A couple months ago I came across this website and spent hours looking at old threads and asking questions. This is a compilation of what worked for me. I have added links where I could, and have given credit where I can, but it is impossible for me to remember everyone who helped. I am taking the time to write this in honor of everyone who helped me, both named and unnamed, and to help others who are feeling hopeless. 1. Cover Letter help: http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=22779&highlight=adam+waxler+cover+letter Adam Waxler recommended this link by Jimmy Sweeny http://www.teacherinterviewtips.com/...ver_letter.pdf for an interesting twist on cover letters. It basically points us to the fact that a cover letter is what gets you noticed among the piles of applications school districts receive. It must work, because after I made the changes to my cover letter, I got 5 interviews out of 7 applications I sent out. NO KIDDING! (I just now figured that out and it astounds me!) BEFORE I changed my cover letter, I had the same old boring cover letter that most people use, and I didn’t get a single interview. SO…I wholeheartedly recommend going with the “different” cover letter format. 2. RESUME: I followed Candace Davies format when writing my resume found at http://resumes-for-teachers.com/teacher-resume-examples.htm I kept it at two pages, and also listed 10 references at the bottom of the second page (first time I ever listed so many). Each reference had one line, like this: John Doe, Principal, ABC High School, Anywhere, WI (555)555-5555 Jane Doe, Assistant Principal, DEF Middle School, Somewhere, MN (333)333-3333 I also sent cover letters and resumes to many districts who weren’t soliciting applications at that time, telling them how interested I was in working at their school. Personally, nothing ever came of those schools, but I would recommend it, if for no other reason than it made me feel like I was doing something constructive when there weren’t any jobs opening up. It kept my mind busy and maybe even gave me a little hope. (little ) 3. INTERVIEWING, MY NEXT HURDLE… So after 2 and 3 interviews, and no responses, I realized my interviewing was lacking. Looking back, I see I really stunk! I have always been nervous at interviews so that didn’t help anything either! So I bought Adam Waxler’s book Your Guide to Acing ANY Teacher Interview, found at http://store.atozteacherstuff.com/download-now/eteach_interviewtips.html ($12.95) This is the first time I have ever bought an e-book! I usually don’t do things like that. BUT…even though a lot of the advice is obvious, it gave me plenty of new ideas, and helped me to dig deeper. A couple more ideas: KEEP TALKING! Don’t just give short answers. When they ask a question, answer as many questions as you can with that one question. Branch off and add things that they need to know about you wherever you can squeeze it in. (My brother applied for ONE job this year, in an AWESOME district, just minutes from the Minneapolis/St.Paul area, and got the job. I was very jealous.) My brother left that interview thinking that he talked way too much. His words were, “I left the interview feeling like a blubbering idiot.” Use EXAMPLES, EXAMPLES, EXAMPLES. Give stories. Don’t answer questions like this: “I would do this, or I would do that…” say this: “This reminds me of one student I had who…” OR “One of my favorite lessons was a unit on…” Use student teaching experience. If you have absolutely no experience you will have to hypothesize, but I would still dig for examples in whatever form you can. MY BIGGEST MISTAKE IN EARLY INTERVIEWS: I didn’t bring student examples, or examples of lesson plans I designed. Somewhere in previous threads, I read some advice from someone who said they brought in “mini-portfolios.” Seemed like a great idea to me, since putting together a large portfolio would be too time consuming at this point! So I took her/his advice and bought at Walmart, Avery Classic Presentation Book #47671. It is white with 12 pockets (so 24 pages including front and back.) I made 6 of them, so that each interviewer had their own “portfolio” to look at while I was interviewing. When I left the interview I gave a portfolio to the principal to keep. My portfolio included the following: On the cover: I put my name on the first line, wrote High School English Teacher Applicant on the second, and then the date of the interview on the third line. A few spaces down I put the name of the school with the school’s mascot/logo under that. Then, I put the school’s mission statement under the logo in quotes. It showed that I researched their website and I was able to refer to their mission statement and tell them why I agree with it, and why I feel that I will fit in with their district BECAUSE of their mission statement. Front page: Philosophy Page 2 and 3: Resume Page 4-8: Letters of recommendation Page 9-11: Rubric samples Pages 12-13: example of my school webpage Pages 14-15: example of lesson Pages 16-17: example of test Pages 18-19: example of school newspaper I advised and extra-curricular interest A copy of license. (my page numbers are off…I don’t have it in front of me, but I think that is about it) I didn’t just throw these into the folder. I gave them an introduction off my philosophy. So a sample intro would be like this: “When parents and teachers work together to support and encourage a student, excellent progress is made. I make strong effort to include and update parents concerning their child’s education. Phone calls, emails, face-to-face talks and personal notes are tools I use...” –Last name Philosophy Below are examples of emails sent and received concerning one of my students. I also believe a dedicated web page encourages parental involvement. On the next page you can see an example of my web site at ABC School District. Please feel free to browse that site, or my current CITY NAME site at http://www.cityname.k12.wi.us/~mylastname/ My point in this? To show that my philosophy is more than a glorified statement written to impress them. I have proof of using those ideas in the classroom. STILL MORE… So I brought the portfolios to the next couple interviews, but still didn’t get the jobs. I decided to go a step further for my next (and subsequently LAST) interview, and I got one more of those Avery folders and filled it with assignments, tests, and lessons. I was able to refer to this so many times during my last interview, it helped me SO much! Instead of saying this and that, I would say “I used that concept in a unit I wrote for teaching creative writing. You can see it here…” (and while they are looking at it, I explained the lesson and how it worked, etc.) I only brought one of those “lesson” folders, but I also let the school keep that after I left. So they had two presentation books after I left: A mini-portfolio and a portfolio full of lessons and a couple tests. I was still nervous, but much less since I had so many examples to look through. Plus, each interviewer had a portfolio, and I had it filled with my “strengths,” so occasionally someone would ask me to go into further explanation about something in the portfolio. Well I was well-equipped and prepared to answer those questions! Lastly, the week before my last interview I typed out a page long, small-font answer to the question: Why should we hire you? I had 3-4 main points and wrote a long paragraph or two for each point. These points were basically the reasons I felt that I deserved the position over other applicants. If you want the job, you have to believe that you are the best candidate for them, and know why. So after typing up the page, I read it over a thousand times. This way, I was able to feel confident that I wouldn’t leave anything out at the interview. During the interview, I was able to draw on that statement to answer several questions. And I wasn’t afraid to repeat myself. Saying things like, “Again, I really feel that my experience with this…” or “I mentioned earlier about my passion for this….and it applies here as well…..” and talk talk talk…examples examples examples. One more thing I should mention…and it’s not something I am too happy about. My brother, like I said, has no problem getting jobs. This year he applied for one teaching job and got it. Last year he turned DOWN a job, (that I wanted…we are certified in the same area), and the year before, (his first year teaching) he was offered TWO jobs. What does he have that I don’t? Coaching experience! SO…I have enrolled in a coaching course entitled Coaching Principals through nationally recognized ASEP. http://www.asep.com My last interview was also the ONLY interview where I wrote in my resume and portfolio the fact that I was interested in beginning coaching. Honestly, I am more the newspaper/yearbook type, but I am stretching out to meet the needs of schools. I want to be an asset. I want to be involved with students outside the classroom to build relationships. And I want a job. I hope they hired me for my excellent teaching abilities, but the fact that I am “interested” in coaching may have helped things a bit. I’d also like to mention that Mrs. Bran recommended an excellent book, Teaching Outside the Box, which I used ideas from during my interviews. (a MUST READ for new teachers) Also, many thanks to Alice who has been extremely resourceful and encouraging to me. Thanks to cutNglue, pwhatley, Research Parent, teresaglass, and there is surely more. I hope this post is encouraging to others who are feeling hopeless. I was there! Keep your chin up. And like Maithal told me, “know that ‘everything works out in the end’ even if things do not turn out like we expected them to.” I didn't get my first choice in a job, and my family and I need to move, but I am grateful. Thanks for the encouragement Maithal!