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Start Your Job Search Long Before You End Your College Program

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The time to begin thinking about your career in education is not as you are ordering your cap and gown! You need to be strategic throughout your program to best set yourself up for a successful job search.

All college and university Teacher Education Programs require some kind of classroom observations and visits. This typically begins long before student teaching, so take full advantage of these opportunities. Wise teacher recruiters will tell you that your first interview is the first time you meet anyone in a school.

Often, teacher candidates make the mistake of staying in their comfort zone: they choose to observe in schools that they attended or that are convenient to their homes. Field observations are your golden opportunity to branch out, learn of other systems and student populations, and diverse settings.

Consider these tips as you begin your Teacher Preparation Program:

1. Be strategic in choosing schools in which to observe. Make a carefully thought-out choice to observe teachers at various levels, types of schools, and student populations. This is your time to open yourself to possibilities of future student teaching placements and career options.
2. Treat every person in the building with professional respect. Principals will know who treats the custodian to the teacher aide well! Never forget the power of the school secretary! They can determine if you get an interview or not, based on your demeanor. If you make a positive impression on your first observation visit, you're more likely to be invited back.
3. Take the time to ask thoughtful, meaningful questions of teachers who invite you into their classrooms to observe. You'll not only learn more about the art and science of teaching, but you will also make the positive impression of the future professional educator!
4. Take advantage of opportunities to work with children in volunteer positions. Volunteer as an after-school tutor in schools throughout your city. Assist the coach of the local team or offer your service as a mentor through a local YMCA or church.

The perfect teaching job for you may not be what and where you think it is. Branch out, diversify your educational experiences, and meet as many people in as many schools as you can. Don't wait until your job search to market yourself to employers!

Jeanne Gilbert
Assistant Professor
Student Teaching Services
Regis University, Denver, CO

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