If you are facing the prospect of not being employed as a full-time teacher this fall, you should consider what alternatives you have to stay involved in education throughout the 2009-2010 academic year to improve your chances of landing a teaching job in the future.
Substitute teaching is probably the most obvious alternative. School administrators often regard subbing as a job audition. If you are able to prove to administrators that you can handle the tough job of being a substitute teacher, you are showing them your talents rather than just providing a resume and an application. Some teacher candidates are concerned, however, that a school district will want to keep a talented substitute teacher as a sub and will pass them up to hire other candidates for full-time positions. If you prove that you are an outstanding teacher, smart administrators will want to employ you full-time when they get the opportunity rather than take a chance that you will leave their district for another job elsewhere. If that becomes the case, they lose you as a substitute teacher and as a full-time teacher.
Unfortunately, some teacher candidates do just an adequate job (or worse) as a sub. Since many schools need substitute teachers, if you show that you are a mediocre sub, you may still be called for daily sub assignments because someone has to be in the classroom, but the district will find better candidates for full-time vacancies. If you choose to sub, take each assignment as a professional challenge to showcase your teaching talents.
There may be para-professional jobs available for you such as being a teacher’s aide. If you choose this route, work closely with the teacher or teachers you are assigned to demonstrating your professional capabilities. Don’t try to upstage the teachers or to usurp their authority. First gain their trust and respect and then look for opportunities to excel in the classroom with the welfare of your students being your highest priority.
Other options for you may be coaching, getting involved with extracurricular activities such as a school play, tutoring (either in the schools or in private firms such as Sylvan Learning Centers), or working for an online cyber school, an early childhood center, or an organization that runs programs for children such as a YMCA. You may find employment at a community college or pursue a graduate assistantship related to education if you choose to seek a master’s degree. If you do choose a graduate degree program, consider one that will earn you additional certifications making you more marketable in future job searches. Graduate classes also provide excellent networking opportunities with professors and with other students who may be employed as teachers.
If teaching is your passion, you need to stay involved in education somehow even though there may be higher paying jobs available outside of education. If you are not involved in education, you risk losing touch with teachers and administrators in the field who may serve as references, and you may have a hard time staying current with issues in education. A few years outside of education will be difficult to explain to administrators who will ask, “Why should I hire you when there are other candidates who have current, related experience in education?”
Stay involved in the field of education and gain additional experience, refine your teaching skills, and expand your professional network. Most likely, your efforts will pay off in a teaching job eventually.
--John F. Snyder,
Co-Director of Career Services,
Slippery Rock University of PA
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.