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Learning Center Experience
By Brooke Howell
If you’re training to become a teacher, you should set
yourself up to get your first teaching job as soon as you’re certified. “You
really need to think about being hired before you get certified,” says Kaplan
University’s School of Graduate Education Associate Dean Lynn Massenzio.
Here’s what you should be doing along the way to getting
your certification to put yourself in a good position to land your first
teaching job fast.
You need to do more than enroll in a teacher education
program to demonstrate to prospective employers that you enjoy working with
children, says Massenzio.
with as many kinds of children, with as many ages of children, in as many
different situations with children as possible,” says Jim Longo, professor and
chairman of the Washington and Jefferson College Department of Education.
seek out opportunities to work with children. There is no better training to be
a successful teacher than to know and understand them. Work as a counselor at
summer camps, coach younger children, work with Scouting programs, teach Sunday
and Sabbath schools, babysit, etc.”
You should also substitute teach, volunteer and find other
ways to get involved with the school systems where you might like to work after
you get certified, says Massenzio. That will show you know what it’s like to be
in a classroom, and “schools are going to hire people they know.”
And while you’re working in the schools, don’t just get to
know the principal and other administrators; make an effort to get to know
other teachers and staff members too, she says. “If a principal is looking to
hire and three of his or her teachers give you great recommendation, you’ll
have a much better chance.”
Networking isn’t just for the corporate world. In fact, it’s vital to
getting a teaching job, say education veterans.
“Become active in professional education associations and make
connections with local educators,” s>ays Michael Uttendorfer, dean of New York Institute of
Technology School of Education. “They may be a good
source of information about job openings.”
As you work with children and schools and go through your
teacher education program, you should keep everything you do — lesson plans,
classroom management toolkit and other materials — to build a portfolio of your
work, says Massenzio.
samples will help you demonstrate your teaching and planning skills to
prospective employers, explains Uttendorfer.
When you receive your certification and start looking for
your first teaching job, “a
thoughtful, targeted, professional approach is the best use both of your time
and the school staff members’ time,” says Celia Scheff, communications
specialist for the Urban Teacher Center.
offers this advice:
Be on time.
Always arrive 10 to 15 minutes early for any interview.
Dress professionally. Regardless of the interviewers’ attire or school culture, wear a suit.
It makes an impression and you’ll stand out.
Research the school. Every school culture is different and you want to show you are a good
Be considerate of administrators’ schedules. They’re taking time to interview
you in the midst of other responsibilities.
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