Applying and obtaining a teaching position can be kind of hectic. You may not know where to begin or is unsure if you’ll ever get a job. I mean, just one of the hurdles (testing) is costing people hundreds even thousands of dollars just to take and then you have to pay an additional $75 just to apply for your Statement of Eligibility (at least here in Florida you do) and that can be a burden financially. Not to mention the study guides you have to buy, the tutoring sessions you have to invest in, it can be very costly. However, it is very much worth it if teaching is what you truly want to do. To help give you at least some type of direction, I decided to compile a list of tips that’s helped me get a teaching position. Keep in mind that I went to school for teaching so I’m considered in-field. I’m not entirely sure how the process is for people who are out of field, so if you’re changing careers, this still may help you a bit but it won’t be tailored to your situation.
These tips are not in any particular order but these are the different things that I’ve done to get a job:
- Buy a quality test study guide. This one is key because I made one big mistake in buying a book that was not good. Ironically it was for the English 6-12 test that I tried to pass. I failed two times before I bought the NavaEd brand of study guide. Once I started to study that book, I passed the test. I spent over $400 on taking that test. Having a great study guide will save you money. In my opinion, NavaEd and Cliffnotes are two brands that I trust with study guides for the FTCE (Florida Teacher Certification Exam). I used Cliffnotes for my Professional Ed exam and passed. I also used that brand for the Elementary K-6 Exam but only passed two of the four sections but I know for others it worked for them. It also helped that I have recently taken the classes (classroom management and a assessment class) for the ProEd exam so that helped as well because the material was fresh on my mind.
- Get as much experience as you can. Before I got into the teaching program at my school, I made a plan to expose myself to the classroom as much as I could. After I started school, I applied to work as a paraprofessional (teacher’s aide). I applied everywhere: at high schools, middle schools, elementary, special schools, like I applied everywhere. I applied every single day for hours and hours and went on countless interviews. Finally I got a job as a para for a high school in a self-contained ESE class. After I graduated, I worked as a Substitute and a After School Care Teacher. I believe all of that exposure, including the expose in my program from the practicums we did helped me to gain skills and gave me lots of experience dealing in different settings. Trust me, gain all the experience you can!
- Go to job fairs. I went to one job fair honestly when I was in grad school at my school. They were having an educational job fair with jobs from districts across the state and some from other states as well. Job fairs are great because you can get exposure to what’s offered elsewhere. I wanted to move to Orlando so my main target district to go to were Orlando and Osceola county. I took five resumes with me (which be prepared to dress professionally) but you may want to bring more with you. Once I spoke with Orange county, I walked around and gave my resume to other districts like in Seminole county, a charter school in Jacksonville, a district in North Carolina, and a district in Bay county. They sometimes give you interviews and some have even been offered jobs on the spot. Orange county gave me a conditional hire (meaning I had to go down to one of their local job fairs and apply with a school). Job fairs are great opportunities to get a position.
- Research the school or district you’re interested in. This was a biggie to me because I wanted to be in a district that would have lots to offer me like pay and I wanted to be in a bigger district. Look up the schools that you’re interested in. This is huge because when my last district called me for an interview, I took the first job offer because I thought another opportunity would come across my way (I was wrong with that thought) but when I looked up the school to see the grades, reputation, and reviews, I was a bit bummed out. But since I told them I’d accept the position first, thats the school I went with which was a pretty big mistake in my opinion. In both cases I had phone interviews for the district and both schools wanted me. When I went in for my interview for the school I currently work at, I was already familiar with the way the school was ran because I used to work for the company (it’s a charter school) in Tallahassee as an After School Teacher and Sub. Since I knew somewhat how the school ran, I was familiar and comfortable with my choice. Google the district and school. Consider living expenses as well.
- Brag about your experience during interviews. Show that you’re willing to learn and work on a team. Talk about ALL your experience, even the ones not in the classroom. For example, I was a supervisor at CFA (Chick-fil-A) and so I put that on my resume and actually talked about it in my interview. It showed that I can manage a class because I had to manage my employees and it showed that I had leadership experience. It would also help if you came with recommendation letters. This could help you in your interview as well. If your resume needs a facelift, go to your career center (if you’re in school like I did) or simply google “teacher resumes”. Also, see if your school will hold any mock interviews. That can help you prepare for interviews as well.
- During your internship and practicums, give your all. Give it your all when you’re in the classroom even if you’re not hired. Trust me. You want to make a good impression on the principal, supervising teacher, or whomever. Be professional. Be willing to help the classroom teacher in anyway that you can. She (or he) can be a great reference for you in the future and you never know, they may have a position open in the future or may even have connections within the district. Be kind to everyone you come across and try not to be on your phone all the time. Do whatever you can to put your best foot forward. It can mean a difference between not having a job and getting hired while you’re still in your program. You may not be getting paid for your experience but trust when I say it will make all the difference in the world when you give your all to something you’re not even getting paid for. Speaking of, some internships won’t pay you and you have to be in the classroom all day so please plan accordingly.
- Buy your supplies early on. This may not have to do with obtaining a job but once you get one, it will give you a nice start. Teachers don’t get paid much and a lot of the materials we have in our class are paid for out of pocket. If it is at all possible, start building your class supplies as soon as possible. Trust me on this!
- Learn all you can before getting in the classroom. I follow so many teachers on Instagram and Facebook and even have bought some professional development books way before I was hired for my position. I follow people like Gerry Brooks, Get Your Teach On, The Lettered Classroom…on and on. I subscribed to teachers on YouTube and again it’s given me lots of ideas for things to try and its actually helped me reach out to other teachers on social media and make connections with them. You’re not in this alone and it feels great to know that. It takes diligence on your part. One book you should buy like ASAP is The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong. You need it!
- Apply all year long. It’s true. You want to apply all year long. Some great times to apply is in the Spring semester (job fairs are usually held during this time), the summer and mid-year. Lots of teachers quit. Some retire. Some go on maternity leave. Keep applying even if it seems hopeless. Maybe even look into other districts near where you want to work or live. Teachers do get hired mid-year so don’t be discouraged when it seems like you never will get a call for an interview. Also, be open to different schools. A lot of times, they’ll put new teachers in schools that aren’t the greatest so please be aware of that and ask yourself if you’re willing to take the position. New teachers don’t always get the best schools (although there are some that are lucky). Don’t get discouraged if that “A” school didn’t call you for an interview but that “D” OR “F” school did. I’m at a “C” school and thats just fine for me.
I believe those are all the tips that I have for you. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Its an exciting process but it can seem a bit daunting. Just hang in there. Trust and believe that you got this. Don’t worry about being a first year teacher. Be honest in your interviews. Teachers had to get their start sometime.