What Schools Look For in a Teacher
When a school searches for a new teacher, they already have an image of the teacher they want. Every school has certain qualities they feel a teacher must have to be successful. Those qualities can be many things depending on the needs and location of the school. While the qualities that each school considers important may vary, there are usually shared qualities that all schools would consider important.
The experience or background of a teacher is the most important quality a school looks for so your resume should highlight the qualities they are looking for. If they are looking for an ESL teacher for kindergarten students, it may be best to highlight activities that you have initiated and prepared at your previous positions. In addition, if you are looking at a position for a content subject such as science, highlight your knowledge and education in that area. This is especially important if you are a new teacher with little or no experience. Regardless, you should also have all academic qualifications available for the school to preview before you go for an interview. Most schools want to review the qualifications while considering applicants and will sometimes pass on teachers who don't submit these items for review when applying. Each school is unique so the best thing would be to have a cover letter that speaks to that school and the position they are looking to fill. Don't just have a blanket letter and resume that you mass mail to any potential school in the hopes of gaining employment. It may be beneficial to have a list of professional highlights that you can copy and paste into a cover letter based on the requirements of the position.
Another important consideration for schools is the personal qualities of a teacher. Most schools are looking for a long term commitment from a teacher so they want to make sure that teacher will fit within their school. The obvious qualities that come to mind are personable, positive and flexible/patient because these qualities will carry over into the classroom with your future students. In addition, the school will look at a teacher's qualities with regards to their professionalism because there is much that is required outside of the classroom. In other words, they will want a teacher that is organized and committed. If they feel that the teacher can't be depended on, they may not consider them a viable candidate. One of the things that may highlight a teacher's lack of commitment is a resume that shows numerous teaching positions over a short period of time. Remember that you will not be judged strictly by your qualifications but on the sum of who you are as an individual.
The factors that go into a school's decision to accept a teacher are varied and many so it is impossible to cover them all. Regardless, cover the basics looked for in any teacher and identify the unique characteristics or qualifications of a particular position. Remember that looking for a teaching job, like many other employment searches, is about selling yourself and the best way to do this is by identifying what the employer wants.
The following is an abbreviated list of characteristics posted by a teacher in response to a UNICEF request to "What makes a Good Teacher?":
Positive - Thinks positively and enthusiastically about people and what they are capable of becoming. Sees the good in any situation and can move forward to make the most of difficult situations when confronted with obstacles. Encourages others to also be positive.
Dependable - Honest and authentic in working with others. Consistently lives up to commitments to students and others. Works with them in an open, honest, and forthright manner.
Organized - Makes efficient use of time and moves in a planned and systematic direction. Knows where he or she is heading and is able to help students in their own organization and planning. Can think in terms of how organization can be beneficial to those served.
Committed - Demonstrates commitment to students and the profession and is self-confident, poised and personally in control of situations. Has a healthy self-image. Encourages students to look at themselves in a positive manner, careful to honor the self-respect of the students, while encouraging them to develop a positive self-concept.
Motivational - Enthusiastic with standards and expectations for students and self. Understands the intrinsic motivations of individuals, and knows what it is that motivates students. Takes action in constructive ways.
Compassionate - Caring, empathetic and able to respond to people at a feeling level. Open with personal thoughts and feelings, encouraging others to do likewise. Knows and understands the feelings of students.
Flexible - Willing to alter plans and directions in a manner which assists people in moving toward their goals. Seeks to reason out situations with students and staff in a manner that allows all people to move forward in a positive direction.
Knowledgeable - Is in a constant quest for knowledge. Keeps up in his or her specialty areas, and has the insight to integrate new knowledge. Takes knowledge and translates it to students in a way which is comprehensible to them, yet retains its originality.
Creative - Versatile, innovative, and open to new ideas. Strives to incorporate techniques and activities that enable students to have unique and meaningful new growth experiences.
Patient - Is deliberate in coming to conclusions. Strives to look at all aspects of the situation and remains highly fair and objective under most difficult circumstances. Believes that problems can be resolved if enough input and attention is given by people who are affected.
You can also practice answers to typical teacher interview questions like the ones on the following sites:
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
About the Author
Michael G. Hines is the founder of http://www.TotalESL.com, a free resource helping the ESL/EFL community in Asia and the Middle East for jobs, resumes, schools, resources, yellow pages, classifieds, information and lessons.
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