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"It's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know"

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We've all heard that line, and after a few rejections and seeing some others hired before us, we may start to truly believe it. But it really is wrong. In fact, it is wrong on two counts.

First it IS about what you know. To be hired as a teacher in the public school system (and increasingly in private and charter systems) you need the certification that shows you have a certain proficiency in education. No certification, no position.

Secondly, it is more about who knows YOU than who you know. This is essentially the power of networking. The more people you can get to know you and impress, the more people you have working for you.

To put this into practice, here are a few suggestions depending on your situation...

If you are a student teacher:  Think of student teaching as a semester long networking opportunity.  If you were in an internship in any other discipline, you would have had to apply for the position, been interviewed and begun the networking process.  We bypass that step in Education, but you can still network - even if you do not want to be in that particular school. Remember: the staff and faculty there know other educators

•Pass out your resume. 

•Ask for feedback.

•Ask the Principal (or Assistant) to observe you.

•Be Visible - go to programs; wear a nametag; mention your name.

•Be positive. Make suggestions; go "above and beyond"; volunteer.

If you are looking for that first position:

You may have taken another type of position while applying for teaching positions (Plan "B"), but you can still network and lay a better groundwork for your application.

•Join professional organizations and attend workshops.

•Substitute - there are services and some schools maintain their own lists.  Schedule one day a week for subbing, and think of it as an all-day interview.  Be sure to leave your resume and credentials with that school.

•Maintain contact with your college career center.

•Keep in touch with your faculty, student teacher supervisor and other professionals.  Make sure they have a copy of your current resume.

•Find ways to "teach" in your job - staff training is teaching, and uses your skills as an educator.  Ask to help with new employee training in your "Plan B" position

It is easy to fall into the trap of "It's who you know...", but with some effort, you will be the one who gets noticed.

Phil Tripp

Assistant Director (retired)

West Chester University

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