Like many states, the job market in Florida is very tight. At my own school where we usually are interviewing all summer long, we have had very few interviews. Nobody is leaving in this difficult economy and so nobody is hiring. Courtney is beginning to panic as summer draws to an end. Who am I kidding? My husband is also in a panic. I keep telling them both that it will all work out - there's always shifting at the very end.
After interviewing hundreds of prospective teachers, this has been my advice to Courtney:
- Dress professionally - even if you are just dropping off a resume. A nice dress will do with heels. No cleavage, not to short.
- The Secretary often gets you in the door so always be especially pleasant to the person at the front counter.
- Don't just send your resume. Drop it off, if you can, so they can put a face with a resume.
- Do your homework. Look the school up on the Internet and find out as much as you can so when the Principal says, "Why do you want to work here?" you can say something besides, "...because your school is so close to where I live," even if it's true!
- Be honest if they ask you about something you don't know, but make sure they know that you are a learner and would be willing to learn.
- Be yourself. While you may really want the job, you also want them to know what they are getting so the job ends up being the right fit for you and for them.
- After the interview, always send an e-mail thanking the principal for the opportunity to meet her and any of her staff. Principals talk and even though she might not hire you, she just might recommend you to one of her friends.
Courtney only had an opportunity to interview for a couple of jobs that came open. She was offered a job after her first interview. It was a self-contained classroom for K-5 children (quite a range!) who are behavior disordered. The class had had 4 teachers in 3 years and the only support was the Principal who was about to go on maternity leave! The Principal actually kept Courtney for almost two hours in the interview- I'm sure trying to figure out if she could trust this job to a new teacher. At the time it was the only offer that Courtney had. My advice was that she turn the job down. It was not the job itself - Courtney has a Masters in Special Education - but it was the lack of support. Actually in a situations where she had sufficient support, it could have been the perfect learning opportunity, but without support, it just was not a first year teacher job. Courtney really stressed at telling the Principal no. Her father really stressed at the idea that she might be turning down her only chance for a paycheck and that we would be supporting her for another year! But... it was the right thing to do for her and for the children in that class.Finally, with only a few days before school started Courtney had the perfect interview. She was so excited and bubbly. "This school is PERFECT! It's just like Chets Creek (my school)! I REALLY want this job!" She called later in the afternoon to tell me the Principal had called to offer her a job! I could hardly get a word in - Courtney talks a lot in a normal situation and she was absolutely giddy! When she finally took a breath I asked, "So what grade will you be teaching?" She stopped short - "Oh no, I forgot to ask!"
I was sure they would have hired Courtney for a primary position looking at her resume, but when she called the following day, she said she was teaching 3-4-5. "Are you sure?" I said. "I'm sure," she said in that happy, life-is-wonderful sort of way. I didn't have the heart to tell her about the FCAT and the load she had just taken on her shoulders - save that for another day. Right now, we'll just bask in the THRILL of a new job!