The Real World

The Real World

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After the excitement of graduation begins to fade, reality sets in and it is time to enter the real world again.  When engrossed in a semester-long, full-time teaching internship, that is literally your job.  Now that it’s over, it is time to find another one.  Here’s an update on my transition back to work after student teaching and some tips on things I found helpful while job hunting.

Back to Work

Because I was already employed by Chicago Public Schools as a teacher assistant, immediately after my student teaching internship was complete I reported back to work at The Nettelhorst School to teach in a preschool classroom.  At this point there were only about 3 1/2 weeks left in the school-year, so after spending time before my return to work getting to know my students, families and the routines of the classroom, I got to be a part of end-of-the-year performances, celebrations and events all while teaching the last few weeks of the school-year.

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Summer Employment

Since the school year ends in mid-June, it was also necessary to find a summer job that will help make some money while still allowing me to work in the education and arts fields.  I am so happy to announce that I will be working this summer as the Assistant Director of Steve and Kate’s Camp in Lakeview.  This is a summer camp that offers a child-centered, self-directed play and learning program.  The program offers studios in various art disciplines including dance, music and stop-motion animation, to name a few, as well as sports, recreation and educational activities.  I am excited to spend my summer teaching while being a part of a program that offers so much for kids and believes in the same teaching philosophies that I do.

Job Hunting

Job hunting is always stressful, but on top of graduating, finishing our Capstone Portfolio and Action Research, heading back to work and finding summer employment, us newly licensed teachers from the MAT program must embark on the most important job hunt of all: finding full-time teaching employment for the upcoming 2014-15 school year.  The process begins by fixing up your resume, cover letter, vita, and portfolio materials.  Although we are currently completing our Capstone Portfolio, this is a culmination of our entire two years in the MAT program at Columbia and will be similar in length to a masters thesis, it is not necessarily something we will be lugging to our interviews to have potential employers read all 100-plus pages.  Instead, it is a good idea to take important pieces and artifacts to create a mini-portfolio to dazzle those interviewers.

When heading to job fairs and interviews I included my resume, my teaching philosophy, a few lessons to show my versatility in teaching (one in math, one in reading, and one in dance, each for a different grade-level), and a piece highlighting my ability to adapt lessons and learning activities for the differing needs and abilities of learners.  I also have most of these materials available digitally online on my website and online educator portfolio, for easier access for potential employers.

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My personal experience job-hunting has looked something like this: gather and edit materials, produce a presentable mini-portfolio to highlight my strengths and accomplishments, fill out as many online applications for various school districts as I can, complete the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Teacher Quality Pool and online application, distribute resume and cover letter in-person to schools, practice answering interview questions, start interviewing!

So far, I have attended a teaching career fair at UIC, a CPS career fair, the CPS early hiring initiative (an initiative in which the district interviews teacher candidates with credentials in high-needs areas and if chosen, hires them, then helps place them at a school), the CPS arts open house (similar to the hiring initiative but focused on dance, drama, music and visual arts), phone interviews, in-person interviews, panel interviews, and completed demo lessons at a few elementary schools.  It seems like a lot, because it is a lot.  But, preparedness is the key.  Being prepared with an elevator pitch to really sell yourself and your abilities, a portfolio that highlights your strengths in planning and instruction, and confidence that you are the right candidate for the position will do wonders while job hunting.  And, although it is a lot, it is worth it in the end.   I just recently was asked back to discuss job options and offers with a few local schools!  I can’t wait to blog more about my experiences this summer, and soon share with you my job for the upcoming school-year!