Research Beyond the District's Website
When applicants apply for a teaching job, they generally go to the school's website to learn more about the district. While this approach can render some good information, applicants should strive to learn even more about a district.
Logical sources are the community's newspaper (either in print or on-line), contact with the state's education association, or the website of the state's Department of Education. All of these would prove to be valuable in providing more depth of information.
I would recommend another website that I encourage applicants to use for each school that they are seriously considering for employment--School Data Demographics. This site, http://nces.ed.gov/datatools, contains a plethora of information that extends far beyond what an applicant will find at a district's website. Through this site, you can search for Public School Districts or Private Schools. You will find information on the type of school, the grade span, total students and teachers, number of ELL students, number of students with IEPs, and the Student/Teacher ratio. Also listed is the revenue by source and the amount spent per student. Further information is available about each building in the district.
I often encourage students to do a "test run" of the site by searching the high school where they graduated. Starting with something familiar allows them to build confidence in what they are looking for.
Using this site is beneficial for both the applicant and the Human Resource personnel who will be handling the application. The applicant is able to customize his/her letter of application to show a deeper knowledge of the system to which he/she is applying, as well as to be able to answer interview questions more specifically. The Human Resource personnel will see that the applicant has sought out the kind of information that shows a commitment to this school district and that avoids being a generic application. This is truly a "win-win" situation.
--Dr. Becky Faber, Career Services
University of Nebraska-Lincoln