Teachers who are looking for a school that can offer them a successful, meaningful, long-term career in education have numerous factors to consider before applying, interviewing for, and accepting a position. Trying to determine which teaching positions are the best fit for you involves an assessment of not just the school, but also what you want from your career. Consider some of the following factors when researching and evaluating potential schools for employment.
Determining if a School is a Strong Fit
Before submitting an application or participating in a first interview for job opportunities at a given school, research the school, its model, and its results. A wide variety of resources and strategies can help you do so, and the tips below will help set you up for a successful search.
Review State Department of Education Information
The Department of Education in your state has information about individual school performance trends, absenteeism rates, and more to keep the public-including applicants for teaching positions-informed. Take the time to review and evaluate this information when researching open teaching positions.
Visit the School
Although this option is not currently available, when we are past COVID-19, you should inquire about the option to visit a school’s campus before applying for a teaching position. Doing so will allow you to observe instruction, experience the school culture, and witness day-to-day activities of students and teachers first-hand, helping you evaluate whether or not you can envision yourself feeling motivated and professionally fulfilled as a member of the staff and school community. If you get an opportunity to take a tour, remember the following:
- Approach your campus visit with an open mind. First impressions are important, but new environments take getting used to, as do different teaching styles and class and school structures.
- Pay attention to the classroom and school atmosphere or culture. Do the students and teachers look happy? Are they working hard and enjoying their work?
- Observe the nature of relationships between teachers and students, among staff members, and among students. How do they show each other respect, support, and positivity?
Review Online Resources
When you find a school that catches your interest, peruse the school’s website and social media channels to get a sense of the school’s culture. Look for videos that give you a sense of what a typical day looks like, feels like, and sounds like. Read employee-written reviews on platforms like Indeed and Glassdoor to gain first-hand perspective on teachers’ experience. Use the sum total of this research to determine if the organization, its mission, vision, and priorities align with your professional goals.
Finding your Ideal Grade Level
Teaching positions at each grade level present unique challenges and rewards. Schools that are serving their communities effectively have a variety of tools in place to support teachers with the professional development needed for success teaching in various grade levels, but you’ll also want to reflect on which grade level(s) you are most interested in and excited about teaching.
Here is a brief overview of what to consider:
Early elementary teachers in grades Kindergarten through 2nd grade typically teach all academic content areas (literacy, math, etc.) and help lay the critical foundations that ensure students are fully set up for future success. Early elementary teachers instill the joy of life-long learning in their students, which requires an abundance of energy, enthusiasm, patience, and motivation to meet and achieve short- and long-term goals. Like all teaching roles, early elementary teachers collaborate closely with students’ families, and maintain close relationships built around mutual trust and shared commitment to student success.
Teachers interested in upper elementary grades (3rd-5th grade) can expect a shift towards more text-heavy curriculum in all content areas, along with increased student independence and student organization skills. Upper elementary teachers build on the foundations of the early elementary grades as students develop greater self-awareness and social skills. In some schools, homeroom teachers teach all content areas in the upper elementary grades, while other schools use a departmentalized approach in which teachers develop content expertise in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Science, or Social Studies and teach that content area to all classes at the grade level rather than all contents to one classroom of students.
Middle school teachers manifest their commitment to supporting and inspiring pre-teen and teenage students as they navigate the exciting and complex transition from elementary to high school. Enthusiasm for the content area you’re teaching is particularly important, as you’ll need to leverage your sincere love of your content area to engage students as they grapple with increasingly challenging content. As with any grade level-and especially in middle school-strong relationships are foundational to student success in middle school and beyond.
Your Teaching Goals Determine Your Fit
The bottom line when trying to determine a good fit for your next role is ability to determine whether the school offers what you are looking for-it’s a place where you want to be, feel motivated by the mission, and can expect to receive the support and professional development you need to be an effective teacher.
Vista College Prep makes teacher effectiveness-and therefore student success-our first priority. We understand the importance of providing targeted professional development opportunities to not only improve student outcomes but also provide a satisfying and rewarding career. Contact VCP today to learn more about our school and our team of passionate educators!