Friday, May 27, 2011

Job Search, Applications, and Hiring - A Panel Discussion

Yesterday I facilitated an engaging panel discussion with four school personnel: two human resource directors from two large Rhode Island districts, an elementary school principal from district, and the director of Rhode Island College's Career Development Center.

The panelists began by presenting a rather grim picture for the current teaching job market - locally, regionally, and nationally - for some (not all!) teaching positions. Jobs are hard to find because there is an over supply of qualified job applicants, a downturn of the economy, closing of schools, and elimination of teaching positions. There is less demand for general elementary education, social studies, health and physical education teachers. There is greater demand in high school math and science, early childhood special education, bilingual and ESL-ELL teachers.

However, the panelists offered many excellent strategies for increasing one’s opportunity to win a teaching position in this tight job market.

· Following graduation, while you are applying for full-time teaching positions, "evolve" your teacher candidacy. Continue with your education and develop your expertise - knowledge, skills, and professional competence. Take graduate courses for an additional endorsement, join professional organizations, attend professional conferences and workshops, and develop your skills in instructional technology.

· There is a trend towards online job applications.

· Employers expect a high level of written communication in teaching job applications. Prepare well. Do your homework.

· Research the school and district before applying. Relate your knowledge, skills, and dispositions to the school/district challenges. Communicate how you are an asset to the school/district.

· Work a second job that enables you to substitute teach since there are no benefits in most districts. (Budget time/money so you can substitute teach. Can you live on $75 a day if you’re daily subbing 3-4 times a week?!)

· Substitute teaching is a great way to get your foot in the door, increase your exposure, learn about a school/district initiatives, curriculum, standards, and assessments.

· Demonstrate excellence as a substitute teacher. Leave positive impressions. Go beyond the call of duty. If you perform well, you will be called back and develop a positive reputation!

· Substitute teach in a couple of districts, not five or six. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Accumulate days in one school or district so you will be known well by school personnel.

· Use substitute teaching as a networking opportunity. When you work in a building, introduce yourself to the principal and other school personnel)

· Unfilled teaching positions open up in late June after the district job fairs.

· Remove offensive Facebook postings and/or start over and create a new Facebook page. Parents on the interview committee will Google you.

· Be prepared to ask questions about the school and district during an interview.

· Believe in yourself. Convey confidence.

Breaking News for Recent Graduates and Unemployed Teachers! Due to new hiring policies and educational reform in Providence Public Schools, external applicants can compete for teaching positions. Seniority isn’t the only factor in hiring teachers for vacant positions. 97 positions in four “turn around” schools are currently vacant! If you win a position, you own the position. You cannot get “bumped” if you demonstrate excellence. Providence uses an online, competency-based hiring system that includes written essays, proctored writing sample, interviews with principals of the school where you are applying, and a 15-minute demonstration lesson during the interview. Go to Providence’s Facebook - !/pages/Providence-Schools-Careers/186716331373972?sk=wall