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How to Use Your Strengths to Land a Teaching Job

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Guest post by Connie Rath. This post was originally published in the March 21, 2013 TopSchoolJobs eXPO

As a prospective teacher, you can distinguish yourself from a competitive applicant pool by understanding your own strengths and how to use them in the classroom to drive student achievement.

Here are three ways to use your strengths to secure a teaching position:

1. Evaluate your strengths.

A common misconception among prospective teachers is that candidates with the best academic records are the top candidates for teaching positions. However, many of the top teachers -- those who help students achieve gains each year -- likely struggled with their own academic coursework. The best teachers help their students achieve by knowing their own strengths and how to apply them in the classroom. Knowing their strengths gives these teachers the confidence and personal insight they need to craft the optimal learning experience for their students each day.

2. Explain how your strengths will contribute to helping your students grow.

The most attractive teaching candidates can clearly explain how their unique strengths help them meet their students' needs. If you have a strong drive for achievement, you can push a little more every day to find an additional way to help a student reach a new level of success. If you are a great relator, you can get to know your students and their interests so well that the students perform their best. If you are analytical, you may love to study data to diagnose what students need. If you excel by leading group discussions and taking charge of decisions, you can describe how you could manage a classroom more effectively than many other teachers. If you easily personalize attention with friends and coworkers, you can detail how you can individualize education for your students.

3. Set aggressive goals for yourself.

Create a plan about how you can be a high-performing teacher. Review the students you have helped become successful and imagine how you can do that for 25 or 200 young people. Be clear about how you will measure student growth. Be ready to be your own performance manager, because you may not have a helpful principal or mentor.

Connie Rath is the Vice Chairwoman and Dean, Gallup Education. Gallup experts work with leaders in education to hire and develop talented educators, identify the strengths of each individual student, and create engaging learning environments -- fostering long-term student success in the classroom and in future careers. Gallup has helped more than 8 million people discover their strengths.

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