Got a job! This is what worked for me…

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by Joymusik, Jul 3, 2007.

  1. Joymusik

    Joymusik Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2007

    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!
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2007
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  3. Miss L

    Miss L Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2007

    Congrats on the job, that's AWESOME news! You have NO idea how inspiring and useful this is to me! I too, am starting to send out my resume and cover letter with those 'new' formats. It just makes sense, doesn't it? Funny we didn't seem to think of those things before...

    Good luck with teaching this year! :)
     
  4. willsgirl

    willsgirl Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2007

    Wow, Joy! Thx so much for the summary. I, too, have spent a lot of time reading through the various posts and have pretty much come up with the same recurring themes as you have. I just haven't had time to synthesize it yet. Good for you! So glad all of these strategies worked out. I had never thought of the mini portfolios until I read about them on this forum. IT makes so much sense. Also, the coaching thing. I know I have been turned down in the past for at least two dream jobs because of my lack of coaching experience. I, too, am secondary English, and it seems weird that coaching will get you a job when expertise in a core subject does not, but, whatever. I will check out the site you linked when I'm done with this. I like sports, just never thought I could coach...

    Ooops! Sorry about the little hijack. Anyway, thx again and good luck. You have been very helpful and encouraging.

    PS I'm printing this out for future reference.
     
  5. S Dubb

    S Dubb Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2007

    Congratulations, and thanks for writing all of this!
     
  6. Sunnyrae

    Sunnyrae Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2007

    Thank you Joy! Your awesome post here will sincerely help hundreds!!
     
  7. Pixiewannabe

    Pixiewannabe Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2007

    First ~ Congrats on the Job
    Second ~ Joy this is a wonderful post. All the info in one spot, just wonderful.
     
  8. vsimpkins

    vsimpkins Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2007

    This is such a great amount of information for any of us hanging in there. I will cherish this for future interviews. I haven't had any yet, I think it is because of the number of years experience and the number of units I have. Still mailing out applications and praying. Thanks again. Best of Luck and Happiness on your new job.
     
  9. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

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    Jul 3, 2007

    joymusik, it sounds like you have your stuff together! :) Did you get a job in the same grade you student taught in? I'm sorry if I missed it, but I couldn't tell if you had teaching experience after student teaching or not. If your teaching experience (student or professional) is different from the grade you were hired for... did you use examples of lessons you really used or hypothetical stuff you WOULD use?

    THANKS!

    P.S. I have an interview for 3rd on Thursday (I just got called for it today!) and I want to do a portfolio like you did to leave behind - but I currently teach 8th and student taught 1st. Would you do a real lesson from 1st or a made-up lesson for 3rd?
     
  10. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 3, 2007

    Congratulations, Joy. What a wonderful set of resources you have posted here. Very inspiring. All job seekers should read it, go to the links, and use the info and examples.
     
  11. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Jul 3, 2007

    Wow, Joy - great ideas and great motivation for me to keep going and really change up what I have been doing...
    I am going to print this out and use your ideas and hopefully find my dream job!
     
  12. Lovetoteachkids

    Lovetoteachkids Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2007

    Congratulations! I use that same resume formate and I love it!
     
  13. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Jul 3, 2007

    Congratulations!!! I have been straddling the fence, debating if I want another job, and I know I do. Thanks for posting awesome info in one spot!!!

    Another key issue is to remember you should always keep a 'layoff kit' ready. Keep the dust off your resume, keep samples of work, (as you found out), references, and update your education/workshop portfolio too.

    If we are not voluntarily separated, things happen that cause us to start looking. Not something I really enjoy, but life is what it is, and we all have to eat.

    Have fun celebrating!!
     
  14. Joymusik

    Joymusik Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2007

    I had 1 full year of experience teaching 7th grade English and 1/2 year teaching 9th-12th grade English. The private school I worked at closed, but then I got a long term sub job teaching 7th grade English for 2nd semester. To answer your question: I would still show samples of what you used in first grade, but I would try to show some new, "fresh" samples of what you would use for 3rd grade. For my mini-portfolio, I actually made up a few new assignments for creative writing, which took some extra time, but it was well worth it. I tried to show them that I could teach what they needed in an effective way. I also kept some middle school examples that I really used, which I felt showed that I was flexible and able to meet the needs of various ages and abilities.

    Good luck! :)
     
  15. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

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    Thanks for the input! I think we're thinking on the same lines. :D Congrats again!
     
  16. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Jul 4, 2007

    Several interviewing supervisors have asked me to write up an entire week's lesson plan on the spot! This is for pre-school but still, you really have to be fast and think on you feet!
     
  17. Maithal

    Maithal Cohort

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    Jul 4, 2007

    Hi Joymusik! Congratulations! You have a lot to be proud of!!!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing all this info. It was so sweet of you to credit me for the encouraging words. How kind of you! :) I've been wondering how you are doing and whether you got hired yet.

    I still haven't gotten hired yet, but I've been trying to be a bit more proactive (although I felt I already was) by US mailing my cover letter and resume directly to the principals of my top choice district...will do others later.

    Again, thanks so much for sharing such great tips and for crediting me in this post. As I continue to job search, I too have to keep telling myself...“know that ‘everything works out in the end’ even if things do not turn out like we expected them to.”

    Now, go out and celebrate! You deserve it BIG time! :) :) :)
     
  18. montgm

    montgm Rookie

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    what was your letter like for why should we hire you? Where did you get a job?
     
  19. teach57

    teach57 Comrade

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    Jul 4, 2007

    This is an amazing resource you gave to us. You are a great inspiration to the rest of us! Congratulations on your position and good luck!!!
     
  20. Sub2Teach

    Sub2Teach Companion

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    Jul 5, 2007

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!! You definitely deserve this teaching position. It shows you have a lot of heart and that will serve you well in the classroom because you really want to teach and help children.

    As someone who has felt like this job search is frustrating and depressing at times, your post gave me new hope that I have to keep trying no matter what because one day it will hopefully pay off.

    Thanks so much for all the great tips, it was very helpful!!!!! Like someone else mentioned, I think i will print this page out as a reference. Thanks for all the ideas.

    Your an inspiration, congratulations again you earned it and you should feel so proud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  21. jillsciencegirl

    jillsciencegirl Rookie

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    Jul 5, 2007

    congrats! Great info!
     
  22. daddy'sgirl

    daddy'sgirl Rookie

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    Jul 5, 2007

    Joy,
    Congratulations on your new job and God bless you for taking the time to put all of this great information in one spot for those of us who are still searching. Thank you so very much!
     
  23. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    JoyMusik:

    Congratulations and Bravo! for a job exceptionally well done! I am so happy for you! And thank you for crediting me -- that took me completely by surprise! :) I, too am printing out your wonderful post - it is comprehensive and well written! Now, if only I could get an interview.....
     

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