Teacher certification in special education … check.
Educator program where you earned your certification … check.
That should be everything, right? While this may seem like the only information you need on your resume when applying for a special education teacher position, the truth is you could be missing out on an opportunity to make a glowing first impression.
And that stellar first impression can catapult you to the top of the candidate list, increasing the chances that you land a job as a special education teacher in the district of your choice.
It’s always a good idea to review your special education teacher resume before submitting it, and as you do, don’t forget these 5 items:
An eye-grabbing resume summary statement
Accomplishments … not duties
Skills you acquired during student teaching
ALL Of Your Certifications
Unique educator experiences
An Eye-Grabbing Resume Summary Statement
Your resume could be one of the hundreds on a principal’s desk. A resume summary statement can be a game-changer that allows yours to stand out and grab the attention of the principal.
A resume summary statement is located at the top of your resume, typically below your contact information. This statement highlights your professional teaching skills and experience. It also demonstrates what value you bring to the position you’re seeking. That value is the key to making your resume stand apart from the pack.
Think of it this way. If you’re hiring for a position and you have 100 resumes in front of you, are you going to read through each word with a fine-tooth comb? Likely not. Instead, you’re going to scan the resumes, looking for key elements that you’re looking for in an employee.
The resume summary statement provides you with the opportunity to quickly offer this information to the principal and why you’re a perfect fit for the job.
A resume summary statement is ideal for applicants who have relevant experience and skills and need help organizing or focusing them. If you don’t have a lot of experience, you may want to instead consider a teacher resume objective statement, which focuses more on the type of teaching position you are looking for and the job listing itself.
A resume summary statement should include:
One to four sentences
Your most relevant strengths and accomplishments
Specific examples or experiences of working with students that will impress the principal
Action words or active voice
A resume summary statement should not use words that are underwhelming, like “team player.” It is also not the time to address any circumstances such as employment gaps.
Accomplishments … Not Duties
Listing accomplishments are an opportunity to show how fulfilled your duties and went above and beyond. When listing any relevant experience in your resume, be as specific as possible.
This is especially important for a special education teacher since your work will often involve you having to think outside the box. Special education teachers frequently have to adapt general education lessons and teach them to students who have a variety of disabilities. These disabilities can include learning, mental, physical and emotional.
Whether you’re currently a special education teacher or are finishing up your internship as you work toward your teaching license, you should aim to use action words or active voice throughout your resume that provide examples of your accomplishments.
Here’s an example:
A 4th grade teacher began a tutoring program for her students with reading deficiencies after school. As a result, the student’s state reading test scores at the end of the year improved by 15%.
Before:“Tutored 4th grade students with reading deficiencies after school.”
After:“Developed and implemented a weekly tutoring program after school for 4th grade students with below-average state test scores in reading, which helped boost their end-of-year test scores by 15%.”
Even if you are newly licensed and do not have as much experience in a special education classroom, simple word choices and using active voice can make a significant difference in the appeal of your resume. For example, strive to use words such as collaborated, created, evaluated, devised, boosted, maximized, developed and motivated.
Skills You Acquired During Student Teaching
If you are an intern working toward certification or a newly licensed teacher, some of your most relevant experience will likely be your student teaching internship.
When writing a resume, focus on skills you acquired during your student teaching experience, especially those that illustrate what you can bring to the table in a special education classroom.
Principals and hiring managers want to know:
If you created and taught lesson plans, especially those that were geared toward students receiving special education services
If you learned a district’s grading software
Situations where you worked with families, any challenges you faced and how you overcame those challenges
If you had an opportunity to design and implement curriculum to special needs students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
If you worked with other educators to develop a student’s individualized education plan
If you participated in IEP team meetings
If you participated in parent-teacher conferences
How you used positive behavior management strategies for classroom management
Our article, What Is A Special Education Teacher And How Do I Become One?, provides a more in-depth overview of who a special education teacher serves and what a special education teacher does. This article can be a valuable resource when crafting your resume because it offers a list of some of the activities you may perform on a daily basis as a special education teacher. This list may serve as a reminder of some of the activities you performed while student teaching, such as teaching and reinforcing socially-acceptable behaviors.
ALL Of Your Certifications
You must pass at least one content exam in the area you wish to teach in order to earn a Texas teacher certification. Content exams are divided by grade levels and certification areas such as special education, chemistry and mathematics.
If you’re applying for a special education teaching job, chances are you have taken the special education (grades EC-12) or the special education supplemental content exam. While this area of certification should be prominent on your resume, this isn’t the only certification you should include.
If you are certified to teach in any other area on this List of Texas Teacher Certification Tests, it’s important to include those as well. This shows your diversification as an educator and may open the door to more professional opportunities.
Other certifications that may be relevant to the job you are seeking can add further substance to your resume. For example, many districts require that their teachers are trained in CPR or first aid. If you are already certified in these areas, it could be helpful to include this information.
You also may have earned a certificate in other areas that boost the skills you have that are relevant to teaching, such as special needs certifications, language skills or any other credentials other candidates won’t have.
Unique Educator Experiences
Finally, unique teaching experiences you have had, even those outside the classroom, can give your special education teacher resume the extra oomph it needs.
Examples of items you could work into your resume include:
Coaching or out-of-school mentoring
Your understanding of Texas state standards
Your knowledge of special education rules and regulations
Any professional development conferences or workshops you have attended
Leadership positions within these professional organizations
One final important note: Before you submit your special education teacher resume to a principal, it’s always a good idea to have another educator take a look if possible. This professional can offer additional feedback or even prompt you to remember an accomplishment you achieved or experience you had in the classroom.
Need more ideas on how to help your resume make the cut and lead to an interview? Our article, Experienced Teacher Resume Do’s And Don’ts, offers advice on what to include and what to avoid to tailor a well-crafted resume.
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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