3 Keys To Line Up A Killer Job While Still In School

I was reading through messages on TeacherLingo.com and came across this post by Erin.

I’m not yet a teacher but am researching the possibilities. I’m thinking about teaching history at a private school … What i would like to know is, what are the pitfalls? Is there a great deal of red tape? Do incoming teachers have to kowtow to the upper echelons or is it more egalitarian? How does the hiring process work and what are they looking for? What can i do now, as I’m still in school, to make myself a more attractive candidate?

MY RESPONSE:
I believe that the answers to these questions all depend on the specific school you end up teaching in. The last question you asked is the key. “What can I do now … to make myself a more attractive candidate?”

Some things you can do include:

Get out of the classroom and get into the classrooms
You don’t learn nearly as much about teaching by sitting in a class as you do by observing and actually teaching classes. Start tutoring middle school and high school students. Tutor in history since that’s what you want to do, but also tutor in any other subject area you might be competent in. I suggest tutoring middle school students as well, because I wanted to grow up and be a professional orchestra conductor until I started teaching sixth graders. Then I fell in love with teaching middle school band. Expand your horizons. That also gives you a larger depth to your resume. That’s a good thing.

Ask questions
Find out how a certain teacher keeps the class quiet as they entire the classroom. “We set the rules up from the beginning” is not enough of an answer. HOW do you establish the rules? Ask questions and keep digging. You will know you have enough information when you’ve been teaching for about 10 years and almost feel like you’re starting to know what you’re doing. I would identify as many possible scenarios (entering the class, asking to use the restroom, fire drill, interruptions, etc.) and figure out how you specifically want those situations to unfold. From there, formulate a behavioral script that the students are expected to follow. Then figure out how to eloquently articulate that script to high school students.

Volunteer
The single best way you can beef up your resume is to have leadership experience. Clerk at Chevron is not going to look as good as Historian for Alpha Beta Gamma, Sigma Delta Chapter. Unless, of course Alpha Beta Gamma is in the news for hazing or something else. Or start your own business. Erin’s Housekeeping Service. That shows initiative, foresight, and leadership. Plus, it’s great experience for your life down the road.

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Also, keep this in mind. It may seem sacrilegious coming on an education website, but the secret is….

NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR GRADES EXCEPT FOR YOU AND YOUR MOM

That being said, be wise and studious. Don’t waste a semester failing a class. But don’t worry about that as much as your own skills that are being developed through the three above ways.

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

3 Comments on 3 Keys To Line Up A Killer Job While Still In School

  1. Solid advice, Joel. I would add substitute teaching as another avenue of approach. IME, I have found that networking through substitute teaching gave me many good returns. For example, I learned what schools I would be interested in being Staff and I learned what schools in my district I had no interest in ever working.

  2. Frank,

    Substitute teaching is good as far as learning about specific schools. I don’t know that there is any resemblance of reality when it comes to subbing and actually being a regular teacher. We all remember how much trouble the other kids tried to cause for subs. Of course, it was never us being bad, but the other kids did!

    Seriously, I have known some of the quietest, most well-behaved kids in the world who got sucked into the “let’s mess with the sub” game. Of course if you can find a regular substitute position, where you’re regularly at a school you like and actually get a chance to begin to know some of the kids, the results can be different. I’m sure we also undoubtedly all remember that one sub who nobody messed with.

  3. Agreed, Joel, simply bouncing around a bunch of schools as a sub is not a praticularly productive avenue for gaining some measure of useful experience. I should have stated something along the lines of “subbing at the same school or small number of schools” as in being on the “Preferred Substitute List” or the school district’s analog of same.

    Students causing problems for subs? Amazing, do tell … :) In my case, this behavior was probably negated by the fact I look remarkably like the central character in the video game “The Hitman” … only I’m bigger, and I’m real, so I had an edge. Still, if someone is contemplating becoming a Teacher then I think there is something to be gained by subbing at a school or two and doing so more than just a couple of times. Your thoughts?

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