1. You will not have a job in May. Breathe.
Perhaps you’re a self-driven “go-getter” who just knows in your heart you’re going to be one of the few with a job. That’s great — be determined, but know that the system you’re headed toward does not always reward go-getters, and you’ll often feel like you’re speeding up to a red light. The people who are graduating with a job are either student teaching at a school that has an opening, their cooperating teacher is head of the department, or they return to a school they themselves attended. There is nothing wrong with using connections, but if you’re not in the one of the above three categories, it is a tough process to get your foot in the door. Thousands of teachers just like you go through this process every year. Breathe, and you will be fine.
2. There will always be peaks and valleys.
There will be days where you get that email, or a principal will leave a voicemail, and you will feel as if you have vanquished a monster every time. Those are glorious times in the kingdom.
Know this: it is not personal, there is nothing wrong with you. Keep up the good fight.
3. Take Sundays for you.
In the mad, stressful search that is finding your first teaching position, take Sundays for you. Go to the movies, hang out with friends, go swimming. Whatever the case may be, you will never get anything accomplished on a Sunday, so you might as well take the day to unwind and enjoy what little summer you have. A lot of your search is going to be about balance and not stressing yourself out into a panic. Taking one day a week is a very manageable way to organize your time and make sure you’re not going to get burned out before you even begin.
4. Everyone's a critic.
5. Learn to love the hoops.
- You attend a career fair and have a 5-minute meet and greet with school or district personnel,
- They schedule a follow-up interview (usually lasting about 30-40 minutes).
- After that interview, you make it to the second round, which is a 20 minute teaching demonstration lesson, followed by an hour-long debrief on your lesson’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Finally, they narrow it down to two candidates, and you interview an additional time for the position, then wait a week and a half while the principal/admin team makes their decision for which you have a 50/50 shot.
6. There aren’t always right answers
When looking for your first teaching job out of college, it is hard to get out of that “right/wrong, black/white, yes/no” mentality. In your education classes, there were most often right or wrong answers. However, in interviews with principals (especially those earlier in the process) they are usually looking for how you think or how you shape your ideas/philosophy over time. Answer the questions as succinctly and honestly as you can. Sometimes, they may ask a question you know nothing about, such as a specific theory or score-reporting software. In these cases, just admit you’re unfamiliar with whatever concept they are asking you about, but are willing to do some independent research. Hundreds of applicants will be "B.S.-ing" answers to these questions, and most principals will thank you for your honesty. Get out of that “right/wrong” dichotomy because puts a lot more stress on you. There is, of course, the possibility that whoever is interviewing you will hate all your answers, and that’s fine (see #7); that just means it’s somewhere you don’t want to be, or wouldn’t “gel” well with the rest of the staff.
7. Go to every interview.
After working your way through May and June and maybe even early July, you will finally start to get some traction. Schools will start calling you back slowly but surely. Think of it as the first snowflake of an avalanche, or the first drop in a rainstorm, or whatever various “more will come” metaphor you prefer. You start to hack your way through the jungle of hoops and a few schools tell you you’re being “highly considered” or “you’re the favorite candidate for this position.” That is great news! However, be wary of ever assuming you’ve got a job in the bag. There may be a point where you’re so sure one school wants to hire you, and then you’ll get another call. Go to that interview. Until your signature is ink on paper, keep jumping through the hoops. Sometimes the best school will contact you later in the year, and it might end up being the best thing for you. The universe is a random and chaotic place, so keep as many options open as possible and be careful about shutting doors too quickly.