Friday, July 20, 2018

Still Looking For a Teaching Job? Here's 8 Tips.

We are about a month away from the start of the 2018-19 school year.  Parents cheer at that, kids groan, and educators are probably somewhere in the middle.

Finding a teaching job can be such a crapshoot.  Sometimes we receive hundreds of applications and resumes for a single position and unfortunately, we do not have the time to interview hundreds of people.  Obviously, we are missing out on some quality candidates if we don't bring them all in for an interview.

Whether you are a recent graduate, or you have relocated to another state, you may be stressed and/or disappointed you have not landed that teaching job yet.  Below are 8 tips for getting your foot in the door and landing that first job.

1.  It's not over yet.

In districts that are seeing growth in enrollment, especially at the elementary level, there is still a chance they will need to add a position to accommodate class sizes.  Some districts have specific class size agreements with the teachers' union that are addressed in the negotiated agreement, while others have aspirational size limits.  Regardless, there is still a chance for a late opening.  Be on the lookout and apply quickly.

If you are not currently employed as a teacher, that actually gives you an advantage at this time.  In Ohio, once July 10th passes, teachers currently employed by another school district must be released from their contract by their board of education.  Many schools who are adding a late teaching position do not want to deal with that red tape.

So keep your eye open for late postings, all the way up to the start of school.

2.  Apply for tutor positions within a school district.

Many large school districts will hire teachers as reading and math tutors.  But there is a catch (there's always a catch).  These positions are typically not full-time which will be reflected in the pay and benefits.  The positive of accepting a position like this is it is a one-year audition for you.  Do a great job and perhaps it could lead to a full-time position the following year.  

Ok, so let's say the school year has started and you did not land a spot.  Time to start your path as a substitute teacher.  While it is not the ideal situation, you have the opportunity to use it to your advantage.

Principals know who the good subs are and who are the ones we wouldn't hire.  I'll assume you are going to do a great job.  With that being said, here's what I would do.

3.  Get to know the office staff.  

I'm going to be blunt here.  There is a difference between being the needy or talkative person who is always in the office chatting with everyone and the person who stops by in the morning to check in and doesn't come back until checking out at the end of the day.  You don't want to be either one.  Find that balance in between.

4.  Get to know the principal.  

Again as previously mentioned, find that balance in getting to know him or her.  It could eventually lead to receiving feedback on what you can do to improve and to find out if you have a future with that school or district.

5.  If you are a regular sub, seek feedback from a building administrator.  

You need to take the time to build that relationship with the building administrator.  However, if you have been a semi-regular sub, it doesn't hurt to ask. I have observed lessons, provided feedback, and had honest conversations with some of our substitute teachers.  Honest doesn't always mean good, but at least you'll know where you stand.  This doesn't typically happen if you have only been in our building a handful of times throughout the year.

6.  Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.

Don't just sub in one building or one district.  Unless you know you are a shoe-in for a job, don't put all of your eggs in one basket.  Whether you realize it or not, every time you sub is an audition.  By taking substitute positions in multiple buildings and districts, you are putting yourself on the radar of multiple people who will be hiring for the 2019-20 school year.  

7.  Don't spread yourself too thin.

Again, balance is the key.  If you are taking substitute positions in too many districts and too many different buildings, you risk people not getting to know you, which makes it difficult to build those relationships and give yourself the opportunity to get your foot in the door.

8.  Long-term sub.

There are many benefits and risks to taking a long-term sub position.  The stability, pay and benefits, and practical experience are obviously huge positives of the position.  However, the potential negative is you are putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Am I saying you shouldn't take a long-term sub position?  Not at all.  Just know it will be the biggest and best audition you will have for a full-time position.  Do a great job and it could lead to a job within that district.  At the very least, you will come away with a great recommendation and some practical experience as you go through the interview process next year.

Ryan is the Director of Special Education in the West Muskingum Local School District and principal of West Muskingum Elementary School in Zanesville, Ohio.  He is also the co-author of the book Your School Rocks...So Tell People!

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