It is that time of year when a whole new group of excited teachers step out into the world of public education. Where will they find job openings? How will they prepare for the interviews? What will they show to represent themselves as a teacher? What will they do if they DO get the job?!
In coming blogs, I will go back to my original focus and begin to advise those new teachers - the ones just starting out in this awesome profession! I'm in the process of creating Application Packets you can download and adapt for your own portfolio, teaching philosophy guides, and so much more that will help you navigate the competitive education world.
In the meantime, I want you to start preparing on your own. Start compiling your own Brag List. It is almost guaranteed that you will be asked 'your greatest strengths and your greatest weaknesses.' I HATED this part of the interview, but it is still the #1 question asked by interview committees.
Oddly, my weaknesses come easy to me, so I would be tempted to elaborate on them, while my modest nature (I've gotten over this!) would limit my strengths. GET OVER IT! Start your brag list, and then begin to develop your responses with student-centered stories. My greatest strength is my ability to entertain. MY response in an interview:
"It's so important in the classroom today to get students engaged and to keep them engaged! If you have their attention, you can open their minds to all the information you have to offer them, and you can also build the trust you need from them to help them learn to the best of their ability. I entertain well! I dance, I sing, I even dress in costume to keep my students with me in my classroom! More importantly, I also encourage them to become entertainers as well. Once they start living the lessons, the learning becomes second nature to them! Oh, and my greatest weakness is trying to do too much at once. I just have to be trying to save the world every day!"
See what I mean?! It's a much better response than I have heard from MANY interviewees:
"I am organized, I plan very well, and I am great at classroom management. My weaknesses are working with apathetic students, learning the new computer systems, and keeping up with paperwork."
Blah, blah, blah. Boring!
Make your interview stand out. Make them remember you, and they will quickly realize that your students will remember you as well! You will be the one they are looking for in their school!
And if you didn't catch my weakness in there, go back and read again - it is a GOOD thing! And that positiveness is another aspect they will remember. :)
To get a jump on things, I will leave you with one bit of wisdom. And, as always, my first piece of advice is the same I offer to every group of new teachers: STAY OUT OF THE WORKROOM or TEACHER'S LOUNGE! If you are currently a student teacher, or an aide waiting for that classroom position to open up, do not sit in the lounge with the soon-to-be retirees. Times have changed since they started teaching, and their ideas on what is good in the academic world may be outdated. More importantly, if you are drawn into the negative conversations, the administrators in the building will learn that about you immediately. Just like on the playground, word travels fast from the lounge to the admin's office!
Oh, and if you need something to read to get you ready for your first years in the classroom, take a look at my book: A Lesson Plan for Teachers, New and Old! It is available at TeacherspayTeachers in print and download version.
Start getting ready!