Last week I highlighted some basic elements for resumes and interviews as one pursues a teaching career. This week I will drill down a bit into some specific knowledge and skills districts seek as they look to hire the very best teachers.
1. Infusion of Technology Into Teaching and Learning: Just because teacher candidates have an iPhone and know how to send text messages as well as navigate Facebook, doesn’t prove they know how to thoughtfully incorporate technology into the classroom. Teachers are expected to have these skills or at least be excited to learn these skills. They need to be prepared for classrooms where connectedness and instant content is made easily available through technology. With students able to quickly find rich content from their own smart phones or district provided tablets, teachers need to embrace a different role and function as they assist students in making “context out of content” as opposed to being the “sage on the stage” which most likely was the model they experienced in their own education. “Project based learning” and “flipped classrooms” are but two examples of changing instruction by infusing technology to make learning more relevant.
Tip: Resumes should reflect multiple examples, if possible, of projects where students have used technology in thoughtful and creative ways to enhance their learning. Incorporating a link to a video or other work samples would be a nice 21st Century touch on a resume.
2. Understanding and Acceptance of Content Standards: Whether or not your state has adopted Common Core, the reality is that all states will have some sort of standard content to be taught and measured. While a new teacher is not expected to know every standard, districts will be looking to hire teachers who embrace standardization and who are not threatened by this reality. Attending to common standards does not mean that every teacher teaches every lesson the same. Rather, teachers may choose different paths using their own creativity, but with an understanding that all students will have acquired information to the same standard of proficiency regardless of the teacher they are assigned.
Tip: Teacher candidates would be well served to become extremely knowledgeable of the standards and to reference in their resumes and interviews how they utilized this knowledge as a student teacher. Districts love candidates who not only accept the reality of some common expectation, but who truly believe in the need to have some common learning for all students, regardless of their background.
3. Data Driven Instruction: Teachers are now expected to examine testing data carefully and to modify instruction accordingly. In most school districts teachers are provided a rich digital feedback loop, which allows teachers to assess student learning and to monitor and adjust instruction on a constant basis. This feedback loop also allows parents and students to better monitor progress.
Tip: Prospective teachers would be extremely wise to show examples of how they have used data to modify instruction and/or to better meet the needs of specific students. Bringing parents into the circle of knowledge needs to be viewed as a positive element and not a burden.
4. Diverse Students: School districts are eager to hire teachers who have experience (or at least a desire) to work with students of diverse backgrounds and/or special needs, including students of poverty, gifted, culturally diverse, English language learners, and special education students. To the extent that candidates can demonstrate successful experience working with these students, they will have a huge advantage as they seek employment, especially in the public sector.
Tip: Seek out opportunities to work with students of special needs as a volunteer and/or while student teaching. Incorporate this experience into your resume and interview. Acknowledge the positive elements of bringing students of different needs together into a learning, caring and accepting environment.
5. Classroom Management: The single most common reason for teachers to leave the profession, either by their choice or their employer, has to do with issues of classroom management. Teacher candidates would be well served to reference in interviews and on their resume periods of time in which they had full responsibility for successful classroom instruction and management.
Tip: Teacher candidates need to bring forward in their interview and resume to the extent possible their understanding of the interconnectedness of the “three R’s"----rigor, relationships, and relevance as a major factor in classroom control, student engagement and motivation. These three factors are far more significant in terms of classroom management than or any specific or canned management or discipline program.
Next week: Five critical requirements for a winning interview!
Steven Enoch, Career Coach
Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success
Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.