Becoming a Teacher: The Follow-Up
It is advisable to follow up with a letter thanking the interviewer for his or her time and consideration during the interview, preferably within 24 hours of the interview. Statistically less than 10% of interviewees follow up with a thank-you letter, so you will be part of the 10% that stands out. The letter assures your continued interest in the position. The letter should briefly reemphasize some of your better qualifications for the position and your interest in the position and be as concise and focused as your cover letter and resume. In addition, a thank-you letter to the classroom teacher is a nice touch, but it should not be a carbon copy of the other thank-you letters. (Remember to ask for business cards before leaving the interview so you have the correct spelling of names and titles for everyone.)
The interview itself is like the big game of the season. All the preceding preparation is for naught if you cannot effectively communicate your qualifications to the interviewer. Take heart, though: By the time you meet your interviewer, you have been well-prepared academically, you have learned from experiences in the classroom, and you have reflectively prepared for the interview. With all of this preparation, you will do fine, so relax!
The Inside Track
|What:||High School English Teacher|
|Where:||Cliffside Park High School, Cliffside Park, NJ|
|Type of School:||Public|
|How long:||4 Years|
|Degree(s):||BA in English Literature & MAT|
|School(s):||Fairleigh Dickinson University|
When I first started all of the veteran teachers warned me that it was very important to not smile at the students until at least January. I thought they were exaggerating and that the students would respond well to the warmth of a smile; I was wrong. I learned my lesson the hard way and paid for it by having a horrible first year with very little control of my classes. After that first year I make sure that my students understand that it is my classroom, not theirs, until I feel they have earned an opportunity to share in its claim.
What I Wish I Had Learned in School
I quickly realized that in college more of the lessons were geared toward those learning to be early education teachers. Many of the examples of tests, lesson plans, and strategies were of grammar school classes. I really wished more time could be given to showing secondary educators how to manage the short periods we have with the students.
The greatest joy I have now is seeing students who have graduated and come to visit me. They always remember some of the greatest classroom experiences that I sometimes forget because there are so many classes to remember. They also come to me asking for help with some of their college workload which makes me happy because it shows that I have earned their trust somewhere along the way.
Most people think that teachers have it easy because they only work about 180 days a year. Yeah, right! The truth of it is I have never worked harder at any other job. Being a teacher is more like a 365-day-a-year job. Between 8:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. I teach in a classroom, and that's the easy part. After 3:00 I grade papers, write exams and worksheets, figure out lesson plans, organize classroom events, plan field trips, and work out all of the other things that come my way as a teacher.
Teach and learn. I plan to go back to school as soon as possible because teaching can get stale if you don't find a way to rejuvenate it. Being open to new ideas and trying them out in your classroom is the best way to continue to love your job.
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