All right as this education-job-hunting season is hitting a real stride let me give some advice to my little baby-teachers out there looking for their first teaching jobs.
1. Most job postings are going to ask for something like “3-5 years experience.” Apply anyway. Seriously, APPLY. ANYWAY. Worst that can happen is that you won’t get a call, and if they DO call you that means that with all their other applicants, you stood out enough that they want to see you. That’s HUGE and take it that way.
2. Do NOT apply for jobs that you don’t actually think you’ll enjoy. This can work in some professions, but not teaching. You can’t go into teaching already expecting to be unhappy and expect it to just magically be better. The kids will sense it immediately and they don’t need or deserve that. It just makes everything harder.
3. In the interview, make sure to ask what extra duties the job might entail. Supervisory duties, electives, extra curricular activities, etc. can all be tacked on depending on the school. The smaller the school, the more likely you are to wear many hats, and make sure it’s something you’re ok with.
4. Another thing to ask in the interview is what a typical teacher workday looks like. How long do they get for planning? How many classes do they typically teach? What are student breaks like and what is the teacher’s role during those breaks? How long are classes and how many times a week are they held (especially in high school, you’d be surprised at the variation in scheduling that you’ll find).
5. Find out if your district has a common application for all schools or if each school has a distinct one (my state does a common application for all schools in a county and schools you’re qualified for can find your application and reach out to you once it’s live).
6. Research the student-teacher ratio of schools you’re looking into. The smaller the ratio the easier for first-time teachers, in my experience. Smaller schools are also better.
7. Ask if you can tour the school during your interview, if they don’t offer. It can give you a sense of what kind of community the school has built, even during the summer.
8. Spend some time on the school’s website. Not only can it give you some overall good information about the school in general, but it can also give you a good idea of the type of community the school has. Do they post pictures of kids doing cool things? What kinds of cool things? Is there mention of parent events or involvement? Do they recognize students who do cool stuff outside of school? All of these could be good indicators of the community you’re going to.
9. Another interview question (these are important to me because I always get super awkward and have a hard time coming up with questions to ask): What sort of support is there for new teachers. Will you have regular meetings with your admin, will you get planning or curriculum support, will you have a mentor teacher, is there an orientation? You want positive answers to most, if not all, of these. Trust me.
10. I know this is hard to hear, but don’t accept jobs that wouldn’t give you adequate planning time. That includes calling and wanting to hire after preplanning has started. Don’t take a job that gives you no planning period during the actual school day either. I speak from experience, it’s going to be REALLY hard if you don’t have adequate planning time and a period without students during the day. Don’t do that to yourself.
Above all of these: don’t take a job that doesn’t feel right. If the interviewer or admins seem off in any way, or the job is asking you to do more than you’re comfortable with, or the school itself gives you vibes you don’t like, then don’t take it. If you don’t find something this summer, get on your district’s sub rotation or something and spend the time getting more experience. Don’t feel like you failed if it takes a while to get your own classroom!
All very good advice!
What school actually asks for 3-5 years teaching experience? We’re in a national teacher shortage right now. Schools are lucky if they can find CERTIFIED teachers. My district has a FACEBOOK page advertising to anyone “HEY SWITCH CAREERS, COME TEACH!”
Many places don’t care if you have experience or not anymore, some are so desperate, they just want a body in a room. Bonus if you have certification. If you’re certified AND have experience, the job is basically yours! No way a school is going to be able to ask for 3-5 years experience when over 50% of new teachers quit the profession before they get to year 5.