Staying positive while being unemployed is never easy. But it is a critical part of the process.
If you are one of the thousands of teachers who have been let go because of budget cuts, you are probably looking for another teaching job. Teaching is what you know. Teaching is what you love. After all, you sacrificed greatly to earn your degree. You could have gone into another profession or into business and made much more money. But your idealism and sense of service to your nation's future got the better of you. You became a teacher.
Unfortunately finding a new teaching position can be a very unsettling experience. Nothing is the same as it used to be. Years ago you became a teacher, went through a probationary period of several years then were granted tenure, generous benefits and a pension.
Then the economic meltdown of 2009 hit. And hit hard. School districts came to grips with budgets slashed deeply because of declining tax revenues. Suddenly thousands of teaching jobs were eliminated. Your job was one of them. It is a phenomenon which has struck just about everywhere. What is even worse is that the teaching jobs which are available often don't come with the kind of generous benefits and tenure which we all had grown accustomed to. That's pretty much a thing of the past in most parts of the country.
Use the following video and ones like it to begin to refine your interviewing techniques. You have to have the competitive edge even when interviewing for a teaching job.
The irony is that we as a nation have never needed talented teachers more than we do at the present time. Our students are doing poorly when compared to those around the world. That in turn creates labor problems as companies look outside America for well-qualified workers claiming that none are available here at home.
In any case we could discuss the education scene for days and still be no further ahead. So, what about you? How do you pick up the pieces and move on to a new situation?
A strategy for success
If you have decided to look for employment in the private school sector, you need to be aware of several things you must do in order to land a teaching job in a private school. The playing field is a lot more level these days, So considering a private school teaching job probably makes sense. Those jobs come with benefits, though not quite as generous as what you were used to. You will have to contribute towards your health care coverage and your retirement plan. You will receive a one year contract, perhaps a couple of years if you present credentials and qualifications which a school really needs. There will be no tenure.
You must work your network if you have not done so already. Your network will alert you to open positions and should be able to give you some information about those positions. Your network might be familiar with the school and the way it operates. That will be helpful.
Offer in-demand skills and certifications.
This is one of the most effective strategies for finding a new teaching position. Offer expertise and certifications in STEM subjects and you will probably get looked at. Offer physical education and you might find yourself being overlooked. Sometimes you have to think outside the box as this short video clip recommends.
I can never stress this enough: get involved and stay involved. Join affinity groups in our profession. Participate in discussions. Attend regional professional gatherings. Keep your name out front and visible. The strategy here is simple: make colleagues and folks you meet online think "We need this person!". It really does work.
Connecting with colleagues and others in the profession around the country is important not just for finding a job. It is important for keeping your spirits up. That is one of the toughest parts of being employed: keeping your spirits up and staying positive. So, working your network is a critical part of both finding a job and keeping your spirits up. Attend regional and national private school conferences. They offer an excellent opportunity to meet employers and, hopefully, line up some interviews.
Use your down time to retrain and add desirable skill sets to your portfolio of credentials. For example, being a Spanish teacher is a great start. But being a Spanish teacher who is an ESL specialist adds a whole other dimension to your desirability.
Use your down time to stay involved by substitute teaching and tutoring. It will keep your skills sharp and may just introduce you to a future employer. It is always easier to hire somebody you have seen teach then somebody you really don't know much about.
Keep your spirits up
Never ever stop believing in yourself. You will find that new job. It may take longer than you originally thought, but you will find it. Surround yourself with positive influences. Avoid the negative. It is easy to give in to feelings of self-pity. It is normal to feel angry and frustrated at the situation in which you find yourself. However, you must learn to tune out those feelings. Focus on the small achievements you make every day to get yourself closer to your goal. Disregard the negative. If you let negative feelings drive your thinking, the downward spiral will begin. Hopefully the following video will make you realize that what you are experiencing is something thousands of other people are experiencing as well.
A positive, can do personality will create a favorable impression. You need to create lots of favorable impressions wherever you go and in whatever circles you find yourself. If people think of you as that well-credentialed, agreeable, willing to take on any challenge kind of person, they will remember you. You just never know when a headmaster might be expressing his dismay about losing a teacher to somebody who will turn to him and say "You need to interview Sally. She's just the person you are looking for."
These are tough times. But as Baron Marcel Bich the pen manufacturer once said "Quand le chemin devient dur, les durs se cheminent!" which being translated is "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." A good friend of mine always counsels me to color outside the lines. What does she mean? She is suggesting that I be creative and is encouraging me to think outside the box. Many times I have found a solution to whatever challenge was facing me by doing just that: coloring outside the lines.
Have questions? You can contact me via Twitter @privateschl
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