Education

Career Planning: Think Before You Act

January 01, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

I remember my first job fair. The New York City Board of Education desperately needed special education teachers, and I was one of hundreds waiting to get into a huge high school gym and find that first job. I had a particular school in mind and was supposed to meet a certain person. But the person never showed. In the heat of the moment, I jumped at the first offer I got.

So started my career in education. I was naive, unprepared, and unknowledgeable about the job I had taken. But I was young and (fortunately) loved the profession.

Recently, after twenty-two years in teaching, I completed my certificate of advanced study in educational administration. This time, in looking at career opportunities, I have done my homework and researched my options. Almost every class in my administration degree program had at least one discussion about job-searching and what you needed to do before you accepted a job. Strange, I don’t remember ever having that type of conversation in my teacher-education classes.

Things apparently haven’t changed much. My daughter recently graduated with a teaching degree in history. She spent time on her portfolio, her resume, and her attire. But in all of our conversations, she never indicated that she spent any time on how to look for a job, what to ask, or what sort of compensation she should be looking for.

This is unfortunate. As someone who has seen a lot of teachers come and go, I can tell you: You need to examine what you want in a teaching job and what sort of compensation you need and can command. And be ready to express these things in an interview.

Just because an offer is made doesn’t mean that you have to accept it. Take time to consider what you are accepting. There are a few things you can do to figure whether a position is right for you. First, look at the school’s Web site. Many school and district sites now include substantive information on their goals and performance. Next, try to talk to teachers who work in the school.

Also, be direct about salaries and benefits. This might be a little tricky, since some districts don’t like to talk about such issues during the initial interview. But ask anyway. You are an adult, and deserve to know what your contract would include and whether it will suit you.

Another good option is to call the district teachers’ union. Ask for a copy of the district’s contract and a referral to a teacher you could talk to.

The point is, take time to consider what you want and where you might see yourself ten years from today. Do your homework and be ready to ask questions at a job interview. Stand up for yourself. A portfolio is good to have at an interview, but how you handle yourself and whether you obtain the information you need are more important.

At least know what you want. Getting it is the challenge.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)