Showcasing Career Readiness & Piecing It All-Together
BY DR. ANNETTE WILSON
Teacher candidates will need to develop goals and aspirations of mastering classroom accomplishments. An advisor plots the program of study for a candidate that he/she uses detailed curriculum guidelines to ensure on-time completion of an academic course of study. Once the program of study is documented, and completed by the responsible faculty, the next step concerns the candidate’s buy in to participate and be successful academically. Thus, academic success leads to career opportunities.
Process of Academic Success Leads to Career Opportunities
It is imperative for the candidate and future job-hunting graduate to engage in self-checks and feedback during his/her academic studies that can predict student habits needed to produce more successful outcomes by the end of four years. The following strategies for accomplishing a steady path to put in place the elements required for steady growth are presented in three phases.
Phase I – Goal Alerts
‘Goal Alerts’ are strategies for forming habits and calculated practices. Calculated practices lead to becoming teachers who know Best Practice for classroom achievements.
- Choose your direct route to the subject degree you want to teach.
- Plot out the number of years needed to complete the degree.
- Make a budget plan, including known costs and emergencies.
- Plan a strategy for down time, holidays and summers.
- Capture a process of class participation for your academic studies.
- Know yourself regarding study habits and resource needs.
- Have a back-up plan for technological needs during your course of study.
- Let the library be your focal point for study.
- Learn to allow time for re-dos and re-thinking of assignment requirements.
- Have multiple resources for long-term assignments.
Be In Touch
- Know the important ofﬁces in the academic process.
- Know your calendar dates and required submission formats for assignments.
- Know the outside requirements for your profession.
- Keep up with contacts regarding ﬁnancial obligations and submissions.
- Make sure all of your course work requirements are gathered, sorted, and ordered by due dates from the ﬁrst day the syllabus is received for each course.
- Review course requirements immediately after meeting each class.
- Write down any questions or concerns you have regarding the course.
- Make appointments immediately with the instructor.
- Make appointments immediately with your academic advisor if the course is not part of your program of study.
- For each course check for reliable support services: writing centers, tutorial labs availability, instructor study sessions, group study, and departmental assistance. Even if you know the material and an instructor is having study labs, go and increase your knowledge base and comfort zone for the course.
The ‘Early Bird’
- With a formal letter of introduction, contact at least ten (10) county school systems’ human resource ofﬁces during your sophomore year of study.
- Start reading human resource pages regarding qualiﬁcations for teaching positions.
- Make a list of courses that will help you prepare for a particular position.
- Education programs require ﬁeld experiences. Choose several schools to start volunteering experience. Do not get comfortable in just one school or one classroom with one teacher. Become versatile in your volunteer experiences.
- Start attending formal career training sessions offered by the university.
- Stop and review progress on the ofﬁcial program of study signed during the ﬁrst semester.
- Review your goals and objectives. Ask questions of yourself regarding content area, grade level, specialty areas, and the ability to complete the program.
- Look at the electives chosen for study. Are the electives strengthening the skills needed to become a “Best Practice” teacher?
- Check your individual ﬁnancial status each semester.
- Know in advance resources listed and not listed on course requirements.
- Make a calendar of courses that require ﬁeld experiences, extra ﬁnancially related resources (transportation, gas, food, and changes in work schedules if you are ﬁnancing your education), and extra time so you can calculate your off campus responsibilities.
- Check with instructors teaching required courses before the semester to prepare for extras beyond textbook requirements.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
- All of us have qualities to develop effectively to ensure success in teaching.
- Look at the good qualities and points of interest considered proper for teaching.
- Hone in on the special traits to strengthen your marketability in the teaching profession.
- Share talents during course assignments and activities so professors might help ground those talents in future teaching initiatives.
- Look at the possible weaknesses prone to holding back a professional working in the teaching ﬁeld.
- Work on an action plan for the weaknesses and challenges regarding your professionalism and look for assistance to correct those weaknesses.
- Know the teaching career responsibilities.
Know the Profession
- Read and become familiar with state regulations regarding licensure.
- Choose at least two states as projected work environments.
- Read and become familiar with national standards in both content and teacher speciﬁc skills.
- Start reading job descriptions from states (counties) of employment interest.
- Look for education journals online. If you cannot afford a subscription, read them in the library and public school libraries.
- Know what is required for upholding a teaching position.
- Connect with a master teacher in the community well into the profession.
- Start a repertoire of teaching initiatives for the content and grade area of choice. Be prepared to work in more than one grade area or content area by choosing electives and upper level courses to strengthen the academic side of the college experience.
Phase II – e-Portfolio
You will use your academic best from standardized scores to course projects to convince employers to hire you. During job interviews, your portfolio [e-Portfolio] is likely to be reviewed by superintendents, principals, teachers, and in some cases even school board members. The e-Portfolio or Electronic Portfolio is today’s choice of documentation and readiness to present to principals and board members. Student’s work gathered during ﬁeld experiences, student teaching, and internships evidenced in the e-Portfolio with communication software, scanning soft wares, and document imaging. While you were in Phase I of the academic voyage, you saved and documented evidence of how you assessed student learning, created innovative instructional plans, planned ﬁeld trips and extracurricular activities during internships at the classroom level, building and community level. If you did not accomplish some of these activities then the time between graduation and career searching must include volunteer opportunities where you can capture your work with children in formal and informal settings.
The more you can have to share as a concrete example of your knowledge, skills, and attitude that directly and strongly relates to standards, and your best effective teaching experiences will be the most beneﬁcial to you as you showcase your career readiness. The interview teams will remember you and want you back to sign on the dotted line.
Once You’ve Graduated
You have graduated from a degree or certiﬁcate program and established yourself as a professional by passing required licensure tests and institutional exit criteria and exams. As was discussed in Phase I, your work in becoming a career educator starts during your course of study. Phase II is upon you to showcasing career readiness by using the e-Portfolio as documentation of your best to future employers. Focus elements of career readiness are evidence pieces documented and written for use in the hiring process, for example, professional presentation as one key to success. How you present yourself on the ﬁrst day of work as well as on the last day of work will promote repeat contracts and hiring opportunities.
Phase III – Reflective Effective Teacher Expectations
Employers of school districts will ask a very short but important question, Why Should We Hire You? This will not be a point in time to stumble and grasp at the air for a response. Be a prepared professional with documentation of your last year(s) of success and student accomplishments.
COMPLETING YOUR FIRST YEAR OF TEACHING
When you complete your first year of teaching, professionalism is evidenced by the time and energy of student success in report cards, parent teacher conferences, curriculum coordinator reports, team leader reports, principal evaluations, selfreflections in your journals, and district professional data justifications. However, as this evidence is student success, what evidence have you archived to present a story that will say to the administration, here is what I have accomplished therefore, renewal of my participation in your district is most beneficial to your organization?
Your Academic e-Folio
- Course assignments
- Field experiences
- Student Teaching
- Internship evidence
First Year Teaching e-Portfolio
- Evidence of student work
- Parent class participation
- Professional development activities on your own and district supported
- Collaborative efforts with other teachers, building, and administrative personnel
Letters of Support
- Teachers in your building
- Principal • Community leaders sponsoring field trips
- Other university personnel visiting your classroom
Future Goals and Aspirations
- Show written ideas about your teaching strategies
- Document application to district professional development offerings
- Choose a school function you would like to guide or coach as a choir, writing club, math club or sports clubs