What do you believe about children?
Ultimately, that is the fundamental question. With all of the programs and initiatives that we implement in schools, the greatest factor in the academic achievement of students is the teacher. There is no amount of interview coaching or resume development that can substitute for a teacher that is qualified to teach and passionate about the success of students. If your passion for the learning and success of your students does not come through, your interview process will be short.
Before you launch into a career move or into your first teaching assignment search, spend some time reflecting on what you believe about the success of all students. At your core, do you believe that all students can learn? Do you believe that it is your responsibility as an educator to support the development of each child to his or her fullest potential? Do you have the patience and persistence necessary to stick with it, even when faced with obstacles and challenges? How has this belief and practice been evident in your teaching? How does this come through in your resume? Your cover letter?
Unmistakable in all of your sharing as a prospective teacher should be an unwavering commitment to the success of each student. It is easy to speak about all students, but the concept of each communicates something very different. "Each" points to differentiation and individualization. "Each" suggests that you recognize students learn at different rates and have different. "Each" opens the door for culturally relevant pedagogy. "Each" suggests that learning is the constant but time and opportunity are the variables. "Each" implies that you will strive to connect with your students individually.
As you go into your interview, have specific students in mind. Think about those with whom you have made a positive impact and they grew. Think also about those with whom you wish you had more time and opportunity. What have you learned as an educator that you will take into your new position that will make you effective? What strategies did you use that have become part of your repertoire? With whom did you collaborate and team? How did you involve or attempt to involve parents? Have this information in your head as you prepare. Be able to speak to the learning you have gleaned in the trenches. Weave it in. What this does is sets you apart as one who has a foundation and experience verses one who can theorize.
Ah! But, a caution...as you are speaking about them, leave out their names. Remember FERPA! As interviewers, we gasp when we hear the names of students bantered around because of confidentiality.
Tracey Grant, Director of Human Resources
Cherry Creek School District