DePaul Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) | October 2012 | Page
Maribeth Westlund, NBCT
Social Studies Department Chair, SHARE Coordinator at Schaumburg High School,Schaumburg, IL.
Grade Teacher at Our Lady of Knock Catholic School,Calumet City, IL.
Given the volume of teacher candidates, how can new teachers stand out to principals?
I might be old school on this one but ….
If I receive an email or a letter from a teachingcandidate, it makes a difference. Seeing the paper or reading the email is another opportunity to
remember someone’s name.
When I am interviewing at the job fair, I often recall that I havereceived a letter or an email from them.
The person’s name is then familiar and it is also a
positive conversation starter for the interview. I know we all use the on line application but thefile of resumes and cover letters is my preference. At the high school level, also send yourapplication to the department chair, athletic director and principal. All of us are involved in thehiring process. I know I received my interview for my second teaching position partially becauseof coaching gymnastics. It was helped to separate me from the many qualified candidates.
Please don’t put “references on request”.
It is another step for me to contact you toprovide the list. It slows down the process. As department chairs and principals, we often knowyour references. Please include them.
I also recognize that teacher “A” is outstanding and that the person’s student teacher are well prepared for the challenges of teaching.
Your referencesare often a strong asset for your application.A third tip, would be to send a hand written thank you note or an email after a job fair orinterview. It too leads to a chance for the interview to be remembered. Also most applicants
don’t think to do so.
Please share 3 key areas new teachers should prioritize to be successful in teaching.
Take the time to know students as individuals. The personal connection is crucial tostudent learning. If they know you care about them, they will work harder to learn.Collaboration with other teachers
a professional learning team pushes all of us to bebetter teachers.
Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and take risks out of your comfort zone.
If you do, makea mistake it is also important to admit it to your students. They appreciate the honesty and youare modeling an important life skill. We do
n’t grow unless we make mistakes.
Don’t forget to sleep, eat well, exercise and take time with friends and family.
In educationthere is always more to do. Finding balance is key to avoiding burnout.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
I am still learning about teaching and students after 27years of teaching.
What pitfalls should teachers try to avoid making in an interview?
The pitfall that I see most often is that applicants forget to talk about students andlearning. They often speak only about themselves and their accomplishments. While they areimportant and often were why you were called for the interview, I want to see teachingcandidates show that they care about students and their learning. Please mention specificstudents by name. Please talk about how you worked together to get the lightbulb to go on. I
love to hear… how you motivated them, taught the concepts in a new way after the lesson wasn’t
as successful as you hoped, reached out to a twitter community for educators, called a mentoretc.
I promise, it really is ok to tell us in an interview that it didn’t work the first time but that you