For many first-timers, searching for a job as a Texas teacher can be an “up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege,” to quote Jerry McGuire. If you’re not careful, anxiety and stress can get the best of you, so I’m writing today to give you a few helpful hints to keep you calm in the middle of your job search.
It's like any other job search
The most frustrating part of this process for most new teachers is waiting for the phone to ring. At job fairs, you are told how to apply online so that you can find that perfect position, teaching exactly the subject and grade that is in your wheelhouse. So, you apply online.
Then you wait. And you wait some more, and then you wait some more.
After you exhaust your patience, you get the nerve to pick up the phone and ask about our application only to hear that the job has already been filled.
At this point, frustration can set in. It’s important to keep your composure and understand that there is a very specific hiring window for teachers. By understanding this window, you can keep your stress levels low.
Texas Teachers Hiring Window
If you have your Texas teacher certification and are applying for a job after September or before May, you won't see a lot of activity. Sometimes, the only way to get an inside track once the year has started is to accept a position as a substitute or Educational Aide, and then keep your eyes and ears open to find available teaching positions.
This can be frustrating. Even when you are inside the May to September window, hiring fluctuates.
Here is a typical timeline:
In May, principals are discovering which teachers aren't going to return for the next school year. The districts don't like to do a lot of outside hiring (except in high need areas), because there will be movement within the district because of promotion or transfer requests.
Once school ends in June, more teachers leave their positions and another wave of openings occurs.
If you are not being contacted during this timeframe, don’t stress out. The districts are assessing their needs and determining their hiring requirements for the upcoming school year.
We have found that mid-July is the primary hiring period for most school districts.
Principals tend to be able to focus solely on placing teachers during this time.
Putting Yourself in the Best Position to Get Hired
You MUST follow up. If you applied for a competitive position at any major employer, you would follow up with the local hiring manager.
It's no different in education (with some exceptions). You should find out who the local manager is and ask for the interview. Start with the Principal. If the Principal is non-responsive, find out if there is an assistant principal over the department. If the Assistant Principal is non-responsive, ask for the Department Head.
Keep walking that line between being annoying and staying in communication until you get a response.
If the answer is "No", accept it and move on to the next target.
Just like any large business, a school district has a Human Resources department, responsible for providing candidates for open positions. They must ensure that all candidates are qualified for the position and that they meet general criteria for the district.
They will weed out candidates, primarily through the online interview process. But beyond that, they really are just the gatekeepers. They are looking for the best group of candidates, so things like education and previous experience are key to helping you make the list.
You need to convince them, on paper (with a top-notch resume), that you have experience and that you know your content. Try to relate your 'real world' experience to the classroom environment. If you want to teach Math, explain how you have used Math in your career, and your excitement at the prospect of imparting that knowledge to eager students.
If you were a manager, explain how you managed your employees and handled problems 'in house' as a practice rather than referring them to your boss. The ability to manage people (your students) is a key component of becoming a successful Texas Teacher. Administrators don’t want their offices clogged with students that you don’t know how or are unwilling to handle.
Wow the Principal
Just like any large business, the final hiring decision for local positions is usually made by a mid-level manager, such as a Principal or Assistant Principal. These local managers will likely be directly responsible for their hiring decisions, so they will tend to be more careful.
Principals are concerned with your level of experience and content knowledge, so all the above still applies. In addition, they are looking for great employees that will fit in with their school culture. Beyond basic competence, you will also need to demonstrate:
That you will be a great employee
You’re timely and will meet deadlines
You manage your own work proactively
You already have ideas about your first lessons
You understand the best way to manage people
You love kids and your students are your primary motivation
They won't know these things unless you demonstrate them on your resume and in your communication. Be prepared, put your best foot forward, and you will be well on your way to conquering your first job search.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank.
In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.
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