Saturday, March 25, 2017

Your Biggest Challenge

Every once in a while you will be thrown a "zinger" - a question out of the blue that you don't expect and is designed to see how well you can think on your feet.  These questions appear more often than you think and are used to determine your flexibility and thinking skills.  If you are asked one of these questions, pat yourself on the back - it means you're a solid contender for a job.  But, be ready for them at any time - how you answer them can make all the difference in the world.  Here's a classic one:

     What do you think is the biggest challenge teachers face today?

     A:   Teachers are challenged from all sides – the media, parents, government officials, elected leaders, and communities.  We are in the proverbial spotlight – constantly.  That’s why I think that one of the greatest challenges we face is that of assessment.  That is, are students learning to the best of their potential and are teachers providing their students with the best quality education possible.  Educational initiatives such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” have put educational assessment on the front burner, so to speak, of educational reform.  Are we teaching what we should be teaching and are students achieving as they should be achieving?  During my student teaching experience I was able to fully integrate assessment throughout all my lesson plans – from beginning to end.  For that, I can thank Dr. Cranshaw, who showed me how to effectively integrate assessment throughout any lesson, any unit.  I certainly don’t have all the answers regarding assessment, but I’ve received some excellent training and excellent experiences I can use throughout my career.
Rule #1:  Be sure you are up to date on the latest educational theories, initiatives, “hot topics,” and issues.  You will, sometime during the interview, be asked about your opinion or your experience in dealing with one of these concerns.  Be sure to demonstrate how you have addressed an element of that issue sometime in your pre-service training.  If you don’t you will be sending a very powerful message to the interviewer that you don’t stay up to date and that you are unaware of what is happening outside the classroom.  This is a mistake you can’t afford to make.
ANNOUNCEMENT:  Ace Your Teacher Interview ( has just been selected as a finalist in the Foreword Review Indie Awards in the Career category. The winner will be announced at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Hidden Facts About Resumes - Part III

In the previous two posts we talked about some of the hidden elements in resumes, including: 1) most principals don't read an entire resume, 2) a resume is not a summary of your life, 3) your resume may be your most important document in any application, and 4) resumes must always engender a positive first impression.  This week's article focuses on one of the least known, yet most critical, facts of resume writing - your ability to tell a story.  Let's take a look.

Good Resumes Tell Stories
From the earliest of times, humans have always enjoyed good stories (remember, these were the times before Facebook and Twitter).  In many civilizations and cultures professional storytellers were revered and praised and it was quite the social event to have one of these professionals wander into a village and share his tales of imaginary animals, great battles, or fantastical kingdoms.  These stories were both compelling and memorable.

Most people make the unfortunate mistake of assuming that a resume is merely a listing of the things one has done in all her or his previous jobs.  Not so!  A good resume is one that tells a story.  After all, would you rather have someone read you a list of all the different pairs of shoes a popular singer has or would you rather hear a story about a day in the life of a popular singer?  So it is with resumes - you can capture (and keep) the attention of a busy school administrator much better with a series of stories than you can with a listing of accomplishments.
In most cases, a typical resume is a bland recitation of standardized phrases and common descriptions - nothing that grabs (and holds) the attention of a reader.  These documents are simple and straightforward listings - there is no representation of the vibrant, exciting, or energetic human being who wrote about those events.  On the other hand, a resume of stories sets you apart from the crowd - it adds personality to your document and makes you memorable.
            Fact:  “Was responsible for teaching social studies lessons and assessing students.”
            Story:  “Designed and taught an inquiry-based/ hands-on social studies unit focused on ‘Time and Timekeeping’ which has now been incorporated into the overall sixth grade curriculum.  End-of-year assessments indicated a 17% improvement over the previous year’s scores in social studies.”

Stories also have the advantage of creating images in the minds of readers or listeners.  It is those images that make a story memorable.  Think about some of your courses.  The ones you enjoyed most were those that offered up stories, anecdotes, or vignettes about various topics.  The courses you liked the least were those that focused, almost entirely, on the memorization of facts, data, and (apparently useless) bits of information.
Do you want to write a resume that captures the attention of a busy administrator, a resume that makes a positive impression every time, and a resume that will get you a job interview?  If you answered "Yes," then you'll want to check out Ace Your Teacher Resume (and Cover Letter) -