How to Get Your First Teaching Job Interview

You aced your education courses and student teaching. Now it’s time to find some students to teach!

Finding your first teaching job can seem like an impossible task. For every one job that is advertised, there can be hundreds of applications. Many school districts don’t advertise their open positions at all, and those that do usually start the interview process by looking at the applications they already have on file.

For this reason, I would skip the education job boards and classified ads and get right to sending your application to every single school district in your area, regardless if they are advertising for teachers or not. Openings pop up all the time, so you need to get your application in front of as many eyes as possible. In the remainder of this article I will explain the process I recommend to aspiring teachers.

Step 1: Secure Solid References

When applying for a teaching job, you should have at least three solid references that can speak about your teaching ability. You do not want to use personal friends or family members. Your cooperating teacher and college professors make the best references. You should have received a letter of recommendation from your cooperating teacher before the end of your student teacher. But if not, make sure you contact them immediately to get one.

Former professors also make great references. I have found that most professors are usually more than happy to write letters of recommendation if asked (It makes them feel remembered!). So just email or call a couple of your former professors and ask them to write a quick letter attesting to what a great teacher you will be.

Step 2: Secure All Documents and Paperwork

Now that you have your references, you should make sure you have all necessary documents and paperwork needed to apply for a teaching job in your state.

Depending on your state, documents needed for a teaching job include a copy of your teaching application, your resume, your teaching certification, and your letters of recommendation. I also suggest including your college or university diploma, one or two of your best lesson plans (from student teaching), and a copy of your criminal background check and any other clearances your state might require.

You will be making multiple photocopies of each of the above documents and including them in an application packet. But for now, set them aside and move on to the next step.

Step 3: Create/Refine Resume

If you’re a new teacher, your teacher resume should be simple and highlight your student teaching and education. Make sure you list any substitute teaching that you have done. Also include any tutoring you have offered. Even if you haven’t worked as paid tutor, I’m sure you have tutored someone privately or in a one-on-one situation. A tip would be to list those experiences as “Private Tutoring” along with student teaching on your resume filling in any gaps you might have.

Step 4: Create a Cover Letter

For this case, our cover letter is going to be general. I’m not going to go into details on writing a great cover letter in this article, but we want to keep it simple and to the point.

I would explain in the first sentence or two that you are writing to apply for any potential teaching job openings.

Possible example:

Dear {Superintendent Name},

I am writing to express my interest in any potential English teaching positions that may be available in your school district for this upcoming school year. I am from the {the general town or city or state} area and have heard great things about your school, etc.

Check here for great information on writing your teacher cover letter and resume.

Step 5: Find School Districts to Apply

You want to send your resume directly to the Superintendent of the school. This way your resume will get passed directly from the Superintendent’s office to human resources. If you’re lucky, the Superintendent will open it personally and will hopefully remember you as soon as a position is available.

You will address the envelope as follows, again making sure it’s going directly to the Superintendent:

Dr. Joe Superintendent
Some Area School District
333 Main Street
Anytown, USA

Sources for finding school districts with the Superintendent’s name vary from state to state. For Pennsylvania, a great place to start is http://www.edna.ed.state.pa.us/. Simply click on a county and you will be presented with a list of school districts with the Superintendent’s name. Click on the school district and you will get the address. Perfect!

You can also go directly to the school’s website.

You want to go through a list of schools in your area and record the Superintendent’s name, the school district name, and mailing address for every school on the list. Don’t pick and choose here. Record information on every school district -- you can worry about turning down offers later.  :-)

Step 6: Prepare Mailings

Now, we’re going to let these school districts know what they’re missing out on.

Count the number of the school districts you came up with in Step 5. If you have 50 school districts, you will need to make 50 copies of each document in step 2.

You will need also need to create a cover letter for each school. If you made the body of the cover letter general, this should only take you a few seconds. Just change the school name, Superintendent name, and print it out.

At this time you should also create an envelope. You can either print the envelopes using a computer or carefully write the address out using a pen.

Once you have the envelopes, cover letters, and copies of each document, start putting together the application packets. Your cover letter should be first, then your resume, your teaching certification, your references, your application, then anything else you want to include.

Step 7: Mail out your resumes!

Now that you have your resume packets, head to post office and send them out.

The more resumes you have out there, the better chance you will have of finding your perfect teaching job. Openings become available year round and having your resume on file when one does is a huge advantage.

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