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Friday, July 6, 2012

How to Ace Your Interview for a Teaching Position


This post could be subtitled “Show me the Money!” You see, I’ve hired a good number of teachers over the years, and, while I’ve hired some top-notch teachers, I’ve also been burned a few times (BTW, I consider being burned once “too many”).  



As an educational leader, I need to ensure that all students in my building have access to a great teacher.  Not just good, great.  In the past I’ve relied mainly on responses to interview questions to determine who would be a good teacher.  Sure, I asked for writing samples and examples from class and questions about development and lesson planning and so on.  But I very rarely asked for demonstrations, prototypes, or products.



This hiring season, that’s all going to change.  My new motto is, “Show me the money.”  If you interview with me, you better be able to demonstrate that you have the skills to help students be successful 21st century learners.  I’m no longer interested in answering the question, “Can you teach?”  Anyone with an overhead projector can stand up and ‘teach.’  What I want to know is can you use the latest technology and methodology to facilitate learning, collaboration, problem solving, and creative thinking?



Because we are living in a digital world I don’t want to see this stuff in a three-ring binder with a cute cover.  I want you to use digital tools, the same ones your students will use in class, to demonstrate why I should hire you.  Here’s what I want to see (feel free to comment about anything you want to show me that I left out).



1) Your professional Social Media persona.  



What you don’t have a professional SM presence?  Well why not?  Every teacher and administrator should have, at a minimum, a professional Twitter and Facebook page.  If you have access you should also sign up for Edmodo and may consider Google+ which is growing, especially among professionals.  I want to see how you are interacting with parents and students.  I want to see who is in your personal learning network (PLN) - in other words, who you are learning from.  I want to see how you augment what’s going on in the classroom.  



I do not want to see your personal Facebook page or Twitter stream. Your personal and professional lives should be chronicled on separate pages.  Facebook will not allow you to create two accounts but as a teacher Facebook will allow you to set up Page (formerly Fan Pages or Groups).  All you have to do is click on Create a Page on the login page (highlighted).  The page will automatically be connected to your account.



Creating a page rather than an account will enable you to communicate with students and parents without friending them (I never recommending friending students).  Twitter allows you to have more than one handle so there’s no problem there.



2) Your blog.



I believe everyone should write.  Having a blog forces you to work out and organize your thoughts and ideas.  You can blog about any aspect of your professional life.  If you’re looking for your first teaching gig blog about what you plan to do when you get your own classroom, what you did as a student teacher, or about great teachers.  Write about methodology, pedagogy, or any other ‘ogy’ you can think of.  Write about your challenges and your successes.  Write about anything. Just write.  Wordpress, Blogger, and Edublogs all have excellent and free blogging tools.  My only word of caution with blogging is to keep student information confidential, you don’t want to wind up on the 6 o’clock news because you wrote about Sammy’s bloody nose, bad behavior, or poor test grade.



3) Your digital portfolio.



I also want to see everything else you’ve created on-line, your web projects, your student videos, your animotos, your Vimeos, and even your VoiceThreads but I don’t want to spend the entire interview typing web addresses so make sure you pull everything together into one site.  Sites like Flavors.me, Glogster and Scoop.it will allow you to pull from many web sources that way during the interview I only have to type in one address and you can guide me through your digital life.  



And if you’ll allow me just one more …



4) Your email.



After the interview I may want to email you. That’s why now is the perfect time to set a professional email account.  Call me old school but when I see a candidate’s email address as, “cutebunnies1972@something.com” or “camaroguy@somethingelse.com” or even, god forbid, “hotandsexy69@inappropriate.com” it really makes my skin crawl.  As a hiring manager my thoughts immediately jump to whether or not you have the maturity to handle a classroom.  Email is free.  Set up an account with some variant of your name and use that for all professional correspondence.



Good Luck!


Scott A. Ziegler has 20 Years of experience in public education having served as a teacher, school administrator, and district level administrator.  He is life-long learner, lover of all things tech,  devoted husband, father of five, and weekend adventure seeker.  He also practices what he writes and invites you to connect via his blog, Twitter, Facebook (under construction), Linkin, or Flavors.

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