally, an interview is a period that helps the best candidate fulfill a position, which involves the potential teacher asking questions too, such as those related to tuition reimbursement, ability to become a supervisor, and opportunities to get involved in athletics and extra-curricular activities.  Asking questions expresses increased enthusiasm and interest in the position.

Send a Thank You

It’s commonplace to thank a principal for interviewing you, and many people do it via email in the digital age.  But, one candidate appeared ‘above the class’ by handwriting a letter in calligraphy rather than rushing through a brief obligatory sounding email.  Each sentiment is a chance to make an exceedingly great impression.

Ashley William is a busy teacher and mother of four. When she finds the time, she likes to help young people enter the teaching world by providing some helpful tips. Look for her articles on various education and career blog sites. For information and help with creating your professional teaching resume, use College Recruiter’s free online resume builder service.

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