Applying for a Teaching Job
You will develop several communication tools for the job search. Your letter, résumé, and credential file are the basic tools of communicating your qualifications to an employer. Writing letters and developing your résumé and completing your credential file are very important communication tools as they are used to attract the interest and attention of a hiring official to the point where you will be selected for an interview. Make an appointment with Career Services to discuss methods to improve your job search skills.
Interview jitters can be dealt with by signing up for a mock interview. Mock interviews provide students with an opportunity to practice their interviewing skills in an individual session with a career professional.
A letter of application, a letter of inquiry, and a thank you/follow-up letter are the three most common types of letters used in a job search. Like the résumé, cover letters/application letters create important first impressions.
Cover letter/Letter of application. A letter of application is sent when you are applying for a position that has been advertised. It should be no more than one page in length. The purpose of the letter is to indicate your interest in the position and to introduce your qualifications to the employer. A clear, concise letter written in short paragraphs for ease in reading is usually most effective. An individual letter of application should be written for each job for which you apply. It is important to personalize and target your letter by relating your experiences, education, and goals to the particular position in which you are interested. Be sure to check out the district's website. The more you know about the school district the easier it will be to write a letter pertinent to the district's needs. Indicate that credentials are being forwarded from the Education Department and always express a willingness to come for a personal interview.
Letter of inquiry. A letter of inquiry may be sent to determine if a teaching vacancy exists. The purpose of this letter is to inquire if the school district has, or anticipates having, a teaching vacancy in your area and to introduce your qualifications to the employer. This letter is not mailed in response to an advertised position. Letters of inquiry should be sent out as early as January or February.
A letter of inquiry is used primarily to contact school administrators in your geographic area of preference. This letter is especially useful if you are limited to a very small geographic area. Mass mailings of letters of inquiry however, have not proven to be very successful. If you will be using a letter of inquiry, a helpful but somewhat expensive approach is to include a self-addressed stamped post card with your letter. On the post card, the employer is asked to check a response (no vacancy; will consider if vacancy develops, send credentials; have vacancy-will consider; have vacancy-will interview).
Thank you letter/Follow-up letter. After any contact with a school administrator, a follow-up letter should be written. For example, a follow-up letter should be written in response to an administrator's letter, or an interview at a school district. The content of the letter may inform the administrator of any action you have taken on a certain matter; or, the letter may be thanking the administrator for an interview. This letter is written as a gesture of courtesy and to express continued interest in the position. Teaching candidates who write a follow-up letter are often hired rather than someone who did not take the time to do so.
A résumé is another important communication tool used by you to inform an employer of your qualifications. The résumé is a brief account of who you are, where you can be contacted, and what educational and work experiences you have had.
Don't use a resume template. Starting from scratch will help you to think through what you need to include and how to arrange your past experience to show the potential employer what a great fit you would be for the position.
A résumé should be used:
- when applying for a job with a letter of application.
- when applying for a job with a letter of inquiry.
- as a source of information in an interview.
- As a "calling card" when making personal contacts.
Click on words to open a file of action verbs, self-descriptive words, and descriptive terms that may be used in a resume. Each bullet in the resume should begin with an action verb.
A résumé and a letter of application or a letter of inquiry, complement each other. A résumé highlights education and experience, while a letter informs the prospective employer about what has been learned and developed from education and experience. When applying for a teaching position, a letter and a résumé should be sent together. Always bring a résumé with you to an interview, as an interviewer may use it to question you about your background and experiences.
Application Form Questions
More and more districts have you complete the application process on-line. However, for those districts which mail you application materials, it is recommended you photocopy all application forms before and after you have completed them. You should photocopy the form before you fill it out so if you make an error while filling out the form, you have an additional form to use. Since many of the questions appear on more than one application form, photocopying completed forms will save you time if a question appears on more than one application form.
An interview is the opportunity for you to present your qualifications in person to the employer. Your responses to questions and your performance in the interview will likely make the difference on whether or not you are offered the position. Therefore, it is very important for you to plan for interviews and practice interviewing.
The employer takes several items into consideration during the interview:
- communication skills
- knowledge of the subject area
You must concentrate on presenting a professional image throughout the interview. Be sincere, be honest, be yourself, and BE PREPARED!
After the interview always send a thank you letter to the recruiter, both as a professional courtesy and as a method of establishing communication with the school district.
The letter should be mailed within one day of your interview.
More school employers are using behavior based interviewing (BBI) questions during an interview. Behavior based questions are built on the knowledge base of teaching and teaching experience, and on the abilities needed for the position. Answers should be clear and concise. When answering such a question respond with a short description of the problem or situation, the action taken, and the result. Below are samples of Behavior Based Interview Questions. Although you will not be asked all of these questions, preparing responses to this listing will assist you in preparing for the interview. (BBI) Questions taken from NACE Journal, Spring 2004) Also refer to the 2013 Job Search Handbook for Educators by the American Association for Employment in Education.
Content knowledge and curriculum
1. What are some math skills that students in your classroom have learned?
2. Describe a two-week unit that you have taught.
3. Tell me about a lesson on ______ that went well.
4. How have you integrated writing skills into your curriculum.
Methods of Planning and Teaching
1. Describe a lesson plan that exceeded your expectations when you taught it.
2. Describe a lesson that did not succeed and how you would change it for a future class.
3. How have you ensured coverage of state-mandated standards into your planning?
Classroom Organization and Management
1. Describe an experience you have had becoming established with a new group of students?
2. What rules and rewards have worked in your classroom in the past?
3. Describe a conflict you encountered with a student and how you dealt with it.
Homework and Grading
1. Describe a grading policy that has worked well in the past.
2. How have you assessed student achievement informally without grading?
3. Tell me about a typical homework assignment in your class.
Meeting Student Needs
1. How have you modified assignments for gifted or special education students?
2. What are some strategies for teaching your subject to students who may not be good listeners?
3. Describe an experience where you identified a student's special need and modified a lesson for that individual.
1. Share an example of a communication with a parent that helped you to understand a student in your class.
2. Describe a time when you team-taught or co-planned with a colleague.
3. Tell about a time when you asked an administrator or teacher for help.
1. What parts of your teacher education training do you use on a regular basis?
2. How have memberships in professional organizations or attendance at conferences and workshops improved your teaching?
3. What have you read recently that led to an improvement in your classroom?
Other questions sometimes asked of teaching candidates are listed below.
- Describe those personal qualities which you feel would make you a vital member of our staff. Indicate some of the principle ways you motivate students.
- Describe some of the most productive teaching techniques you have used or would use to meet the instructional/educational needs of your students.
- Describe what you consider to be your greatest professional attribute.
- What do you want to accomplish as a teacher?
- How will (do) you go about finding out about students' attitudes and feelings about your class?
- An experienced teacher offers you the following advice: "When you are teaching, be sure to command the respect of your students immediately and all will go well." How do you feel about this?
- How do you go about deciding what it is that should be taught in your class?
- A parent comes to you and complains that what you are teaching his child is irrelevant to the child's needs. How would you respond?
- What do you think will (does) provide you the greatest pleasure in teaching?
- Do you like to teach with an overall plan in mind for the year, or would you rather teach some interesting things and let the process determine the results? Explain your position.
- A student is doing poorly in your class. You talk to him/her, and he/she tells you the he/she considers you to be the poorest teacher he/she has ever met. What would you do?
- What would you like to be doing five years from now?
- When you have some free time, what do you enjoy doing the most?
- Would you rather try a lot of way-out teaching strategies or would you rather try to perfect the approaches which work best for you? Explain your position.
- If there were absolutely no restrictions placed upon you, what would you most want to do in life?
- What are your three most important reasons for wanting to be a teacher?
- How much do you want to know about your students in order to be most helpful to them?
- What three things do you most want to know about your students?
- How do you design an overall lesson for your class?
- What four key components do you believe you must include in your plan?
- When you think about your students, in what major ways do you most want to influence their lives? What two core teaching strategies do you most use to achieve this result?
- What are three (3) important reasons why you would like to provide leadership in co-curricular activities?
- Explain what you believe to be the relationship between curricular and co-curricular activities.
- What are three (3) "underlying principles" for a coach to follow when working with students in co-curricular activities?
- List three (3) things you want your students to obtain as a result of participation in CO-curricular activities?
- Please give examples that demonstrate the diversity of your interests and experiences. Include especially, examples of leadership roles you have held.
- Please give examples of your best accomplishments in providing for the individual learning needs of students.
- Please give examples of your best accomplishments in creating a positive learning environment for students in your classroom.
- Please give examples of your best accomplishments in using positive, constructive disciplinary approaches with students in your classroom.
- Please give examples of your best accomplishments in organizing and planning for student learning.
- Please describe the current teaching/learning theories with which you are familiar, and give some examples of how you have used these theories with students in the classroom.
- Please give examples of your best accomplishments in establishing and maintaining positive relationships with each of the following: students, parents, and colleagues.
- Name three words that describe yourself. Give three words others would use to describe you.
- What do you consider your best quality?
- Tell me three strengths you possess.
- What is one personal characteristic you would like to change? Why?
- How do you relax?
- Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on organization.
- When you were considering different colleges, why did you choose Cornell College?
- Describe the courses that you most enjoyed at Cornell, and explain why.
- What is your philosophy of education?
- List the qualities of an exceptional educator.
What skills and qualities do you think an excellent teacher should possess?
- What person or experience influenced you most to consider teaching as a career?
- What personal experiences do you think have best prepared you for teaching?
- Give an example of how you would use cooperative learning in your classroom.
- What rules do you have for your classroom?
- Describe your guidelines for establishing discipline in your classroom.
Questions to Ask at an Interview
In addition to responding to the interviewer's questions, you will normally be asked if you have any questions about the school/school system or the specific position for which you are interviewing. Remember, the interview is a two-way process. You should want to learn about the school system and the community. It is always a good idea to ask at least two or three pertinent questions as a means of demonstrating your genuine interest in the position and your maturity as an applicant. Questions relating to salary and benefits should be deferred until subsequent stages of the selection process. At this stage, you may wish to inquire about:
- How are teachers evaluated within your school system?
- What is the retention rate among teachers within your school system?
- the teacher inservice program.
- What trends in education are evident in your school system?
- What makes your school system different from other schools?
- What are the school system's strengths?
- What are some of the positive aspects of the community?
- What are your expectations for new teachers?
- What do you personally like about your school system?
- What qualities are you looking for in a new teacher?
- What characteristics do the successful teachers within your school possess?
- Have there been any teacher layoffs in recent years?
- For coaches: How important is winning?
- What is the relationship between the community and the school.
- Are parents active in PTA?
- The make-up of the school board and recent policies mandated by the board.
- Major problems/challenges facing the school system.
- The school's philosophy regarding grades, retention, etc.
- What courses are offered and required in your major teaching area?
- What is the composition of the teaching staff?
- Auxiliary services (e.g. guidance, reading, special education, speech and hearing, etc.)
- Class size and teaching schedule.
- Instructional materials.
- Policies and procedures concerning teacher evaluation and appraisal.
- Opportunities for professional growth. Does the district or nearest school cooperative offer faculty inservice training days during the school year?
At the conclusion of the interview, most interviewers will indicate when you will be contacted regarding possible additional interviews and will explain the selection process used by their particular school system. However, if this information is not volunteered, be certain to inquire about when you might expect further contact about your status as an applicant.
As internet access grows each day, many public and private schools as well as state Departments of Education have formed job banks to assist schools with filling teaching, support staff, and administrative positions. Listed below are some of these Internet websites. (Links to these internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement)
Cornell Career Network
The Cornell Career Network is designed to help students and alumni log in and find out about full-time, part-time or summer employment opportunities.
search features include:
- search for positions by zone and category
- online application
- online resources
search features include:
- send applications to specific school districts
- applicants submitting their online applications to IAREAP may also post their resumes on USREAP, which gives them national exposure.
Vacancies sponsored by the American Association of Employment in Education. This is a free service for Cornellians as Cornell is a member of AAEE.
Agent K-12 is the a comprehensive online and print K-12 recruitment solution. Produced by the publishers of Education Week, Teacher Magazine and Edweek.org.
Boarding School Review
Offers free, detailed information on US boarding schools combined with useful community data (e.g., housing costs)and maps of the surrounding areas.
California Education Information Network
Vacancies from more than 85% of the medium and large school districts. Financially supported by the California County Superintendents Education Services Association.
Carney Sandoe and Associates
A recruitment service for independent, charter and like-kind schools all over the United States and the world since 1977.
1,000s of teaching and education job opportunities from public and private schools from across the U.S. Free to search, browse and register!
- interactive searchable resource
- four categories: administrators, teacher and other certified support staff, non-certified support staff and out-of-state administrator.
Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency
Metro RESA serving 11 metro Atlanta school systems includes:
-critical teacher shortage areas on-line application form
-links to numerous educational sites
National Association for Independent Schools Online Career Center
More than 1,200 independent elementary and secondary schools across the country post teaching and administrative jobs on the Career Center.
National Public School and School District Locator
Gives demographics of school districts throughout the United States.
*Type in only name of town and state to receive most information.
National School District Information Websites
directory information for school districts across the nation
Private School Review:
Offers free, detailed information on US private schools combined with useful community data (e.g., housing costs)and maps of the surrounding areas.
Public School Review
Offers free, detailed information on US public schools combined with useful community data (e.g., housing costs)and maps of the surrounding areas.
Search for vacancies by salary, location, and/or area of expertise. When you find a position you like, you can contact the school directly to apply. You can submit your resume, which will be available for schools to inspect. If a school wants to talk to you, they can contact you directly. Schools can list job openings and search for potential candidates in the active resumes.
Search vacancies from all around the country in one easy search. Search by location, grade, category or job type.
In partnership with NEA, NABSE and Kappa Delta Pi. Teachers-Teachers.com is a user-friendly FREE website where you can quickly complete an online job application, apply for available positions, and track your job search process. View job postings from 1,908 school systems and private schools nationwide. As a member of Teachers-Teachers.com, you can connect with school systems in two ways. You can: Search through job postings and email your application to hiring schools or Post your application and wait for recruiters to find and contact you.
Teach in Taiwan
The Iowa Department of Education has implemented an agreement with the Ministry of the Republic of China (Taiwan) that will offer experienced and newly licensed Iowa elementary teachers the opportunity to teach in Taiwanese schools for one academic year. Participants work with local Taiwanese teachers to develop curriculum and teach English to elementary students. Applications will be processed and recommendations made by the Iowa Department of Education.
A world-wide directory of teaching jobs from around the world. Upload your resume, search and browse jobs for free.
Teachers@Work, National Educators Employment Network
Teachers@Work is the selected Internet recruitment resource for schools in Colorado and Virginia as well as individual schools and districts in 40 other states. It is a free resource for teachers to post their educational credentials and other specialties on line for schools nation wide to view. An automatic email will be sent to schools seeking teachers with matching credentials, and teachers will receive automatic emails of new matching jobs as they are posted by schools.
University of Northern Iowa (UNI) National Educator's Expo. School Districts from around the Untied States come to this fair to recruit teachers. Free to all educators.
University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Overseas Fair:
Offering services since 1976, the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Overseas Placement Service for Educators, a program area of UNI Academic Advising and Career Services, connects international K-12 schools with certified educators year round. Services offered include the UNI Overseas Recruiting Fair, credential and referral services, and related publications. UNI is home to the original international fair for educators. We are committed to providing personal attention and quality service to all of our constituents. We do NOT charge placement fees to candidates or recruiting schools.
a non-profit consortium of states committed to facilitating the placement of teachers and other educational candidates.
As a WorldTeach volunteer teacher, you will witness firsthand the challenges and rewards of education in a developing country. You will share the skills and knowledge gained through your education and life experience with students who have not had the same advantages, and you will make a concrete and lasting difference in their lives.