Oh, No! The District I Want Isn't Coming To Campus!
For the first time in recent memory, several school districts from a large metropolitan area near our university canceled their attendance at our spring teacher recruitment event – after they had already registered. This occurred in large part because of, you guessed it, a cut in state funding, which is resulting in budget cuts.
District budget constraints and reductions adversely affect the job market for new teachers - no secret there. Because districts may not be recruiting actively in as wide a market as previously, the district in which you are most interested in teaching may not be coming or have come to your campus to recruit. Does this mean they are not interested in new teachers? Does it mean they will not be interested in you? Does it mean they are not hiring any new teachers? Does it mean you cannot apply to that district? The answer to each of these questions is “no.”
What it does mean is that you will have to exercise more initiative to make contact with and be considered by your districts of choice. I use the plural “districts” because any person putting all his or her eggs in one basket in this market is not approaching the search wisely.
Here are a three ways that you might be able to contact your districts of choice effectively when they do not come to your campus.
• Attend an event at another university. The districts to which I alluded did recruit at another university 25 miles away. Why there and not here? Our university is not a major supplier of teachers for those districts. We are located in a city of about 120,000, and we are a, if not the, major supplier of teachers for the school districts in our immediate vicinity. The large institution where the districts did recruit is a major supplier for them. If the districts have to prioritize where they recruit, knowing that they will have a reduced number of opportunities, they will focus on their most fertile recruiting ground. That university’s events are open to our students, so attending events there is an option.
• Attend an event that the district sponsors. Over the last five years, we have seen an increasing number of “fairs” or interview events sponsored by districts and held on Saturdays on in the evenings. Districts initially intended these to lure professionals in other fields to interview, but most are not limited in that way. Several of our students who were interested in one of our canceled districts attended an “interview night” sponsored by the district at one of their schools.
• Contact the district directly. This technique is always in play, of course. If the districts you want are at a long distance from you, schedule a trip to that location, and ask for interviews during your visit. Most districts will try to accommodate you, as they don’t want to miss out on good candidates. This works best if you are in a hard-to-fill subject area.
The teacher job market has changed rapidly and continues to evolve. In times like these, the good candidate who takes initiative and is creative with the search will generate the most opportunities.
Director, Washburn University Career Services
On Behalf of AAEE