This post originally appeared on the blog Glitter and Glue 4 K-2.
As soon as I graduated, I started applying for jobs online. I would fill out the application on the school’s website and wait to hear back from the school. I soon became discouraged because I didn’t get a single response for even an interview. Luckily, I was offered an assistantship to get my Master’s Degree and was able to put the job search off for another year. I was so blessed to get this opportunity for so many reasons! I was extremely fortunate because my assistantship gave me the opportunity to connect with some amazing teachers, professors, and future teachers who showed me that I was applying for jobs all wrong! I’m going to share my biggest mistakes as I applied for jobs and give you some tips to stand out in your interview process!
*Please note, I’m sharing what worked for me in my job search
1. Of course you need to…
Be sure to do the obvious… create a resume, write a basic cover letter that you can easily tweak as you apply to schools, type up your references with all of their info in one place, get your letters of recommendations together. If you don’t have letters of recommendation, be sure to ask for them now! Don’t forget to get permission from your references to use them, too! Spend the extra money and buy some resume paper! Print your resume, references, and cover letters on this paper! I know it can get expensive but it’s worth it!
2. Set yourself apart and get the interview!
When I applied for jobs, my first mistake was just applying online and waiting around. I look back and I realize what a silly mistake that was! In order to even get an interview, administrators want to see that you are dedicated and willing to go that extra mile! If the expectation is to fill out the online application, then you need to do that and go above and beyond! Email the administrators directly to reiterate your interest, go in to the school and personally drop off your resume, send brochures or something extra with your resume (see below), and let administrators get to know you! Check out the brochure I created below! Sorry I wasn’t able to make this an editable template. Don’t worry though. You can find a template in Microsoft Word that you can edit. Some things I included on my brochure were: photos of me teaching, why I became a teacher, career experience, relevant skills and training, my contact information, the degrees and certificates I obtained, and references. This was a fun way to go over some points on my resume and show my personality, too!
Don’t worry: You’re not being pushy. You’re setting yourself apart from everyone who is just applying! The point is, you need to do more than just fill out the application to make yourself stand out! Be unique and show your personality!
3. Once you’ve got your interview, it’s time to get ready!
When I started applying for jobs, I was told by several people to not even bother putting together a portfolio. I was told that administrators don’t even bother looking at them. Um…. wrong! Of course, the people you are interviewing with won’t take the time to sit there and look at every page in your portfolio. It’s up to you to put meaningful items in your teaching portfolio that you can easily talk about. Don’t just try to fill pages in your portfolio. Include items that administrators want to see. Do your research and look up commonly-asked interview questions for the grade level or area that you specialize in. As an intervention specialist, I knew I would be asked about writing IEPs. I made sure to include an IEP I had written in my portfolio. (If you plan to do this too, be sure to delete or hide ALL confidential information. That includes: school districts, names, addresses, and more.)
I can tell you that at every interview, I was almost always asked about these topics: classroom management, lesson planning, professional development, and communication with parents. Since these topics are so important to teaching and so commonly asked about, I made sure to include information about each one in my portfolio! As your interviewers ask you about these topics, open up your portfolio to these pages! It is a great visual for administrators and it makes it easier for you to discuss each topic. Not to mention, it shows you are prepared, creative, and willing to put in the extra work! For example, imagine you are asked, “What does a typical lesson look like?” You can show the administrator a typed-out lesson plan (complete with objectives, assessments, and all that good stuff!) along with photos and student work samples. Even if you’re not in a teaching position, be sure to start collecting these things now from your student teaching!
If you are looking for some ideas of things to include in a portfolio, some options are: copies of your resume, copies of your references, letters of recommendation, communication with parents, lesson plans, student work samples, classroom management information, a sample IEP, professional development certificates, Praxis or testing scores, college transcripts, evaluations and observations, resources you have created, a copy of you teaching license, a disc or QR Code with a link to a video of you teaching a lesson. One thing I have commonly notified in many teaching portfolios is a nicely typed-out paper on the individuals’ educational philosophy. Although this is great information, I can tell you that your interviewer will not likely sit there and read your entire paper. It’s best just to know this information and work it in to your talking points as you interview. I would recommend saving this space for something else. Obviously, what you put in your portfolio will change depending on your specialty. Be sure to do your research and carefully select what you put in your portfolio!
4. Organize that portfolio!
|Table of contents I used in my portfolio|
|Get this letter free!|
Below are some pages I included in my teaching portfolio. I hope they can give you some inspiration! Whatever you do, make it yours! I like to create things digitally so that’s how mine turned out. Looking back, it’s not the most beautifully done but it showed employers that I can create things digitally and am (somewhat) tech savvy. Maybe you’re a big scrapbooker? Make your portfolio scrapbookie!… I know that’s not a word but you get my point! Make it unique and reflective of your personality!
I was able to give these out or my interviewers could take them.
|Sample lesson plan|
Photos from a lesson
A student work sample.
|My portfolio cover|
5. Don’t forget to follow up…
You can do it!
Well, I hope these resources and the information will help you in your job search. If I can leave you with one more piece of advice… Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get an interview, job offer, or exactly what you are looking for right away! Just keep trying and continue to better yourself as a teacher! I can tell you from personal experience that it is not easy but all of your hard work will pay off. Soon you will be doing what you love!
Whitney is an intervention specialist for kindergarten and first grade students. She has a passion for working with children with special needs and designing specific and target interventions for them. In her spare time, she enjoys taking barre/pilates classes, creating teaching resources and classroom decor, hiking, and the occasional Netflix binge. To get some of her favorite classroom resources and freebies, be sure to check out her Teachers Pay Teachers shop. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and her blog to keep up with some of her favorite classroom tips and resources. Whitney just completed her fourth year of teaching and is getting married in a few weeks. She is excited to begin her next journey as a wife.