Deciding to become a teacher is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Becoming a teacher will require years of education and student teaching, and most likely will demand more time and energy than most occupations while the salary may well be less. Still, people who become teachers often view it as more of a calling for their life than a simple career. Their love of helping young people learn makes the decision an easy one. Therefore, as you finish your college education and student teaching, you will need to begin thinking about finding a teaching position. Most likely, this process will involve going to a teacher job fair. Before you go, however, you should keep several points in mind to ensure you stand out as a well-prepared, knowledgeable candidate.
The first thing you should remember is to do your homework. After all, you will spend lots of time as a teacher saying this to your students, so you should be able to do yours. Before the job fair, decide what school districts you would be interested in working under. Go to their websites and do some research. Gather information on demographics and enrollment trends. Take a close look at each district’s mission statement and educational philosophy. Does it match your philosophy? Do you think you would be a good fit? Are enrollment trends increasing or decreasing? Is the grade level you are interested in increasing or decreasing? Which schools in the district are gaining students, and which are losing students?
Next is the all-important step of resume preparation. If you are confident enough in your own abilities you can do this yourself. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to spend a few dollars to have it prepared by a professional resume writer. This person will know what style of resume, such as chronological or accomplishment-oriented, will work best for you. After the resume is completed, have it looked at by a career counselor or job coach for ways it can be improved. Once the resume has been fine-tuned, make lots of copies to hand out to prospective employers. Plan on taking 25 to 50 copies with you, depending on the size of the job fair. It’s better to have too many than not enough.
Before sitting down to interviews, be sure to practice your interviewing skills. Try to think of every question you could be asked and an appropriate response. In particular, think of good answers to standard questions like “where do you see yourself in five years?” and “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” before attending. A great way to gain confidence for your interview is to use role-playing to practice various interview scenarios, especially if you tend to be unsure of yourself in interviews. Also, prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Remember, they are not only interviewing you, you are also interviewing them. They need to convince you that they can provide the best fit for your talents. Thinking like this can give you a feeling of control in the interview, helping you relax.
Give serious thought to your career goals before the job fair as well. A few years into your career, would you still want to be teaching, or are you interested in moving up into administration? Maybe you would like to someday become a principal? Knowing the answers to these questions can go a long way in helping you during a job hunt.
Last, but not least – stay positive. Looking for a job is difficult in good economic times and much tougher in today’s world. Do not get discouraged before you begin. Dress as professionally as possible. Invest in a new outfit that will make a statement when you walk into the room. Go to a salon and get a great haircut, and maybe treat yourself to a relaxing massage. Go to the gym or out for a run, or take a bike ride through the countryside. After all, to feel good mentally, you must feel good physically.
So, the preparation is done and the big day has arrived. Walk into the room, resume in hand, looking and feeling great, and find your dream job!