This week, I thought I would share the positives from the other side of the interview desk. These tips will be helpful to anyone interviewing for a teaching position.
Unique Job Interview
Interviewing for a teaching position is completely different from a business job interview. We are professionals, yes, but as a teacher, your interview has to show you have personality, be able to work with children, be friendly to parents, creative, and the list goes on. The tips on other interview web sites are helpful, but many don’t understand the uniqueness of our positions.
As a teacher we do not make a lot of money, so try looking through your closet before the interview to find an outfit. I really like the ideas from http://theteacherdresscode.com/. I only aspire to look like her! She has a clothing section for teacher interviews.
These were some helpful hints I had found:
A pop of color from a trendy blazer, scarf or shirt( for guys, a sharp stylish tie)
A spring dress with a nice sweater
Nice shoes that were moderately high and stylish (not our regular comfort teaching shoes or the ones you wear out for a fabulous night)
Make sure your shoes and everything looks nice and well kept (I used to work with an IBM contractor in my business days, and he said they would always look at the interviewee shoes. The rationale was, if they couldn’t take care of all the details, they couldn’t take care of IBM’s product) That stayed with me for a number of years.
Tattoos try to cover, and no piercing jewelry showing- policies are different at each school and each principal has their own opinion.
What to Bring
Leave your school tote in the car and bring in just a few items.
April is the month where testing is on our minds. In honor of the testing month of April I am going to share some tips that have helped me tackle the days of testing. This is actually one of my favorite times of the year.
No. 2 Pencils
Ask for donations of Ticonderoga pencils. Parents will send you all different kinds of pencils, but save your Ticonderoga’s for testing time. After years of listening to the whine of the pencil sharpener, I just put this in my wish list at the beginning of the year. Ticonderoga’s are usually on sale in August and September and my parents will usually provide me with plenty of pencils at this time. Testing time is not the time for the cheap, decorated, dollar pencils.
A lot has changed since I started teaching. We used to use the standard bubble sheets and No. 2 pencils, but we now have computers to complete testing. We just started computerized testing last year, and we definitely had some challenges. If testing starts at 8:30, then start the computers 20-30 minutes before. While the computers are starting, (don’t let the students leave until they start the computer), have the students go to the bathroom, get drinks, set up their desk for the test. Have extra computers on the charger turned on in case a laptop dies during the test.
Does allergy season begin the day testing starts? Does someone roll the tests in pollen before they are delivered to the school? The minute the test gets delivered to their desks and everyone gets settled the sniffling begins. I have 8 boxes ready to go that can be delivered to student desks. In fact, in my class if your nose is running my students just put a tissue box at their desk. There is nothing worse than watching a student use their sleeve because they feel they can’t get up.
Attack the Grading Pile
As you get ready for testing in the morning give yourself a little treat by setting up a grading station to grade your papers. The treat is at the end of the week, you don’t have to bring any grading home! Before school starts on the testing day I set up 2 areas ready for grading. One is in the back of the room, and the other is at my desk. My grading station has the papers piled with the answer key. As you are walking the room sit for a while and do a little grading then rotate around to the next grading station.
After the Test
Your students are done with the test and all the other classes around your are still working. Ugggh! How do I keep these kids quiet! I usually plan a quiet activity that my student’s can do that is educational and fun. For 13 years, our big project in 5th grade is to Color and Label the United States. This is a great review before State Reports are assigned. This lasts for the whole week of testing, and they can use the computer or Atlas Book to help them complete the map assignment. I have added this as a free download on my Teachers Pay Teachers site. I size the United States on a legal size paper and run it through the copier.
At my school we have a tradition of State Day. All 5th grade students are assigned a state and they research their state, create a poster, and on State Day they run their “state booth”. The students even wear costumes that represent their state. I have had students dress up as fisherman from Alaska, a Minnie Mouse costume for Florida, and cowboys from Oklahoma. The students bring display items and food for tasting. We tape their poster on the front of the cafeteria benches and invite parents and other grades to come visit in the morning for about 2 hours. It is a great way to show off all of the hard work the students have completed.
Everyone looks forward to this event, but let’s backtrack to the month before the event when the work has to be done! Over the years, I have thought of all of the challenges that this project brings and how to make next years even better.
Challenges of the State Report
For most students this is their first exposure to research and handing them a sheet of paper to fill out through “research” can be daunting.
Answering the same question repeatedly
Even though you explained it in whole group, and everyone seemed to be listening, you end up answering the same question 25 times. I think I answered the question, “What is a natural resource?” 400 times in my career. Maddening I tell you!
Now it’s all done and how do I grade this gigantic project that’s worth a huge portion of this quarter’s grade. If the kid bombed they can never recover.
Weekends are filled with the task of grading this huge project. No teacher likes to go home and grade. We need weekends off!
Redesigning the State Report Template
As much as I loved State Day; I just dreaded this project. I set off to create a State Report that addressed the 3 challenges that I had identified. Each page of the research tells the students what is expected of them and has point allocations at the top of the page. This part can be cut off for display.
For those maddening questions, I answered repeatedly, I put an explanation under the question. I give an example of what is a natural resource, natural disaster, census etc..
The last part was to streamline the grading process. As the students complete each research page they sign up on the board to meet with me for grading of that page. I meet with students and check off the points. I keep a running score with the rubric form for each student. This helps if the project is taking a long time I can enter points for each page in the gradebook. This can also help me to be the time manager and ensure a student isn’t falling behind on the project. Parents expect a completed project and poster on State Day, and having a poster partially completed can be awkward. Yes, this has happened!
I created Learning in an Hour as the store where teaching products are developed to be completed in a 1 hour block of time, or more. I also wanted to create projects that were easy to grade in the classroom. I have taught for 13 years and love to be in the classroom, but many weekends were spent with my tub of grading. I have tried every trick in the book to manage the ever increasing grading pile. At the end of the day, there may be 30 minutes away from teaching, duties and meetings that I could dedicate to the grading pile. That was just not enough time with emails, questions from coworkers, etc.
The only way I have been able to manage the grading has been meeting with students and grading before their eyes during class. This allows for immediate feedback, ability to correct work, and clarification of student expectations. My goal is to help teachers spend less time grading and more time enjoying their weekends.