Sunday, June 7, 2020

Teacher Resumes: Get that interview!

You know the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover?” Well, that doesn’t apply to resumes! Not getting the interviews you want? It may be the resume! Follow these makeover tips for teaching positions!

Q: I’m thinking of buying a resume template. Should I?

A: Go for it! You can have the old school black and white resume, but in the world of digital applications, highly polished looking resumes do catch the administrator’s eye. You could get a free one at Canva. Etsy also has some great resume templates that are not at all expensive that you can use for the rest of your life so why not invest! Do buy one with a light background as hiring committees will often need to print out resumes and you don’t want to cost a bunch of toner!

Tip: Make sure if you are a teacher who applies to both elementary and secondary positions that your resume doesn’t skew too much on the elementary side of things. Better to go neutral/professional.

Q: What sort of template is best?

A: Get one with a bar along the side! This was the advice given to me by an assistant superintendent and now that I’m on the other side of the hiring table, I 110% see what she meant! The bar makes it easy to quickly see an applicant is qualified. At minimum, your bar should have:

  1. Contact information
  2. Certifications – include (pending) next to any cert you’re still waiting to hear about or currently signed up to take
  3. Expertise (if you don’t yet have a career or are only a couple years into your teaching career, label this as “Strengths”)
  4. Education

I would suggest putting it in that exact order. Certs are way more important than what your major was. I assume if someone is certified to teach, they have a bachelors. And if they are certified for library or some other masters required position, they have a masters. Mention any cert required for the position. Certs for PDs can be expressed in the expertise section or in a separate section.

Expertise is where you really get to highlight what you excel in. If an ELA teacher, I write “reading/writing workshop” if I was a department head I may write “Department Leadership” if I’m instructionally tech savvy, I may write “Instructional Technology” or “Blended Learning”. What 3-4 things could you mentor someone on? That’s what you include! If you don’t have teaching experience, that doesn’t mean you don’t have strengths. It may be during student teaching you were really good at building rapport with students. It may be that you are great at multitasking or having positive attitude or being patient.

Additional sidebar topics: Presentation Experience, Accolades, Volunteer Experience, Published Work, Trainings, etc.


Q: How many bullet points should I put for each position and what do I include?

A: Add 4-6 skills (anything positions not really relevant 2-3) per position.  We all know you lesson planned and taught and had classroom management. Don’t waste a lot of time describing what a teacher does. Instead think about what set you apart as an educator? Your description should show what you find important and what you are passionate about. For example, one of the things that is most important to me as an ELA teacher is that my class was a community of writers where they could take risks and straight up cry in front of each other.

Original: Managed a classroom of students and enforced district and campus expectations.

BORING!!! And no heart! Teacher, what drives you?

Revised: Built classroom communities and employed classroom management that focused on respect and trust.

Think about all the information I just gave in that description. I was able to convey some major information about my philosophy of teaching and shared with the hiring committee two important values I hold.

Write with heart! Have a hard time writing with heart? Write out a list of your values as an educator before you revise. Then as you revise think to yourself “how can I incorporate those values?” Like if a science teacher said an important value is creating students who wonder about the world. They would write something like “Facilitated labs designed to promote inquiry and foster a sense of wonder about the world” That really says a lot about a student-centered approach and who the teacher is in their heart.

Q: All my positions are teaching the same grade level and content area. How do I keep from repeating myself?

A: Don’t be redundant. Put your major points in your first description. And secondary points in your second description. Tertiary points in your third.

Q: What do I look for when I revise my resume?

A: Now that you’ve written with heart, you will revise for job description. Print our your resume. Print out the job description. For each part of your resume that matches the job description, highlight it in the resume. For each part of the job description not in the resume, highlight it in the job description. Ideally, you would have your whole resume highlighted (aka everything is useful) and none of the job description highlighted (aka your resume addresses all parts of the job description). However, if there are parts of your resume without highlighting this may be something you need to delete. If there are parts of the job description highlighted, this is something you need to add.

You don’t have to add with a completely new bullet. Let’s say that the job description has something about communicating with parents. Look to see if you have a bullet already written where this could go perfectly. So if there is a bullet you wrote “Continuously monitor student performance and adjust lessons to meet the individual needs of students” you could add to that bullet “while communicating to parents where students are in their progression of acquiring skills”. It doesn’t have to be it’s own bullet.

Q: What are rookie mistakes on a resume?

A: Here’s the list:

  •           Grammar and spelling mistakes
  •           Not updated with the most recent experiences
  •           No resume at all.
  •           Your contact email is a district email you are trying to leave. *face palm* Get a neutral gmail account for free instead.
  •           Only being on a campus 1-2 years max before switching – if this is a pattern on a resume I get concerned
  •           3 pages long but you’ve only taught at 1 school – we don’t need non-teaching experiences once you have teaching experience!
  •           Not including the campus you worked at

Q: I’m trying to make a big career change and I have no experience teaching students the target age.

What can I do for my resume?

A: Get yourself experience with that age group ASAP and put it on your resume. You can do it as a job: summer camp for the age group, tutor, work for a place like Kumon or Sylvan. But an easy way to build up experience AND show you have a servant’s heart is volunteering! Volunteer as a youth leader at your church, for a local summer camp, or as a coach for a local youth sports league. Even call up local organizations or businesses that host camps/lessons for students the right age with the right content area and ask if there are volunteer opportunities. Those places love to host summer camps! And this could be a great reference for you!

 If you've gotten all the way to the end, thank you! Want some feedback on your resume, reach out to me below in a comment. I'm happy to help!


Sunday, March 25, 2018

5 Interview Tips for Teachers

Your resume and cover letter has netted you a face-to-face interview or you are off to a job fair! Time to polish your elevator speech and brush up on your interview skills with these 5 quick tips.

1. Have your elevator speech ready to go. Typically the first question in an interview is a "tell me a bit about yourself". This is an opportunity to control that first impression in a compact 60 second elevator speech. Remember that the interviewer already has your resume so this 60 second speech serves two functions: it tells the interviewers what to focus on and communicates what you find important. This is the opportunity to infuse the faces with the story. Your elevator speech should leave a strong sense of what you value be it life-long learning, servant leadership, overcoming obstacles, etc.

2. Determine what 3 anecdotes or examples you want to bring up in the interview. Practice telling them succinctly. Was there a particular student who you worked with in order to meet their needs? Perhaps there was a particularly poignant lesson that made a lasting impact. Know these three and then look for opportunities to use these in the interview. Which leads me to the next one....

3. Answer your questions with examples to support. Anyone can say they differentiate or collaborate well with peers, but if you answer textbook answers, it shows you know the correct answer on a test, not anything about you and how you fit in the school culture. Savvy principals are
looking for people who will fit the campus and sometimes a specific team of teachers. Giving examples not only helps the leader determine who you are, it will help show your passion as you talk. Besides, if you merely answer all the questions with textbook answers, the interview will be very short and awkward! You have to come prepared to illustrate you walk the walk not just talk the talk.

4. Avoid anything and everything that sounds like criticism. Don't criticize bosses, coworkers, parents, students, or even yourself. Negativity can be caustic on a campus and impact peers, so principals tend to avoid any potential employee who seem critical of others. This doesn't mean you can't show reflective thinking. In fact, acknowledging that after students were not successful you reflected upon your own practices, sought out resources to improve, and enacted a plan to make students successful is exactly what good educators do. But there is a line between reflection and criticism.

5. Practice, practice, practice. Pull up a list of potential interview questions from a number of sources and practice the answers. This will help you sound more confident when speaking. Don't try to memorize the exact phrases. you don't want to sound rehearsed, but you also don't want to fumble your way through a question. It is okay to stop and think before answering a few questions, but to it on every question and you may come off ill-prepared or a slow thinker.

Bonus: The dreaded "What is your greatest weakness?" Personally, I hate this question because people have to prepare for it which makes the responses usually canned and I'm not convinced it does the interview committee any favors. So think instead what is the purpose of this question. Is it really to find out someones weakness? Probably not. At best it can show reflective practices and areas of growth. I feel it is better to highlight a past area that needed growth and how you sought out resources and monitored your growth. Then connect to a hypothetical area that will be the weakness and how you would expect yourself to work just as hard on making strides so it isn't a weakness. For example, if you are going to a new District, the area for growth would be learning the procedures and policies of that District. Explain that will be something you focus on and outline how you expect to grow in that regard. Or it may be a new school with a new team. A new grade level or content area. If trying to gain a higher position on your current campus, it will be learning the components of that position while still serving well.

What interview questions have you stumped? What's some good advice you've heard? Comment below!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Gamification Lite in Schoology

It's easy go get into a routine in both physical and digital classrooms, but sometimes all that you need to increase the energy and engagement in the class is just to rethink how you frame a lesson. Recently, I did a gamification of a lesson in Schoology. Gamification means that you are doing something during the learning process - for a student or PD - that has components of games. It can be points and badging or choosing your own adventure. Sometimes the commit to create or implement these lessons is a bit to much. So how can you use some gamification when you either don't have the time or want to just test out the waters?

It's all about framing the lesson. We were in the midst of a Photoshop unit with my students the week before Thanksgiving. Students had been asking me how they could remove things from photos the weeks before so I decided to incorporate those skills with a Thanksgiving theme and frame it in such a way there were gamification qualities. Students were given a mission: save turkeys by camouflaging photos of turkeys with patch and stamp tools. I created a mission, a social component where fellow students "hunted" for the camouflaged birds, and then a vote at the end on who was the best at camouflaging turkeys. Students even earned a gif badge named "Turkey-tastic!" with a roving turkey. The ridiculousness of a turkey gif was a huge hit with my 7th graders.

The set up of a mission takes maybe 1-2 minutes extra of what would be the normal directions:

The Schoology magic in this case really came from my ability to unpublish the folder that had all the images of the turkeys (Step 2) after students had downloaded their assigned image. When it is a game, people want to win and even when playing a video game people use cheat codes or leaked walkthroughs.

I also disabled the Step 5 turkey hunt until the majority of students had uploaded. Again, to keep anyone from trying to be tricky. I LOVE how easy it was to toggle these things on and off for each class. I spent maybe 1-2 minutes turning them off each period so a grand total of 10-15 minutes maybe?

Don't forget your badge! It seems so simple but the kids really do love it. It took me maybe all of 2 minutes to make and assign.

So there you have it, add in some gamification elements into your course in under 20 minutes and watch the students forget they are learning.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Learned Helplessness and Blended Learning: Removing the Teacher as Crutch

Before I began my Blended Learning Journey, I knew I would have to combat learned helplessness since some go immediately to the teacher to ask questions of what to do or how to do something.
In a blended learning classroom some of the instruction, including directions, is online, so I figured I'd see an uptick in questions directed my way that were not content-related. Preemptively, before they begin their stations or online work, I remind them: "Ask 3 before me: group/partner, directions, Google" 

However, I wasn't quite prepared for the level of helplessness some students exhibit. I'll have students call me over and ask "What do I do?" When I ask if they have read the directions or watched the direction video, I'm gobsmacked when they tell me "no" and then look at me, waiting, I assume, for me to tell them what to do.

Now, I'm all for helping students who need other ways of receiving directions or need me to reword directions. That is part of differentiation and differentiation is why I believe so strongly in blended learning. But I also know my campus mission: We will prepare every child to become independent, growth-minded servant leaders. That I build up that child's capacity to be independent is a key part of his or her future success.

It is my job, then, as an educator to respond to a child with the cognitive process that I want the child to internally adopt. Therefore, I've learned to change the question I ask. Instead of "Have your read the directions and asked a peer?" I'm asking: "How can you figure it out? What resources in Schoology can help you?"

And guess what? My students who were chronic "What do I do?" students are starting to make the shift! It's taking a little time for them to figure out when they need to ask to get support versus when their asking is actually causing a hindrance, but we are getting there.

What do you do in your class to grow independent learners?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Moving Toward Mastery: Schoology Test/Quizzes Options

The point of grades is not to put grades in the grade book anymore than the point of school is to get A's. Assessments provide feedback to both teachers and students. For teachers, we take the feedback to be responsive in our lessons and reteach and reengage depending on that data. But what is it we want students to do with this feedback? 

Sometimes we are so focused on using assessments as teachers we can lose sight of what we want students to do: learn. Therefore, I purpose utilizing some of the settings in Schoology to provide feedback to students so they can get immediate feedback on their learning and reenter the assessment to correct mistakes that way they are working toward mastery.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Oral Administration in Schoology

Some of my students have accommodations for oral reading. I am loving Schoology's ability to record my voice for them.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Litterarti App for Green Initiatives (plus a padlet hack for younger students)

The idea behind Litterarti is simple: see litter? Take an artistic picture of it, share, and then throw the piece of litter in the recycle bin or trash bin depending on what it is.

This is an awesome app to promote during April, on Earth Day, or by the school's green club.

I was so excited when I heard about this from Katy Noelle Scott at ISTE 2017. I quickly looked at the user agreement and saw it was for 13+, which means I can't use it at my middle school. So I came up with a Padlet hack that not only works across all devices without an app to install, but also can let me moderate the images.

To make the Padlet, I created on in my account. You can even use the shelf feature if you want grades to compete against one another or just to organize the data.

In settings, I made sure the most recent was first.

Under the Share feature, I toggled on moderation. This would prevent pranksters from posting anything scandalous. (See image below)

Directions were included at the top. You can easily put a link on the school website, as a QR code, and/or customize a Tiny URL to make it easy for students to post. Create a quick video of how to use it for the morning announcements and add some incentives, including sharing some of the best from that week on the announcements.