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Tips for Aspiring Educators from a Recent Graduate

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The phone rings. You answer. You are disappointed to hear the news: you didn’t get the job. You’ve interviewed with countless districts, in state and out of state. You look at the diploma hanging on your wall and wonder what in the world you’re going to do for the next year.

This scenario is not specific to aspiring educators; it is a reality faced by recent graduates from many programs across the United States.

However, you might be different than many of your peers seeking employment. You chose to pursue teaching because you have passion. Educating children to improve their lives is not an easy task. You learned this first-hand during your student teaching experience and you persevered through difficult situations to ensure your students learned—no matter what. It may be disheartening to realize the hiring cycle for the majority of teaching jobs is now over for the coming school year, but this is not the time to give up. This is the time to harness your passion for education and continue to persevere. With some smart planning, intentional networking, and creative thinking, you can make the most of this year and continue to develop your teaching skills.

Here are some tips from a fellow recent graduate:

  1. Continue teaching. There are many ways to practice your teaching skills over the next year. Substitute in all nearby districts and be sure not to overlook opportunities at private schools. Start a literacy program at your local library. Volunteer at a high school to tutor students in Chemistry. Use the teaching skills you have as often as you can.
  2. Network. Treat every informal teaching experience you have as an opportunity to network. Give your best effort when substitute teaching and leave your resume with the principal or director of Human Resources.
  3. Use free resources. The state of Ohio offers free online modules that can help improve your teaching through formative instructional practices. Many local education agencies (LEAs) have adopted these modules as their professional development. Complete the modules, print off certificates of completion, and discuss your ideas for using formative instructional practices during interviews. You will leave a lasting impression as a teacher who takes initiative in pursuing professional growth.
  4. Start an employment plan. Contact Career Services at your undergraduate institution and put together an employment plan. Use any free application services and spend time researching districts. Complete applications and write letters of interest highlighting what attracts you to the schools. Be sure to mention those specific details in interviews.

Think for a moment about the difference between gambling and investing. When you gamble, you are betting your money at random chance. When you invest, you research and make a wise decision about where you are placing your resources. In this life, we have limited resources. We only have so much time and energy to spend every day. How you invest your resources matters.

Don’t spend the next year gambling with your resources of time and energy. Invest them in your future as an educator. Will you always win? Will it always pay off? I would argue, yes. We all face setbacks and disappointment. But you can work through any situation, thoughtfully and purposefully, to become a better educator.

Carol Harper
charper@battelleforkids.org