Mack Welford 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Tough economic times demand not only tight school budgets, but also cuts in staff and programs. These cuts can translate to teacher layoffs, few open positions for new teacher graduates, and lost elective curriculum programs, such as art, music, physical education, elementary guidance, and even athletics. So what is the good news and what are teaching graduates to expect and do as they enter the field? Teacher layoffs and job shortages have been around for a century. During the 1930s Great Depression, many teaching positions were lost. Employed teachers endured drastic salary cutsup to 50 percent over two to three years, and some were even paid in multi-year state bonds instead of cash. In the 1980s, it was routine in many districts to distribute pink-slips near the end of the school year to all non-tenured teachers. Now a decade into the 21st century, the field of teaching is experiencing another down cycle. The fallout of economic conditions and school district financial pressures has led to stricter budget cuts, layoffs, and even school closings. Among many educators, morale is low and anxiety high. New teacher candidates will not be immune to these conditions and pressures or the resulting tension and stress of these situations. Laid-off non-tenured educators often are rehired before new teachers are hired. Yet new teachers need not let these realities overwhelm them. My crystal ball (polished with the wisdom of years of experience) tells me, concerning the current educational woes, that “this too shall pass.” What is an unknown job situation for new graduates is familiar to teachers who have taught for 20 years or more. So what happens now? Teachers applying for their first position should proceed as though they were applying for law or medical school. By that I mean that they should apply in 25 or 30 different school districts, and hope for three or four interviews and one or two offers. Acknowledging that competition is keen helps keep expectations and outcomes in perspective. In addition to maintaining a positive outlook, job-searching teachers should be open-minded, flexible, and ready for opportunities. As part of their “getting ready” list for job-seeking new teachers must: • Self-Assess — Examine and list specific teaching skills and experiences, as well as competencies from non-teaching roles. • Create job-search materials — Meticulously build stellar résumés, cover letters, and portfolios. • Ask for references — Request letters of recommendation and references from professors, cooperating teachers, and employers who can describe important characteristics such as personal character and work ethic. Ample time should be allowed for fulfilling the request. • Seek open positions through various resources. These resources include personal connections; recruiting services such as Teachers-Teachers.Com; and Web. KDP’s Career Center (www.kdp.org/teachingresources/careercenter.php) and state departments of education are great places to start. • Be willing to relocate, nationally or even internationally. • Practice interviewing — Rehearse responses to typical education-interview questions first with friends or family, fellow education students, and then with a supervising teacher or other professor. Be ready to speak confidently, enthusiastically, and convincingly. • Research the school — Become familiar with a school’s mission, demographics, schoolwide programming, and profile before interviewing. Interviewees must be prepared to discuss how their experiences, capabilities, and teaching vision fit the school’s needs and goals. • Follow up by sending thank you notes after interviews that express gratitude for the opportunity to interview and a continued interest in the position. • Try new wings. Job opportunities increase when candidates are open to new possibilities and educational venues, such as private or military base schools, overseas positions, nontraditional settings, or corporate training positions if a job outside of teaching becomes necessary. Be strong and innovative. Have hope. So many changes are on the horizon in educational practices and settings. There are always teaching jobs “somewhere” for enthusiastic and qualified new teachers. Www.dodea.edu/home At the Department of Defense Education Activities site, jobseekers can learn about and apply for positions teaching the children of government employees or military personnel. Www.state.gov/m/a/os/c16899.htm This Department of State site offers information about international schools overseas—independent, non-government institutions. Www.tieonline.com The International Educator posts international job listings as well as general information about teaching internationally. Http://tinyurl.com/ybcuyza At KDP’s Career Center, job-seekers can find sample résumés and cover letters, links to recruiting services and state departments of education, and various other resources.
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