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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top 10 Tips for Landing a Teaching Job

Since graduating college 5 years ago, I have searched for a teaching job three times- once out of college, again after a Reduction in Force, and finally when my husband landed a job out-of-state. The job search process can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 10 tips for landing a teaching job!

Top Tips for Landing a Teaching Job- Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

1) Build and use connections.
I can’t tell you how many times a position in my school was posted as “available,” but the principal really had someone in mind already. Usually, this person was a substitute teacher, a paraprofessional, a student teacher, or a volunteer that the school staff knows and loves already. Whenever possible, find a way to spend time in the school and network so you can be that “in” person!

2) Aim for professionalism everywhere- including online.
Administrators are looking to hire education professionals. Be sure that you make the best impression possible- from your interview attire, to your resume’, to your social media profiles and postings. Professionalism alone won’t win you the job, but a lack of professionalism can make you lose it.

3) Find a proofreader.
When a principal hires someone to teach spelling and grammar, they are looking for someone who can demonstrate it. In a stack of resumes, would you put one on top that says “alot” as one word? A computer spell checker is not enough. Ask a friend to double-check your application materials, especially your resume and cover letter.

Setting up for a Teacher Job Search- from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

4) Organize your job search materials- both physical and digital!
Most teacher job applications ask for your resume, a letter of interest, letters of recommendation, your transcript, and your educator license. I kept important original documents in one folder, made extra copies of everything, and scanned everything I thought I might need digitally. I put every digital file into a designated job search folder, so I was never searching my computer to find the right file. When I started looking, I also created a job hunt bag for my physical portfolio, copies of my resume, letters of recommendation, etc. It was all in one place, ready for an interview at a moment’s notice.

5) Search online…
Use the Internet to your advantage. Find teacher job search platforms (such as and, but be sure you also check the website for the state Department of Education and the websites of your local districts. I made a bookmarks folder on my computer to make it much quicker to check these every day. [You can read more about job search organization here.]

6) … and go in person!
Although digital application platforms can be efficient, a personal touch can make a huge difference. I like to stop by schools (dressed in a suit) and ask if I can introduce myself to the principal. Even if I can’t, I drop off a physical copy of my resume’ if they’ll take it, and I am sure to be very polite to anyone I see! (Sometimes you may not meet a principal- but you want to make a good impression with the secretary, custodian, or whomever you meet!) Face-to-face can be the edge you need in a digital arena. Adding a handwritten thank you note after an interview can tip the scales in your favor, too.

7) Highlight your experience and strengths.
When you create a resume, letter of interest, and portfolio, give specific examples of extraordinary activities you have done. We all have taught lessons, given assessments, etc.- but what did you do that other teachers wouldn’t have done? The more specific you can be, the more you will stand out!

Teaching Portfolio from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

8) Use your portfolio in your interview.
Let’s face it- most principals and interview committees just don’t have time (or take time) to look through your portfolio. When I interviewed, I created a portfolio for myself to use as a prop. When the principal asked a question about my classroom management, I not only told her what I do, but I was able to show her as well. Visuals (especially photographs!) are incredibly effective in helping administrators imagine you teaching in their school. [Read more tips for making a teacher portfolio HERE.]

9) Do your research and show why you want THIS job, not just any job.
Even if you just plain need a job, take the time to research each school and district so that you can personalize your letter of interest and resume’ to match. Ask an example- if they’re an RTI school, mention your previous experience providing interventions for struggling students. Before an interview, this research can also help you come up with great questions to ask that show your interest in the job!

10) Make it “you”!
One time, I applied for a position and never heard back, even though a teacher in the district had personally recommended me. When he asked the principal, she told him there were over 400 applicants for a single position. In an applicant pool so large, you need to do something to make yourself stand out. When I dropped off my resume’ and materials to schools last fall, I placed them in these rainbow folders. Unconventional? Sure, but when a principal mentioned it at an interview, I knew showing a little personality had helped my resume’ stand out.

Job Search Tri-Folder from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

Sending a deluge of teaching applications with no response can be discouraging, but stick with it! Finding the right school that appreciates your talents and strengths is well worth it. Best of luck to you on your job search!

{Oh, and if it goes well? You may end up in a new position like me! This year I’ll be teaching 4th grade science and social studies! Excited to try something new!}

If you liked this post, you may also find other posts in my On the Hunt for a Teaching Job series helpful… and once you get the job, be sure to check out my series, I Just Got a Teaching Job, Now What?! Thanks for reading  : )

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bright Idea: Happy Journals

Time for a bright idea for teaching your students to be happier!

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A few years back, I worked with a student who was constantly negative. She would constantly tell me everything that had gone wrong with every day, and her very self-centered worldview made it hard for everything not to seem like some kind of personal injustice.

I worked with this student after school, and thankfully her parents understood that their child needed emotional support as much as she needed academic support.

I wanted to encourage some positive self-talk and giving the student an opportunity to reflect on the positive things going on in her day, so we created a Happy Journal!

I gave her complete control over the cover. I drew “Happy Journal” on the cover to get her started, but otherwise I let her fill in pictures and words of things she loved, and a few stickers too. I wanted it to feel like HERS- and show all the things that made her happy.
On the inside cover, I wrote her a personal note about the purpose of the journal. I’m an optimist at heart, and I truly believe in the power of forcing yourself to TRY to think positively, even when you don’t feel like it! Looking for the blessings is a powerful thing.
Every day, I asked her to write 3 positive things about her day or about life. Occasionally, she could even think of more.
Having a reason to look for those good things (and meeting with someone to stay accountable) made a huge difference in this child.
I wasn’t picky about spelling, punctuation, or even complete sentences- this was all about taking the time to notice good things in life. It also helped me (and her parents) to see some of the things that helped her mood.
After doing this as a sort of intervention for one student, I think that it would make a great end-of-the-day activity for ALL of my kids after they pack up for the day.
A Happy Journal made a huge difference for this girl. Hopefully, it’s an idea that could come in handy in your classroom, too!  : )
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out another Bright Ideas post on how I organize progress monitoring data and anecdotal notes. Please consider following me on Facebook, Instagram, and Bloglovin!
You can read lots more Bright Ideas for your classroom here. Be sure to check the grade level and topics!