Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Planning Your Career as a Teacher

Clearly, economic conditions are affecting the demand for teachers. In some areas where the population is declining, districts are closing schools, increasing class sizes and paring their rosters. We know from educator supply and demand research (AAEE, Bureau of Labor/Statistics) that tight job markets exist in the Great Lakes and Northeast regions. Generally, job prospects are better in urban and rural areas than in suburban districts. There’s a surplus of elementary classroom, social studies, health and physical education teachers but a higher demand for special education, physics, chemistry, mathematics, bilingual education, and foreign language teachers.

We also know that numerous applicants are unable to win a teaching position because they are reluctant to search beyond the 50-mile radius of their home, university or college. Linda Kent Davis, director of Rhode Island College’s Career Development Center, asks students this question to help them consider their future: “Is my career goal to teach? Or is it to teach in Rhode Island? Because those are very different questions.” If you can’t leave your home, you’ll need to work harder to get your foot inside the door. Keep your doors open!

First Steps
Here are six actions you can take to increase your opportunity to win a teaching position when you graduate:


1. CAREER OBJECTIVE
Identify your career objective – your dream job – teaching position, type of school/non-school organization, and geographic location.
Early in your college program, meet with your advisor and/or a career counselor. Begin by “mapping” your projected career path and what it will take to achieve success. Meet with your advisor(s) to plot out your college program and teacher education curriculum. Discuss the positions and types of schools, positions, and regions where you would like to teach when you graduate from your college or university.
-What does “achieving success” mean to you?
-What teaching position are you aiming for? Do you want to teach in a public, independent, religious education, and other non-school teaching position (e.g., out of school or after-school program, private tutor, personal trainer)? If so where?
-Can you teach in another part of the country or abroad for a year or two?

2. EDUCATOR SUPPLY AND DEMAND
Learn about the educator supply and demand in different education fields and geographic regions. See AAEE Job Search Handbook for Educators and Bureau of Labor/Statistics Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook.


3. ONLINE TEACHER RECRUITMENT SITE
Create a profile at an online teacher recruitment site such as SchoolSpring.com. Check out job postings. Learn about the types of posted jobs, job qualifications, and geographic location. Learn about certification requirements in other states.


4. RESUME
Develop a draft teaching job resume today. Self-assess: What are your strengths? Gaps in knowledge, skills experience? What experiences can you add? Update your resume every semester. (See “Compose a Resume and Cover Letter” in my book The Guide to Winning a Teaching Position in Any Job Market).


5. TEACHING JOB SEARCH
Learn about the teaching job search and hiring process. Read my book, The Guide to Winning a Teaching Position in Any Job Market and my blog: http://www.winateachingjob.com. Learn to interview, create job application materials, and apply online. Make appointments with a counselor in your career center to fine-tune application materials.


6. NETWORK
Consider every interaction with professional educators in your field placements as an interview. Principals/teachers know principals/teachers who are looking to hire highly qualified job applicants. Get to know your clinical instructor and other school personnel. Dress professionally. Smile a lot. Send thank you letters to your clinical instructor.


Develop "The Unique Factor" During Your Teacher Education Program

Develop knowledge, skills, and experiences beyond the required teacher education courses. Add to your resume. Employers will notice your dedication, hard-work, and constant learning. You can distinguish yourself from other job applicants by adding knowledge, skills, and experience during the academic year and summer. Consider these eight opportunities:

A. ENDORSEMENTS AND CERTIFICATION IN OTHER STATES
Add endorsements to your teacher education program. Expand your job opportunities for “higher demand” teaching positions. Know requirements for certification in other states.


B. TEMPORARY WORK
Work as a teacher assistant, camp counselor, and/or substitute teacher.


C. COMMUNITY SERVICE
Volunteer in a classroom, tutor students and/or work in after-school programs in communities where you hope to teach. Serve as a coach of a youth sport.


D. LEADERSHIP
Practice motivating and leading others. Become an active member and/or officer in education-related student organizations.


E. CONFERENCES
Attend education conferences and workshops related to diversity, differentiated instruction, English Language Learners, Common Core standards and assessment, classroom management, and instructional technology.


F. NEW SKILLS
Develop proficiency in education-related skills (e.g., second language, instructional technology). Improve your ability to speak to adult audiences. Take public speaking courses.


G. CAREER FAIRS
Attend education job fairs. Visit your career center to learn more about job fairs in the region.


H. STUDY ABROAD
Enroll in study abroad programs for personal growth and new perspectives. Study Abroad and National Student Exchange are great opportunities to learn AND earn credit towards your degree and "see the world" at the same time.