Teacher-Speak: Using Academic Language in Your Job Search

Anna Quinzio-Zafran

Anna Quiznio-ZafranAnna Quinzio-Zafran, a National Board Certified Teacher, recently retired after 36 years with Coal City Community Unit #1 Schools from her roles as teacher and K–5 Language Arts Coordinator. She is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction focusing on Teacher Education from Northern Illinois University.

A friend recently told me about a recent graduate who went to her first job interview. She was certified K−6 and had a K−6 Reading certification. As the Director of Human Resources asked her questions, she answered in generic or lay terms. He was looking for her to use words and phrases like tiered instruction, scaffolding, RTI, and leveled readers. He never heard any of those words, but she understood the concepts and was passionate about helping students learn to read. Did she get a job? No, not yet. First, he sent her to study a website that clearly and simply explained the concepts and terms she needed to be using and gave concrete examples and scenarios. Then he graciously worked with her informally. Finally, he pronounced her ready to interview with the principals in his district. She was very lucky. In the process of getting a job, she learned how to put into practice all the things she learned in college!

Are you afraid to use the terminology you’ve read in textbooks or written papers about or heard your professors use? Academic language is the language of power. Prospective employers are looking for candidates who present themselves professionally. While language use has increasingly become less formal socially, it remains important to express oneself in a more sophisticated way in professional settings.

Interview teams will be confident that an applicant can participate in discourse with coworkers and act as a good language model for students when that applicant displays a strong proficiency of academic language in his/her resume, cover letter, and interview. It is critical to your success to comfortably use the terminology of teachers when talking with teachers and administrators.

Join me March 14 at 3:00 PM Eastern for a webinar that will provide pointers on communicating effectively to make a good impression in your job search. You will learn:

  • What is meant by academic language.
  • How to learn the academic language interviewers want to hear.
  • How to become comfortable using academic language.
  • How to project professionalism in your résumé and interview.

This webinar will be a good basis for continuing your learning process in KDP Global’s Job Search Academy. Log in and read posts and contribute to the discussion or ask questions.

There are four webinars. Choose one or more. Find out how to qualify for a resume review. http://www.kdp.org/events/jobsearchsummit2015.php

Got a Minute? Week of March 9, 2015

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Got a Minute? Week of February 23, 2015

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Networking: Old Style and New

Jack Kronser has recently retired as Director of Human Resources at Aurora Public Schools near Denver, Colorado. He has hired hundreds of teachers.

jack kronserAmong the many skills needed to be successful in the teaching profession is the ability to navigate networks. Networking is defined  as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically, the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”

Career opportunities in any profession are impacted by networks. Teaching is no exception. Long before official word gets out regarding job vacancies, word of potential career opportunities are out in the network, both formally and informally. For someone just starting out in teaching, or desiring to make a move (up or laterally), it is important to be networked as well. How do you create your network and become included in the networks you desire?

  • Field Experiences. Prior to and including your student teaching, you probably spent time in five or six different schools on “field experiences.” Teachers, principals, and support staff you met or observed need to be a part of your network. Keep a file of their names, positions, and contact information.
  • Student Teaching. Everyone knows how important student teaching is for launching your career. But did you make it a point to meet and talk with as many teachers, staff, and administrators as you could while you were student teaching? Did you attend trainings or meetings outside the building where you student taught—and meet more teachers and staff? Stay in touch with these people. Add all of them to your file.
  • Principal and Assistant Principal Contacts. Get to know the principal and assistant principal in the building where you student teach. Reaching out to them is the first step in your being able to demonstrate your qualifications which can lead to job opportunities or recommendations to other administrators. Add them to your file.
  • Professional Organizations. Become active in teacher organizations like KDP and the organization for whatever you teach, such as the National Council for Teachers of English. Most of these content-area associations have student memberships and can help you learn who the well-respected teachers in that area are. If you become active, you will gain skills you can add to your résumé and you will meet people from all areas of the country or state you can add to your file.
  • Seminars/Job Fairs. Teacher job fairs (at your college or in communities) are one of the very best places to personalize your job search process. Many new hires first made connection with a school district at an education job fair. Add specific names, emails, phone numbers, and district information for everyone you talked with to your file.
  • Social Networks. Take advantage of social networks like LinkedIn to let your availability and qualifications be known and to find openings. Use your Facebook page in a professional manner. Google yourself to see what an HR Director will see.

Join me for a training webinar on networking as part of the Job Search Summit on Saturday, February 28 at 5 p.m. (EST). See the rest of the line-up and find out how to get a résumé review in the Job Search Summit.

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What’s a Professional Profile? Learn at the Job Search Summit!

Dr. Mary C. Clement has been researching and writing about teacher hiring and induction for more than 20 years. Her work has resulted in 11 books and more than 125 articles. Her Job Search Summit webinar on résumés and professional profiles will be Saturday, February 28, 2015, at 11 a.m.

JSSGone are the days when teachers got multiple job offers by just completing student teaching and going to a job fair. Teacher candidates need to develop strong résumés that are customized to job advertisements, recognizing that their unique experience and training should start the résumé.

What goes at the top of a résumé today? What do you say at the beginning of an interview? What do you say during a one-minute elevator speech when you meet an administrator in his office or at a job fair? The answer to all those questions may be the same—your professional profile. Busy employers may only glance at your résumé and recruiters have only a few minutes to decide if you merit further consideration, so having one to two lines that summarize your teaching skills and qualifications can make the difference when it comes to being noticed in a positive way.

The professional profile, or profile statement, is more than a job objective or a statement about your teaching credentials. It is “you at a glance,” and something in it should catch the evaluator’s eye. In large school districts, an administrative assistant/secretary may sort the résumés, after receiving instructions to read only the top of the résumé to determine candidates’ qualifications.

A strong professional profile reveals a lot about the candidate, and encourages the evaluator to read the entire résumé. The rest of the résumé will include specific information about education, teaching, other work experiences, and special skills.

Kappa Delta Pi hosted a very successful Job Search Summit in 2014 and has an even better one planned for early 2015. Join me, or Dr. Benitha Jones, as we talk about creating your résumé and cover letter. I will focus more on the résumé of a first job seeker in teaching and Dr. Jones will focus more on the person applying for a leadership position like assistant principal or new faculty member at a college, so hers will include information on creating a curriculum vitae. In both cases, we will go through the parts of the résumé, how to decide what to put in your personal professional profile, and how to match it and your cover letter to the opening the school actually has.

My webinar will be Saturday, February 28, 2015, at 11 a.m., followed by webinars on working job fairs, turning your present situation (substitute teacher, instructional aide, or retail worker) into your dream teaching job, and networking tips. Dr. Jones will present her webinar at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, 2015. Prior to hers will be a webinar on how to create a video that really shows how you teach and how to put together an ePortfolio that will help you get a job. After hers will be webinars on using academic language on your paperwork and in your interview and on your personal commercial for starting or ending your interview.

By attending one of the résumé webinars and one of the other webinars, being a current member of KDP, completing a survey, and posting in KDP Global’s Job Search Academy (either a question or comment), you will be eligible to submit your résumé for a professional review in preparation for the teacher job hunting season!

Watch the KDP website for registration information and mark Feb. 28 and Mar. 14, 2015, as days you cannot miss!