Get Your Teaching Job!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

5 Tips For Getting A #TeachingJob In a Tough Market

Classroom in Fort Christmas

by Tim Wei

The Upper Mid-West is one of the absolute hardest states to find a job in. In fact, many areas in the United States have a surplus of qualified teachers and very, very few open positions to fill.

Why? It's the economy. The manufacturing jobs that were once the staple of the mid-western economy are going bankrupt and/or relocating to other countries, where labor is cheaper. As high-paying jobs leave the state, young people with families leave to areas with stronger economies.    Schools, therefore, need fewer teachers because there are fewer students.

The population in Upper Mid-West isn't growing much (if at all). The economy is dead.  The state is getting less tax money as companies and people leave the state.  And, yet, high-quality teacher colleges still pump out hundreds of candidates each year.  The result:  Lots of excellent teacher candidates in a locations with no available jobs.

This trend isn't unique to the Mid-West. Similar teacher job markets exist throughout the northeastern United States, in places such as Upstate New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

So, if you're in one of these tough job markets, what should you do?  If moving is a possibility for you, you might consider relocating to places with stronger economies.

If moving is not an option for you, you can still get a job; you just have to work REALLY hard to market yourself.  Schools still need SOME new teachers, though certainly not enough to seriously decrease the huge supply.  In order to land a job, you'll have to market yourself so well that you stand out as one of the top 2% of teaching candidates.


1. After you've formally applied for a job through a district's human resources office, send a paper copy of your resume and a letter of interest to the PRINCIPAL of the school you want to work at. HR offices typically forward 10-20% of the candidates to principals and ignore the other 80%. Since principals usually have direct control over hiring, you need to make direct contact with them.  If a principal is impressed with your qualifications, he/she can easily arrange an interview.

2. Teaching jobs advertised in newspapers and on the Internet typically have TONS of candidates applying. Your best bet-- call schools directly and ask if they'll be hiring in the near future. Most jobs aren't advertised heavily (because they already have lots of candidates). The jobs that ARE advertised heavily will have way too many qualified candidates -- which decreases your chance of getting the job. So, use the phone book to find those unadvertised jobs.

3. Be sure your cover letter is so good they won't pass you up.  Have a great introduction sentence that catches their interest. If you're not a great cover letter/resume designer, have it done professionally.  And remember:  while good design can get your cover letter noticed, it comes down to high-quality content and excellent qualifications that will get you an interview.

4. Practice common interview questions beforehand. Typically similar questions are asked at all teacher interviews. If you practice beforehand and think about what you'll say, the questions will seem routine and familiar.

5.  Here's a link to an eBook about getting teaching jobs. It has advice for finding jobs, tips to polish your cover letter and resume, common teacher interview questions and answers, and more.  The eBook has enough solid advice to give you an edge over the other candidates.  It can be downloaded at:

Best of luck to you in your job search!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'll Be Using Drones to Deliver Teaching Jobs by 2020

This post could be subtitled “Show me the Money!”  

You see, I've hired a good number of teachers over the years, and, while I’ve hired some top-notch teachers, I've also been burned a few times (BTW, I consider being burned once “too many”).  

As an educational leader, I need to ensure that all students in my building have access to a great teacher.  Not just good, great.  In the past I’ve relied mainly on responses to interview questions to determine who would be a good teacher.  Sure, I asked for writing samples and examples from class and questions about development and lesson planning and so on.  But I very rarely asked for demonstrations, prototypes, or products.

This hiring season, that’s all going to change.  My new motto is, “Show me the money.”  If you interview with me, you better be able to demonstrate that you have the skills to help students be successful 21st century learners.  I’m no longer interested in answering the question, “Can you teach?”  Anyone with an overhead projector can stand up and ‘teach.’  What I want to know is can you use the latest technology and methodology to facilitate learning, collaboration, problem solving, and creative thinking?

Because we are living in a digital world I don’t want to see this stuff in a three-ring binder with a cute cover.  I want you to use digital tools, the same ones your students will use in class, to demonstrate why I should hire you.  Here’s what I want to see (feel free to comment about anything you want to show me that I left out).

1) Your professional Social Media persona.  

What you don’t have a professional SM presence?  Well why not?  Every teacher and administrator should have, at a minimum, a professional Twitter and Facebook page.  If you have access you should also sign up for Edmodo and may consider Google+ which is growing, especially among professionals.  I want to see how you are interacting with parents and students.  I want to see who is in your personal learning network (PLN) - in other words, who you are learning from.  I want to see how you augment what’s going on in the classroom.  

I do not want to see your personal Facebook page or Twitter stream. Your personal and professional lives should be chronicled on separate pages.  Facebook will not allow you to create two accounts but as a teacher Facebook will allow you to set up Page (formerly Fan Pages or Groups).  All you have to do is click on Create a Page on the login page (highlighted).  The page will automatically be connected to your account.

Creating a page rather than an account will enable you to communicate with students and parents without friending them (I never recommending friending students).  Twitter allows you to have more than one handle so there’s no problem there.

2) Your blog.

I believe everyone should write.  Having a blog forces you to work out and organize your thoughts and ideas.  You can blog about any aspect of your professional life.  If you’re looking for your first teaching gig blog about what you plan to do when you get your own classroom, what you did as a student teacher, or about great teachers.  Write about methodology, pedagogy, or any other ‘ogy’ you can think of.  Write about your challenges and your successes.  Write about anything. Just write.  Wordpress, Blogger, and Edublogs all have excellent and free blogging tools.  My only word of caution with blogging is to keep student information confidential, you don’t want to wind up on the 6 o’clock news because you wrote about Sammy’s bloody nose, bad behavior, or poor test grade.

3) Your digital portfolio.

I also want to see everything else you’ve created on-line, your web projects, your student videos, your animotos, your Vimeos, and even your VoiceThreads but I don’t want to spend the entire interview typing web addresses so make sure you pull everything together into one site.  Sites like, Glogster and will allow you to pull from many web sources that way during the interview I only have to type in one address and you can guide me through your digital life.  

And if you’ll allow me just one more …

4) Your email.

After the interview I may want to email you. That’s why now is the perfect time to set a professional email account.  Call me old school but when I see a candidate’s email address as, “” or “” or even, god forbid, “” it really makes my skin crawl.  As a hiring manager my thoughts immediately jump to whether or not you have the maturity to handle a classroom.  Email is free.  Set up an account with some variant of your name and use that for all professional correspondence.

Good Luck! Feel free to ask any questions or to share your experience in the comments section below.

---Scott A. Ziegler has 20 Years of experience in public education having served as a teacher, school administrator, and district level administrator.  He is life-long learner, lover of all things tech,  devoted husband, father of five, and weekend adventure seeker.  He also practices what he writes and invites you to connect via his blog, Twitter, Facebook (under construction), Linkin, or Flavors.