How New Teachers Can Stand Out in a Pool of Applicants
A topic often overlooked by many teacher preparation programs is how to land your first teaching job after graduation. Fortunately, new teachers have some advantages right out of the gate. The first is that many states suffer from teacher shortages. The second is that new teachers have a greater variety of tools to network and show off their skills to potential employers.
It may be a ‘buyer’s market’ right now, but many new teachers still have trouble finding their first job. In this article are many tips and tricks. Successfully implemented, your application should stand out among the piles that cross principals’ desks every semester. So if you’re ready to take your application to the next level, let’s get started.
Even in the 21st century, substitute teaching still goes a long way to help aspiring teachers network and land their first jobs. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your substitute teaching experience:
Only take substitute positions at the grade level band(s) that you are certified to teach.
Substitute teaching outside your subject area is fine, and I encourage it. It will expose you to different curricula and what students experience throughout their day.
Creating good daily habits will help in the long run.
- Before leaving in the morning, check the school’s website to learn bell schedules and/or special events that may occur that day (e.g. pep rallies).
- Arrive early and dress professionally.
- Follow the teacher’s directions to the letter.
- If possible, socialize with other teachers during lunch. If you substitute for an extended period, these teachers may put in a good word for you when a full-time position opens. One way to curry favor with teachers is to ask them if you can be of assistance during your planning period, for instance, “does anyone need me to make copies for them next period? I’m free.”
- At the end of the day, write the absent teacher a comprehensive note explaining what each class was able to achieve, disciplinary issues, and miscellaneous information you feel is important. Leaving these detailed notes will impress teachers, giving you a positive reputation around the school. Even if a full-time position does not open right away, you will have more work as a substitute to keep you busy.
In the summer of 2014, I took Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) training from one of the best APUSH teachers in the country. One of the things she said that I will never forget is, “Every history teacher is a dime a dozen. You don’t think I’m replaceable at my school?”
It’s true; teachers are a dime a dozen. If you hope to one day teach Shakespeare or the Civil War, you need to broaden your horizons. Your first step is to earn endorsements in both of these subjects. Principals love teachers who are flexible. Through electives, endorsements show that you can fill a variety of roles when the need arises.
On the other hand, if your goal is to teach in a subject area with a higher than average teacher shortage, you shouldn’t assume that your job hunt will be all that difficult. Cover your bases anyway!
Can too many endorsements be a bad thing? It depends. In my experience, principals who interviewed me were confused as to why I had a biology endorsement but aspired to teach history. Maybe this threw them for a loop, and they viewed me as someone who was ‘throwing everything at the wall to see what would stick.’ Keep your endorsements related to the primary subject that you hope to teach.
Tutoring comes in many forms, but one avenue that can help new teachers further their careers is tutoring at test-prep companies. From The Princeton Review to Kaplan, tutors prepare students of all ages for standardized tests. Before working with students, tutors receive specialized instruction in tutoring best practices. As a professional tutor at one of the big name companies, you have a distinct advantage in landing your first teaching job.
“But Thomas,” you exclaim. “Teaching isn’t about test-prep. That’s what’s harming education!”
I agree, but schools across the country struggle with their students’ standardized test scores. Principals seek teachers who can help students test well without turning their classrooms into ‘test-prep factories.’ With the skills of a teacher in one hand and those a professional tutor in the other, you can offer principals the best of both worlds. This balance will make you invaluable.
The path to becoming a teacher is different for everyone, and you may discover that even with the advice in this article, it will take a little luck for you to find your first teaching position. So good luck, aspiring teachers. I’m rooting for you.
As a high school English and social studies teacher, Thomas Broderick developed a test prep course that helped his students earn over $500,000 in college scholarships. Now a freelance writer and consultant in the education field, he is happy to share his wisdom with students and teachers. You can contact Thomas through his website.