Today I am excited to welcome William A. Kresse, Ph.D. and Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D. They are the authors of The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview. They wrote a previous piece here at HoJo’s Teaching Adventures entitled Panicked About the Teacher Interview?: Five Areas of Focus for the Busy Teacher Candidate. Today they are here to share the “Top Five Things To Do During Student Teaching to Make Your Teacher Interview Easier!” Please sit back and enjoy! (Or better yet, forward it on to your friends and share it on your networks so more student teachers can hear this great advice!)
Student teaching represents your finest, yet most stressful, hour as a teacher candidate. You are finally in the classroom doing what you have been training for years to do. At the same time, you are completing additional coursework, taking certificate exams, and fretting about being prepared for eventual teacher interviews. So far as preparing for the teacher interview process, our advice is not to worry too much about that right now. Focus on the matters at hand. However, there are a few things you can do at this moment that will save you a great deal of time and energy when it comes time for the teacher interview. Here are the top five things you can do while student teaching to make things easier for your eventual teacher interview:
1. Collect Artifacts: A teacher portfolio is a must these days for the teacher interview and there is nothing worse than a portfolio that has a bunch of random odds and ends thrown together at the last moment. Retain everything you can from your student teaching so you will have a rich library to choose from when you eventually assemble your portfolio. Particularly useful are artifacts that show a progression from lesson design all the way to eventual student products. (HoJo has a blog post about how to create a portfolio here!)
2. Keep a Daily Audio Journal: No need to panic about more writing. Journals are so easy to keep these days because you just need to sit down and talk with your smartphone or computer for a few minutes before turning in each night. What’s the value in this? During interviews, you are going to be posed with a number of questions asking you to draw on your experiences and provide examples of how you managed certain scenarios. Listening to your journal will help to keep special events, students, successes and even failures fresh in your mind. There is nothing worse than not having an example ready to go for a hiring team. The audio journal saves you from this. (just be sure to password protect your journal it so your little brother won’t get a hold of it! J)
3. Take Pictures: Members of a hiring committee interviewing an unfamiliar candidate may struggle to visualize the candidate leading a classroom, particularly if they are coming right out of teaching college and/or are very youthful. Be sure you have a clear understanding of what photography is acceptable under the student privacy procedures of your host school. Sometimes you have to get creative like only taking pics from the back of a class or sending home a release letter to parents of students pictured. However, it is worth the time and trouble. Not only will it help the hiring committee to easily envision you directing a classroom, it is the perfect touch to compliment the progression artifacts described above.
4. Clean Up Your Digital Footprint: Whether it is fair or not, hiring teams are increasingly hitting Twitter, Facebook, Google, Instagram etc. to find the ‘real you.’ When schools hire teachers for even a day, they are entering into a costly relationship that can be difficult to exit. They need to be sure the candidate at the teacher interview is the same person they will get when the classroom door closes. As someone entering the teaching profession, you take on the burden of a higher standard out in the digital world. Privacy settings are only partially effective in keeping others from seeing your online social life. The good news is that you have a few months to get things cleaned up. Check all your, posts, pictures, user names and even outgoing voicemail messages to be sure a group of stakeholders looking to hire you would see you as a person who is ideal to work with children and worth the investment.
5. Network and Be Nice to Everyone: Everyday as a student teacher (or substitute teacher) is an interview. You should look to impress and meet more than your cooperating teacher or administrators. You can never tell who is going to put in a good word about you (or bad word) from the school secretary, to custodians to parents. So make every relationship count. Introduce yourself to all that you encounter from high to low and be sure that your interactions are more than transactional. Schools are small communities. People talk within communities and amongst school communities. Your relationships will have a ripple effect that can either help to propel you when an opening arises or quickly end your opportunity without your knowledge.
Attend to these five things for now and you will be well ahead of the game when you have less on your plate and can begin your teacher interview preparations in earnest. Thank you to our friend Heather (aka HoJo) for everything she does to make the lives of teacher and future teachers easier!
Dr. Kresse and Dr. Vallely (Bill and Mike) are the authors of the groundbreaking book, The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview (2012), and founders of the theEDUedge.com which provides free resources and support for teacher interview preparation. Veteran school leaders, the authors are dedicated to studying and sharing insider information on the teacher interview in order to reduce stress among teaching candidates. Bill and Mike present at teaching colleges regularly or as much as their wives will allow them. The authors can be reached at info@theEDUedge.com.