Securing Your First Teaching Job

You are finally to the last part of your journey! You have recently completed your student teaching placement where you taught someone else’s class for free while they were being paid to watch you. Your diploma has just arrived in the mail honoring your commitment to 120 credit hours of classes, papers, and lesson planning- as if it were only 120 hours worth. Now comes the biggest hurdle of them all. How in the world do you secure your first job? It seems as if every job description you read, or principal you speak with, is seeking someone with experience to fill positions. Which makes you want to scream “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET EXPERIENCE IF I CAN’T GET A TEACHING JOB?!?!?!?!”

I once found myself in this same position. I graduated in May of 2015 from the university with an education degree and had my state teaching certification. I was officially employable! I spent countless hours on job boards and going through school district websites. Each day that summer I got more and more worried. Is my summer job going to become my forever job? With August getting closer and closer I couldn’t help but feel like the smallest fish in a big pond of tenured teachers.

Finally, the day arrived. I got an interview request from another school in the district where I student taught. The catch? It wasn’t a long term position. It was filling in for three months while another teacher at the school was on maternity leave. But it was a foot in the door! I showed up for my interview dressed as if I were interviewing for a principal position. While I sat outside the conference room waiting for them to call me in, tragedy struck- one of my contacts decided to betray me by drying up like the Sahara Desert. Of course, as soon as this happened I was called into the interview.

I sat down in front of the principal, assistant principal, and the chair of the department for which I was applying. The first thing they asked me about was my education philosophy and what influenced my passion for education. With my eye still feeling like it was on fire, I began to share my own personal experience as a struggling student. Then it happened, as if from a scene in a movie, I reached the climax of my story and my eye finally let out a massive tear. Oddly perfect and embarrassing timing. Instantly humiliated, I could not do anything but laugh. The three administrators rushed around the room to find a tissue for me. They started to laugh with me as I explained what had happened. And just like that all the pressure of securing a job was gone. I finished my interview and received a phone call the next day letting me know that I had received the job.

Getting your first teaching job rarely happens how you imagined it would when you declared education as your major. I went through two temporary placements until finally getting the call from my dream job with a full-time opening in the middle of the school year. It was a hard journey, but as I look back now, it couldn’t have happened any better. I know quite a few fellow teachers who have experienced similar journeys whether it be through temporary placements or subbing. The greatest advice I can give you from my experience is this: put in the work. People notice when you go above and beyond and when you take initiative in every circumstance. So, as you start your climb at the foot of the mountain always remember why you started, and enjoy the journey for what it is. At the top is where you will realize staying true to your mission and the journey itself is what makes it all worth it.

Written by: Coach Ryan Norton