May is the month for both endings and beginnings. For college graduates and student teachers, it is the month of commencement, which includes saying goodbye to college life and your very first students and saying hello to a job search which you hope will be fruitful. What advice can this 37 year veteran offer?
First, I hope you had a wonderful student teaching experience. Mine was January until May in 1974, and I still remember the faces and the student names as listed on each class period’s seating chart. I had three different cooperating teachers, and each one offered such important advice and knowledge that I use through my entire career. The three main lessons I learned were Confidence, Communication, and Creativity, which ironically, became the three C’s in my new book, Rittman Rules! A Practical Guide for Student Teaching, which is being edited before being sent to print, even as I write this blog. Having a valuable and important student teaching experience changes you as a person, and I think that experience renews your desire to teach and have your own classroom. But how can you do that?
I know that all resumes and applications in today’s world are on the Internet, but when you have your chance for an interview, please allow your positive self and experience to show! Do NOT attempt to curb your enthusiasm and passion for teaching. You know the average questions to expect, but sneak in some “I” statements which show your love for the profession, not to brag, but to share the great experience you had and to show your desire to be a team player in the school building. I always tell student teachers that having an avocation – coaching, directing, student council experience, etc.- are all little extras that just might help you to snag a permanent position. During your interview, try to speak up about any “extras” you have to offer. When I was first hired at Penn Hills, I co-directed the ninth grade play during my two years there. They needed a director, and that was one of my skills.
Let everyone know about your passion for teaching. Positive exuberance may lead to an interview in a roundabout way. You never know when a person who is listening and knows someone in an important position, and that person may be impressed with your energy and excitement and pass your name along. Although this sounds crazy, it happens all the time. Life is a series of happy coincidences. In the meantime, get your foot in the door by substitute teaching. Give your best effort in the classroom which you are guest teaching, and I guarantee that you will be noticed.
Best of luck in your search for a position! Keep loving teaching!
Rittman Publishing, LLC
Rittman Publishing, LLC