The Teaching Interview

Tis the season for new graduates to begin interviewing for those few teaching positions open for the coming school year.  It's a tough position to be in, knowing that there is so much competition, yet also feeling like you want to find that perfect place where you can be the best teacher in the world!  Still, you need to apply, and you need to interview... Everywhere.

My first piece of advice for new graduates (and those still in the interview pool) is to interview everywhere you get the opportunity.  It's not just for the position, but it's for the experience of the interview.  Having set in on many interviews in my teaching career, I can tell you that so many come into the meeting filled with nerves and jitters, often so much so that they are unable to carry on an effective session.  Their nerves will not allow them to focus, or to think clearly, and the interview is a bust.

While nervousness is just part of the process, there are ways to be more prepared for the interview.  The first step toward that preparedness is building confidence.  Know your stuff!  This includes everything about YOU that you want to share, everything about your content area, and everything about the school at which you will be interviewing.  In the most effective (and impressive) interviews, the candidate asks more questions than those conducting the interview.  It shows that you have put in the time and effort to the school already and that you are genuinely interested in their students and their success.

Another related tip is simple - practice.  Interview with your parents, your spouse, your children, your dog... even your mirror.  Just talk.  Get used to bragging about your greatest talents and your awesome accomplishments.  Practice speaking clearly and with developed vocabulary.  Rehearse coming alive in your interview - after all, all life is a stage!

Next is the interview itself.  Here are my quick tips:
  1. Dress appropriately!  This is not date night, nor a party with friends.  Wear a suit or professional outfit that shows your ability to be the adult in the classroom.  And if you are applying for a secondary position, you MUST be able to distinguish yourself from the students.  Do not dress like them in the interview (or ever!).
  2. Be outgoing!  Reach your hand out for firm handshakes at the very onset of the interview, and do not stop from there.  Use your hands, use your voice, and perform.  Elaborate on your ideas, and do not be afraid to show what you will be like in the classroom.  If you will teach with voices, use those voices.  If you will dance and sing, dance and sing!  After all, if you can engage a group of old teachers (your interview committee), you should be able to engage a classroom of kids!
  3. Be sincere!  Tell them what you know, but also what you still have to learn.  As a new teacher, you DO NOT know it all.  Your latest and greatest methods may not yet be proven, and your know-it-all attitude may be to intimidating for the committee to endure.  More importantly, being sincere about your faults, meanwhile showing your dedication to improvement is something every administrator will appreciate.
  4. Show your knowledge!  Teach in your interview.  While it is understood that you will not know your content at 100% (none of us do), you should have a firm grasp on the basics.  Introduce your favorite content topics and show your passion for your subject area.
  5. Sell yourself!  To be an effective teacher, you must know how to market effectively.  You will be selling yourself, your ideas, your content, and your methods for the rest of your career.  You must sell all of this to your students, your co-workers, your administrators, and now the state and federal governments!  And selling is simple - know your product (you, your content, your methods) and show, show show! 
  6. Be thankful!  Appreciate the time and energy the committee has given on your behalf.  Tell them you appreciate the opportunity and that you welcome their thoughts and feedback.  Laugh, and share your apprehension, but also your excitement about the chance that you may be able to work in their school, with their students, and with them!
  7. Follow up!  While some may consider it old fashioned, I can promise you that the after-interview follow up can be crucial.  Many interview committees find themselves locked between 2-3 candidates after the interview.  A simple thank-you card, or even an email, can show them you are waiting for that call, and that you are the one they want as part of the team.
One last piece of advice I will offer is to go into the interview ready for battle!  Take in your interview packets, and have a professional teaching portfolio in hand to reference throughout the interview.  Click here for a FREE Teaching Portfolio Checklist.  Having an online portfolio is an added bonus!  This not only provides you with the goodies you need to pull out of your hat in the interview, it gives you something to clasp and squeeze when the nerves attack!

Good luck to all!

Michele Luck

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

Michele Luck

Finding Resources Online - A Secondary Blog Hop!

It is often difficult to find just the right lesson for the Secondary classroom.  Many of us are set in our own ways, and it makes it hard for us to accept second rate lessons or to fall back on age-old textbook resources for those lessons we just can't take the time to create for ourselves.  Thank goodness for TeachersPayTeachers.  Through this online marketplace, teachers can now find quality lessons they can feel confident about using in their classroom with their students!

This week we Secondary teachers are holding a Blog Hop to help you meet some of the teachers who are working hard to develop quality lessons on TpT.  Start at any point on the Hop, and find your way through the Secondary World!  Bookmark the blogs you enjoy, and be sure to visit them again for great advice, new ideas, and of course, awesome resources!  And, of course, make sure to leave comments and follow the blogs to be entered to win our great prizes!

About me:  My blog is all about teachers!  It is based on the ideas presented in my book, A Lesson Plan for Teachers, and I attack topics I feel need to be addressed for new or struggling teachers in all grade levels.  In addition, I am constantly posting new items, free and priced, to help teachers stock up their classrooms with the most up-to-date and exciting lessons they can find for the ELA and Social Studies classroom!

In my TpT Store, you will find everything from resources to help you get started as a teacher to ELA materials for the secondary grades to a whole treasure trove of Social Studies lessons and activities! 

Choose from my latest and greatest Freebies!

A Walking Tour for the Winter Holidays - allow your students to travel around the world to investigate how other countries celebrate the season!

The Twelve Days of Christmas Acts of Kindness Contracts - teach about giving this holiday season and allow your students to brainstorm how they can make the season brighter this year!

The New Teacher Application Packet - getting that first interview can be the greatest challenge.  Use these templates and pieces of advice to make sure you stand out in the hiring process!

A "Front & Back Assignment" on the Northern Renaissance - tired of juggling the students who miss your great interactive lessons?  My "Front & Back" assignments supplement for those who miss the Walking Tour Centers Activity and will allow you to stay on track!

Canada Scavenger Hunt Game - playing to learn is the oldest trick in the book for teachers, but it works!  Allow your students to play their way to learning about or reviewing the Human Geography of Canada!

And, not a Freebie, but a MUST for every classroom:

The Human Game Board Kit - turn your classroom into a human game board to review any content.  Allow students to create the questions or use the test bank questions to make sure students know the knowledge you want them to know for the upcoming test or for the entire year!  A number of these game sets are available in different colors and themes in my store!

And take a look around MY TpT STORE for other great resources!  You never know what you may find that can turn your classroom into an interactive world of learning every day!

Want to win a Human Game Board Kit?  Leave a comment on this blog, and be sure to hop to each of the others to leave your comments there to enter!

And now - Hop on over to the next blog for great Science resources:  Sciene Teacher Resources.


Michele Luck

Applying for that Perfect Teaching Job

It's now time for the teacher graduates to begin their job hunt!  There are few jobs out there in some areas of the teaching world these days, especially in certain regions, specific grade levels or content areas, but it can be done!

Do not get discouraged, and remember this key piece of advice:  It's all about getting into the building.  My husband was a December graduate, and his first position was as a full time sub, landing him into the building that he would teach at the majority of his career.  His hiring philosophy was simple - If they will hire him, he will do it!  And they did!

Keep in mind, though, that getting the job requires your being interviewed.  You must be seen by the administrators in the building, and they must know your interest.  Get out there!  Go to the schools where you can see yourself being successful, and walk in the principal's office.  Be confident, and be enthusiastic.  It is not about "knowing someone" all of the time.  You can also get to know them and have just as much success!

While first impressions and your public speaking ability can provide immense information about you and your ability to teach, you must provide them something to HOLD.  Think about it - When you go to the car lot to look at those shiny new cars, what does the salesman insist you do?  Hold the keys.  If you hold those keys, there is a chance you will feel like it is yours and they you must take it home.  In the case of the principal - they must hold a piece of you so they can feel the need to bring you into their school family.

So, what do you leave for or with the administrator?  I have you all set up!  Download my FREE Application, Resume, and Interview Packet Templates to help you prepare.  Follow my tips and advice, and land that interview!  Then, it's all on you!  Be confident!  Show them who you are and all you can offer.  In no time, you will be responsible for all those little ones under your feet!  Or, in my case, all those big ones staring you in the face!

Good luck!
Michele Luck

New Graduates

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!
Michele Luck

Holiday Gift Book!

While we all know the greatest gift at Christmas is the gift of giving, receiving a gift as grand as this is still very exciting!  
Over 30 teachers have collaborated to bring your the 2013 Holiday Gift Book.  This FREEBIE is filled with exciting lessons, fun activities, and amazing resources to use in your classes as the Holiday Season approaches and all year long.  Each lesson was developed by a TpT Seller and contributed to the book for your use.  In return, we hope you will take the time to visit each seller's TpT Store to find other great resources to use the whole year through!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!  :)

Michele Luck