Still job hunting? What sets YOU apart from the pack?

Discussion in 'Job Hunting & Interviews' started by Aliceacc, Jun 20, 2006.

  1. shadowrose45

    shadowrose45 Rookie

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    Jun 21, 2006

    HI

    I replied once, and the computer ate it.

    I think I'd reword the sentense like this:

    "I graduated form OHio State school of Education with a BS in Elementary...and I believe my experience and education would make me a good addition to your...."

    Also, isn't it redundant to say that you meet the highly qualified criteria? Isn't that inherent in getting the degree? May not be in your state, but here, being licensed means you'e highly qualified.
     
  2. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    Jun 21, 2006

    That is also the case here in Mass, but not the case in all states.
     
  3. shadowrose45

    shadowrose45 Rookie

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    Jun 21, 2006

    Hi Sara

    I don't think your letter was bad! Don't let it get you down so much. Is Ohio that hard to find a job in? I'm surprised, as most of the country is crying for teachers.

    I haven't sent any cover letters, I'd made phone calls to the schools and set up interviews. Apparently, that's not the best way?

    I'd think a cover letter would need to make you shine, with the reasons you're a good candidate for them.

    I'm going to write one like this:

    I'm very interested in your position for a Special Education teacher. I hold a BA from the University of Toledo, and am currently enrolled in the MSEd at the University of Phoenix.

    Currently, I am eligible for a conditional license in Special Education, as the classes I've taken this summer meet the highly qualified requirements in the state of Virginia.

    While I was in college, my work-study was at the juvenile detention facility teaching math and science. Many of the children in the detention facility had special needs. This is where i developed my love for teaching.

    Although I'm likely not the most qualified candidate you'll have apply for this position, I'm very eager to work with your school system. I'm continuing my education at the Master's level to ensure that I possess all the skills necessary to be an excellent teacher.

    I've reviewed your school system website, and was impressed with the information you provided regarding special education. The website made it clear that your system is more than willing to meet the challenge of giving an excellent education to children with special needs.

    Thank you in advance for your consideration.

    Sincerely,
    Patricia XXXXXX

    Comments? Bad? Good? By the way, I'm not concerned with any typos, just with the overall sound of the letter.
     
  4. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Jun 21, 2006

    Oh I wish it was that easy! But it's not. Here you have to either take the praxis two or have enough Housse points. I would be applying to 7th and 8th grade math teaching positions if I was HQ in them. I have cert. k to 8th.
     
  5. njeledteacher

    njeledteacher Cohort

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    Should I include something about guided reading? Something like:

    Upon entering first grade mid-year, I assessed students' reading levels, and formed guided reading groups accordingly. Throughout my term, I implemented a balanced literacy program, which involved read-alouds, guided reading, shared reading, and independent reading. It was wonderful to see how much I impacted their reading skills over the course of four months, with a few struggling readers no longer needing intervention resources.
     
  6. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I would say this is EXACTLY what you should include. It's concrete evidence!
     
  7. njeledteacher

    njeledteacher Cohort

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    Thanks!!! Though I'm not sure why I am rewriting it when I already sent out so many applications. Do they really read all of those cover letters? I was just told that one position I applied for had 1,000 applicants....SIGHHHH.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 21, 2006

    I agree. It shows that you know what you're talking about, and that you've had some success. Your resume just says what you did; you've detailed how well you did it.
     
  9. njeledteacher

    njeledteacher Cohort

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    You all are so helpful and encouraging! I'm so glad I found this forum.
     
  10. shadowrose45

    shadowrose45 Rookie

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    Jun 21, 2006

    HI Sara

    hon, don't be embarassed! Sheesh, if we were all perfect, we would be pretty boring I think.

    I'd imagine that people were trying to be helpful, not really critical of your letter.

    Please don't feel that yours was 'wrong'. Anytime you have a collaborative enviornment like this, people are all going to add things that they think of as they read various responses.

    Patty
     
  11. Sarah5483

    Sarah5483 Companion

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    Jun 21, 2006

    Oh Patty, I do not think anyone was trying to be critical of my letter. I was just disappointed (mostly w/myself) that there needed to be so many changes after I had already sent it out all over the place for the past 3-4 months. I truly appreciate everyone's input as it gave me the chance to give my letter another look and rewrite it so that I am happy and comfortable with it.

    Sarah
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    So send them a "remember me?" kind of revamped letter. If there are 1,000 applicants, what do you have to lose???
     
  13. shadowrose45

    shadowrose45 Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2006

    hmm no one liked my letter, huh?
     
  14. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I like the basics of the letter. But maybe the first two paragraphs ca go together? I'm not an expert so I'm not sure. Currently did jump out at me since you used it twice in a row. How old/grade were the children in the JD that you taught math and science to?
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 22, 2006

    Hi Patricia,

    Sorry about that!!

    I think you should say a LOT more about your work with the kids in the juvenile detention area!!

    One of the big concerns in hiring a teacher is classroom management. Albert Einstein himself wouldn't make a good math or science teacher if the room was too out of control for the kids to hear him. I would imagine that your background sets you apart from the pack in this respect; I can't see you being intimidated by the typical child. I know I would be impressed!
    edited to add: How about something along the lines of: While working with these students, I learned a lot about the value of respect. A teacher must set a tone of mutual respect from the very beginning. Once that tone has been set, the teaching can flow.
    I also learned that kids, no matter how troubled, are still kids. They need positive reinforcement and a kind word, just as we all do.





    And, YES, send cover letters!!! Administrators have so many things going on that they need it written down or they just don't remember it. Send a cover letter and resume to any principal/superintendent you can find!

    One more minor point: avoid contractions ("I'm") They are less formal and this is a fairly formal letter.
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 22, 2006

    Some niggles, Frizz: "a lot" is two words, not one, and it's best not to use it twice - or, for that matter, once. (But this IS a rough draft, you said.)

    In your first paragraph, "I've learned a lot from my students" could be combined with "I learned a lot about myself" to introduce the paragraph.

    You use "I know/feel/believe" statements a great deal, and this helps make your first paragraph rather "me"-heavy: try recasting that paragraph to place more emphasis on the classroom, unless you're going to include some specific accomplishments ("I did" statements are fine!) The other thing that bothers me about that paragraph is that it seems to be delicately talking around a train wreck of a year; I don't think you want to give the impression that you struggled quite that much.

    Your second paragraph needs a topic sentence at the beginning that makes a smoother transition from the previous paragraph - something like "My prior work with the developmentally disabled taught me many important lessons for the normal classroom. I have learned... " and then enumerate what you've learned.

    Try it again, okay?
     
  17. aduncan365

    aduncan365 Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2006

    Wow! These cover letters and the critiques are amazing. I am a new teacher with only half a year's supply teaching under my belt. I'm finding the job search difficult.
    Do you think I can make one general cover letter that I can change slightly for each application I e-mail?
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 22, 2006

    Absolutely, aduncan.
     
  19. aduncan365

    aduncan365 Rookie

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    I need help with mine. It's short, peters out like a dud firecracker and I don't think it really shows what I have to offer :(
    Any ideas? Thanks!

    As a recent graduate of Charles Sturt University I am eagerly looking forward to having my own classroom this fall. In addition to my basic qualifications in the primary and junior divisions I intend to complete an additional qualification in special education. My undergraduate background is in biological sciences and mathematics and I anticipate obtaining additional qualifications in these areas in the future. I would also consider taking any further professional training that would be beneficial to the Grade 5 position at the Public School.

    My teaching experience has been diverse and unique: substituting at the First Nations school, and practice teaching assignments in small schools in Australia. These experiences have provided me with opportunities to develop inclusive classroom practices and have inspired me to obtain professional knowledge in the way education can be adapted to meet the needs of all students.

    Substitute teaching has been a great confidence booster for me as a new teacher. With the flexibility and creativity I have gained, I would feel confident in taking on other school related activities such as supervising intramural sports or organizing special interest clubs.

    Thank you blah de blah
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Biological sciences and math? I don't suppose you'd consider teaching middle school or high school in California...

    You could make more of what you did in the First Nations school and in Australia: if there were particular things you accomplished or set in motion in those settings that you're proud of, this is a good place to mention them.
     
  21. aduncan365

    aduncan365 Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2006

    TG thanks so much for your response to my job hunting posts! You are a smart cookie!
    I'm willing to move anywhere to teach! But am not ready to teach high school. Middle school would be wonderful. I'm not sure that my qualifications would be a perfect fit. I've got education training from Australia in K-6 only. My Ontario College of Teacher's cert allows me to legally teach K-12 in Ontario.
    My grandparents clipped an article from a FL newspaper about a teacher shortage and told me I should apply there so I could be closer to them all year round. (insert line from the credit card commercial here: If only life were like that...)
    Not to change the topic of this thread (should I move this post?)

    But.... How would a Canadian with Australian qualifications go about getting a teaching job in the States? There would be heaps of paperwork involved right?
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    There would be some - visas and all that, and I'm the wrong person to ask - but math and science teaching are high need areas. You'd probably need to make a connection with a district first.
     
  23. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Credential requirements vary from state to state. My guess is that your Australian preparation and OTC certification would be well received in California. You would need to have your school transcripts and credential evaluated and apply for a California credential.

    In California, you'll have to pass CBEST and either take a course or pass a test on the United States constitution. Neither should be a problem for you. CBEST is test on basic reading, writing and math competency. The constitution requirement can be taken care of by a few evenings of reading and a 50 question multiple choice test. There may be some other requirements depending on what subject or level you want to teach.

    There might also be some immigration paperwork to do, but with NAFTA, I think it is a lot less than previously.

    Here's the CTC web site if you are considering California.

    FWIW you should have no trouble finding a job in most parts of the U.S.A. with science and math credentials. Districts are looking hard for qualified candidates. I am in a credential program now that is run by a local district in conjuction with a state university. Five of the 21 candidates in my cohort are going for math credentials, and at least 2 are going for science credentials.
     
  24. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    TG- thanks for the constructive criticism. I am going to attack it again. As I said, it was on the spur of the moment... just thought I'd take a shot. TG, it was a bit of a train wreck! I know I can't say it, but there really was nothing positive about the experience, which is why I feel doomed trying to take on the job hunt.
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    A train wreck it may have been, but you don't want to advertise that, at least not before you've established your competence. Try reframing some of your statements as something other than "I" statements - that is, not "I know I perform better in a structured environment" but "Experience has shown me the importance of a structured environment", and the like.
     
  26. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think I would condense that first paragraph a bit. (Is there some reason you're being specific to grade 5?)

    But expand on the second. Give us some particulars. That's where YOU stand out from the pack, so tell us something about it. How were schools in Austraulia different from here? What was the same? Can you share some sort anectdote that makes the point that you were successful? What's the "First Nation School"?? What makes it special? THIS is your chance to shine. Get them interested enough to give you a call!

    What extra curricular would you be interested in? Are there particular sports or clubs that you have a background in? Be specific so they know you're serious!


    I would probably also drop the line about "confidence booster"... it implies that your confidence was lagging. How about substituting the phrase "learning experience"... and tell us how much you learned about alternate approaches to the same material or something.

    It sounds like you have such an interesting background! I hope I've sparked some ideas!
     
  27. Beezus

    Beezus Cohort

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    Help!

    Anyone care to take a look at my cover letter? I am just not happy with it. I think the language is a little stilted, and would like to make it feel a little "warmer" or something.
    What do you all think? How can I add some zip/make it better??

    Thanks SO much for any input you can give!!!!
    Beezus

    Please accept this letter and the enclosed résumé as my application for the intermediate position open at ***** Elementary School.

    I am very interested in a position at your school and believe my aptitudes will benefit your students. I note Reading and Writing Skills have been identified as the school's improvement focus. I am highly qualified in language arts. I have been trained in 6 +1 Writing Traits and have experience implementing Writers’ Workshop. An accomplished writer, I am skilled at establishing an engaging learning environment in which students significantly improve writing skills.

    I am an organized, empathetic, and child-centered educator. I am confident that my experience and skill sets will be an asset to your students’ learning and development. I have enclosed my résumé and list of references. In addition, my application and related documents are on file with the ***** Human Resources. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss your school’s goals and how I can help meet them as a teacher. Thank you for your consideration.


    :) :thanks:
     
  28. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Hi Beezus,

    I'm not crazy about your opening. I think that first sentence is kind of stilted. Maybe you could find a way to combine it with the next paragraph?

    I also think you need more of a personal touch. Since the school is working on writing skills, I think you should be less modest about your successes in this area. Tell us specifics about your success and how the kids have improved their learning skills. "As an accomplished writer"... have you been published? If so, mention it. If not, talk a bit about HOW you create that engaging enviornment.

    Hope that helps a bit.
     
  29. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I think you need more specific examples of your succes.
     
  30. Pecas

    Pecas Companion

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    Ok, I want in! Anyone care to tell me what they think of this?

    I was excited to see the positions for both first and second grade elementary teachers for the 2006-2007 school year on the **** school website. In May 2005, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from **** State University and I hold certifications in Elementary Education and Middle School Social Studies through the state of Minnesota. I am interested in working in a school district that prides itself in developing responsible students, collaborates with the community, and continually strives for excellence.

    I have experience working in many different grade levels, but I am currently working as the 5th grade reading and math teacher and 5th/6th grade technology teacher for **** School in ***, MN. This position has enabled me to familiarize myself with the appropriate curriculums, design and deliver lessons, and develop a strong relationship with my students and fellow teachers. I have also had opportunities to challenge myself to be creative, engaging, flexible, and most importantly, patient! I am also able to further develop one of my biggest strengths: using technology in the classroom.

    I believe the purpose of education is to help students engage in self-discovery by learning to make choices and developing life skills that will be useful in the present and in their future. Since experience is the basis for learning, I want to provide my students with as many opportunities as I can for hands on, experiential learning. In my classroom I will use real-world situations and problems to help students identify how what they are learning can apply to real life. Students in my class will learn to make choices and find meaning in their lives and in their education.

    I am excited to have an opportunity to continue my teaching career at **** Elementary School. It is my goal to combine my range of experiences with my ability to be a creative, enthusiastic, and engaging teacher; one who will make a positive contribution to your school.

    Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to speaking with you soon.


    Please help me identify any weak spots, dry spots, or just plain awful spots!
     
  31. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    OK, here goes:

    end of paragraph 1: should it be a district "which"... instead of "that"???

    paragraph 2: How have you developed that strength of using tech in the classroom? Give specifids. And, maybe more to the point: How has it been of benefit to the kids?

    paragraph 3: you switch tenses. In 2, you were talking about what you have done, in 3 it's what you will do. Is that intentional? The impression I got was that you're turning over a new leaf-- probably not what you wanted to convey!

    All that said, I liked your letter, particularly your opening.
     
  32. Pecas

    Pecas Companion

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    Thanks!

    Those are good suggestions. I think the reason the tense changed is because I use to have the "teaching" paragraph in the present tense as I was currently teaching it. Now that it is summer, I changed it. I should change the third paragraph too. You're right, it does sound like I am trying to change something about my teaching, instead of doing it.
     
  33. Beezus

    Beezus Cohort

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    I agree: I don't like the opening-- I'm working on zipping it up. I have been published in university publications, have won awards for my writing, and was asked to present one of my papers at a conference. I also won the award for distinction in teaching language arts from the Ed Dept when I graduated. How can I weave this information in and not come across as being arrogant/boastful (which I surely am not!)
    As for giving specifics about how the kids improved learning skills: would it be appropriate to cite student scores, etc? I am kind of leaning toward including a quote from a student. Which would have more impact?
    I am having trouble with this because I've been told you want to keep your cover letter short and sweet, otherwise administrators don't even read it and gets filed away....
    Thanks so much for the input I've had so far! It really helps the thinking process!!
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I think perhaps the information about your hotshot background goes better in the resume; let the letter focus on your skills in teaching kids, now.
     
  35. Beezus

    Beezus Cohort

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    Thanks for your reply!
    Actually, all I listed in my resume were the awards. Shall I just drop the "accomplished writer" line all together? The only reason I included it in the first place is my friend (who was also working on hers), said "any little edge you can get....."
    I'm feeling now that I should just delete it.
     
  36. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    "Accomplished" is subjective. "Published" is not. I would re-phase it.
    And a line about an increase in assessment scores would probably fit in well; I would leave the details for the interview.

    The student quote: if you're doing a portfolio, is there a place on the cover or something for it??
     
  37. Beezus

    Beezus Cohort

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    I think I have been a real dunce! I was thinking about my cover letter issues as I was trying to get to sleep last night, and realized I have another aspect that might be better to focus on than the writing: Last year, I coached the academic teams at my school--Spell Bowl, MATH Team, and Science Bowl. (In fact, my Science Bowl team came in 7th in the state!).
    Do you agree this is a better pull to have in the cover letter? I'm thinking it shows that I am willing to put in the extra time, sponsor an activity/team, etc.
    Shall I dump the writing altogether and focus on this?
    Again, thanks SO much for all of your help!
     
  38. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This Is Great Information................................ Exactly The Stuff That Needs To Be Said.
     
  39. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I wouldn't "dump" the writing aspect, I just would highlight the other information
     
  40. lilbrandie

    lilbrandie Rookie

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    I know everyone is busy with there job searches and all, but I could use some constructive criticism on my cover letter. It was quickly done and sounds too textbook to me. Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated. My skin is thick so be honest. :):thanks:


    I am applying to your school district for a K-6 teaching position. I graduated from California State University XXXXX with a BA in Liberal Studies. I completed the credential program at California State University XXXXX in May 2005 and received my credential in July 2005.

    I have been substituting in the XXXXX and XXXXX School Districts for the 2005-2006 school year. I am impressed with the quality of education the students in your school district receive. I am also impressed by the variety and quality of educational programs in your schools. This shows your interest in providing opportunities for growth to all students.

    As a student teacher in the third and fifth grades, I had the opportunity to work with gifted, ESL, and included students. This diverse experience helped me develop effective teaching techniques, and unique classroom management strategies. I have created and instructed lesson plans in several disciplines, including but not limited to reading, mathematics, social studies, and science. Being in these classrooms has shown me the importance of cooperative learning as well as differentiated instruction. I have also implemented cross curriculum thematic units that are activity based. This allowed me to create a student-centered class environment in which students worked together in problem solving. I believe that I can use these experiences to help your students reach their full potential.
     

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