We’re told there’s a teacher shortage, which means schools are actively looking for candidates. But remember, regardless of whether you’re a new teacher or a veteran, you aren’t just looking for the school that wants to interview you—you’re also looking to interview the school.
Before you send an email or click submit on EdJoin, get to know the school, the area, and a little about the personnel. Predict what you’ll be asked in an interview. And put your best foot forward by sharing a digital résumé and portfolio that shows you’re an educator who knows how to prepare students in this digital world.
Learn About the Schools Where You’re Applying
Before you apply, it’s vital to consider what you are looking for in a school. Think about the following questions:
- What’s the turnover rate of staff? A high turnover rate may or may not dissuade you. Some teachers are looking for their forever school, while others are instead looking for a variety of experiences and might not anticipate staying longer than a handful of years at a site.
- What kind of professional development and support do they offer? You might find this out by following a school, district, or system on social media (Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook). Is their professional development focused on keeping faculty current with tools, curricula, and ideologies?
- What kind of philosophy does the school or organization embrace? Is it a site based in project-based learning, for example? Does the school follow a philosophy or a mission statement you can get behind? Is there a dedication to 21st-century learning strategies? What is the quality of the curriculum they have adopted?
- What is the personality of the school and its facilities? If you can tour the school ahead of time, what’s the staff lounge like? Are the office staff, the first people a visitor meets, indicative of a place that’s welcoming to all stakeholders?
Predict What They’ll Ask You
There tends to be repetition to the questions that all interviews ask, and the challenge can be in how to prepare a unique response that includes your expertise and personality. This takes preparation and thinking ahead.
Some questions (or versions thereof) you’ll likely be asked:
- What are your strengths as an educator? Have concrete examples of how your strengths brought results.
- What are your weaknesses as an educator? This one’s tricky, but necessary. They want to know that you’re reflective and have a growth mindset. Find a way to spin a weakness into a goal for your own growth.
- How would you handle a student who...? This question can take a couple of forms. Maybe they will ask about a classroom management scenario, like a defiant student or a kid overtaken by malaise.
- How would you respond to a parent who...? A scenario question about how you communicate with parents and guardians. Be open to reaching out in a variety of ways to ensure that people have been contacted effectively.
- How do you accommodate your content to meet the needs of...? This question is at the heart of education. What are your experiences or ideas in helping English language learners? What about students in the special education population? And more advanced or gifted students?
Don’t forget to bring some questions of your own. Do some research about the school or district or organization and ask concrete, specific questions that show you’ve done your homework.
Create a Digital Portfolio
One of the best ways to help you pitch yourself as an educator and to leave an impression is to create an digital portfolio and résumé that goes beyond the basic business card.
A digital portfolio can be a simple website used just for this purpose. I’m a Weebly fan, though the new Google Sites isn’t too bad either. Have it password locked so that it can’t be accessed by just anyone. Just give the password to potential employers.
There are many different pages you can create that showcase the real you. A few key pages to include:
- Home page. This will have your contact information, mission statement, and a photo of you, perhaps a couple also of you working with students in a classroom or at a school event.
- Résumé. You can also make your résumé more three-dimensional by including links to the schools or organizations for which you’ve worked.
- Your practice in action. Share images or a video of yourself teaching your favorite lesson. Include student work with captions to explain the goals of the lesson or the process involved.
- Recommendations. Include links or PDFs of recommendation letters or evaluations you’ve collected.