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Tips on How to Become a Teacher: Getting the Job

written by: stadams•edited by: Trent Lorcher•updated: 9/11/2012

How do you land a teaching job when no one is hiring? School districts are cutting budgets, teachers are postponing retirement, student to teacher ratios are going up and jobs are hard to come by. No fear the answer is here with these tips on how to become a teacher.

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    Getting a Teaching Job During Tough Economic Times


    Although times are tight in our nation, there are places that are in desperate need of teachers and are even offering signing bonuses. The first thing to consider if you can’t find a job close to home is moving. If you are willing to relocate to New Orleans, Nevada or one of several Native American Nations then your chances of landing a job increase dramatically.

    Know the System:

    The first step in how to become a teacher is getting the 411 on the school district of your choice. Make a friend at the human resources office and find out not only the official protocol for the application process, but the unofficial path to employment as well. For example: a district may use an online application process, but in reality principals never take the time to search online resumes. They don’t need to because they get resumes by email and facsimile every day. You will need to go through the official steps, but you also need to follow-up with specific schools which interested you.

    In order for you to edge out the crowd of emails and faxes, I recommend a personal visit with the principal and a hand delivered resume on quality paper. You can expect a hardy hand shake and a statement something like, “we will be in touch if anything opens up.” On occasion you may be invited to sit and chat for a moment. Be ready for an impromptu interview. A personal meeting no matter how brief will give you the edge.

    Foot in the Door:

    The next step in how to become a teacher is getting a foot in the door, literally. If you become a regular face and demonstrate professionalism and desire, your odds of filling the next vacancy are greatly increased. The first and most obvious way is substituting. I have some specific advice for substitutes below. Here are a few more ideas that you may not have considered.

    • Become a volunteer for the school. As a principal I have yet to turn away a volunteer, and I am willing to bet you won’t get turned away either. Having said that, don’t be cliché. If you say you want to volunteer, then volunteer. Most so-called volunteers never follow through on their offer.
    • Other opportunities are coaching, directing the school play, serving on a committee or running a fund-raiser on behalf of the school. There is always a way for a good teacher to share his or her talents outside of the classroom. Find a way to showcase your talents.

    Being the Best Sub you Can Be:

    Being a quality substitute teacher is one more answer to how to become a teacher. As I mentioned above, the most obvious way to get on the principal’s radar is to substitute. If you truly want a full-time teaching job then pay attention. Every time you sub, you should consider it a job interview. Here is a little punch list of do’s and don’ts:

    • Meet with teachers personally prior to being called in to sub. – This will increase the chances of them calling you when they need a sub.
    • Be on time! - Scratch that, be early!
    • Ask about covering teacher duties. Don’t wait for someone to ask you to help out.
    • Stick to the lesson plans.
    • Do not get caught up in local gossip.
    • Don’t whine about not having a job. Just be happy to be working when you can.A positive demeanor goes a long way.
    • Make it a point to introduce yourself to the principal. Identify yourself / who you are subbing for and express your interest in a full-time position. Don’t hound the principal on every visit. One reminder a quarter is plenty.
    • Be willing to sub for lesser paying jobs, such as assistant teachers and the secretary.

    Professional Development:

    Here is a final tip that most prospective teachers overlook. Many districts offer professional development opportunities. As a substitute you are probably allowed to attend those classes. It is a good idea to take advantage of these opportunities. The knowledge you gain in these trainings will put you on the cutting edge of information in the district and most likely give you an upper hand when interviewing time comes along. And did I mention that most professional development opportunities are taught by administrators? This is a perfect time to network.

    Good Luck!