Why I Decided to Become a Teacher

Heggan 2“The word of an admired teacher carries more weight than anyone can imagine.” My sister Tracy (who is a Physical Education teacher at Eugene A. Tighe Middle School in Margate, New Jersey) said those words to me prior to my acceptance into the MST Program at Rowan University in 2014, and they have stuck with me ever since. Although I knew prior to 2014 that I wanted to change careers and become a teacher, those words cemented the feeling I already had in my heart:

I wanted to make a difference in the lives my students.

From 2005 to 2012, I worked at Adams, Rehmann and Heggan, a leader in the fields of surveying, engineering, GPS, and GIS services. Although I enjoyed my time there and loved working in the family business, it was time for a change. That change came for me when I accepted a job at the Hammonton Middle School as a paraprofessional aide for an autistic boy. Being back in the school setting was very surreal, but I felt like I was in the right place. I will forever be grateful for the then-Principal, Gene Miller, for giving me a chance. If he had given the job to someone else, I do not think I would be in the position I am today. I worked in the Middle School for a year and a half and absolutely loved my time there. The administration and staff there are exceptional and I believe they are one of the top middle schools in the area.

While working full-time, I was also taking classes at Atlantic Cape Community College and Camden County College. These classes were required for acceptance into the MST Program at Rowan University. I knew that if I could get through working full time, taking classes at night, and having a 2-year-old child at home, I could get through anything life would throw at me.

In 2014, I was accepted into the MST program where I was part of a cohort in which everyone was assiduous (means diligent) in accomplishing their goals of becoming successful teachers. From action research to edTPA to classes to no income to student teaching, every single person in that program deserves the award of student teacher of the year.

From that science and paraprofessional aide background, I knew then that I wanted to become a middle school science teacher. I wanted to teach my students about the wonders of the world and our universe. Carl Sagan once said that “We are all made of star stuff,” and if you ask any of my students, they could all tell you what that means. I felt back in 2013 and feel currently in 2015 that I am required as a teacher to inspire my students to use science to become whatever they want to be in this world. This has been my running goal since before leaving Adams, Rehmann and Heggan. If I could, as a teacher, motivate my students into falling in love with science and our universe (because I believe that venturing into space is our destiny), then my job as a teacher will be complete. Becoming a teacher was one of the only ways I could accomplish those goals.

Everyone is filled with experiences and those experiences are what make us who we are today. What led you to this profession? Share your experiences!

Rick Heggan is a 6th and 8th Grade Science Teacher in Medford Lakes, New Jersey and was named the 2015 KDP/ATE Student Teacher of the Year.

If you need a job for next fall, you need to attend the Job Search Summit (starting TOMORROW, Thursday, March 3, 2016) to learn about résumés, cover letters, finding a job, and interviewing.

I Learned to Sell My Skills and Myself to Get a Teaching Job – You Can Too!

I have been a Kappa Delta Pi member since fall 2010, and Kappa Delta Pi has been there for me for every step – from my year as chapter president through student teaching and getting a job and now helping me in my teaching career.

The Kappa Delta Pi Job Search Academy and New Teacher Community were excellent resources for me during my job search. At the beginning of my teaching career, I experienced a job loss and had to search for a new teaching position, which was a very stressful time for me.

My Kappa Delta Pi family was there for me, offering personalized mentoring, support, and encouragement that helped me obtain my current teaching position. Sally Rushmore took time to personally review my resume and do a mock interview over the phone with me. She showed me a different resume format that helped showcase my teaching and leadership skills in a more effective manner than the resume format I had been using.

Participating in the Job Search Academy also taught me to look for teaching opportunities beyond my local school district. My current position is in an elementary charter school, and I believe I would not have found my current position without the guidance and encouragement of the Job Search Academy.

The Job Search Academy took my talents and skills and taught me how to sell myself as an asset to schools. Using that I was able to obtain a wonderful position in which I can use my teaching and leadership skills to make a difference in my students’ lives every day.

Aubrie Simpson new pictureAubrie Simpson was President of the Psi Rho Chapter at Flagler College (St. Augustine, Florida) during the 2011-2012 school year. She wrote “The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing: Teacher Leadership Roles Lead to Student Success” in the Winter 2012 issue of the New Teacher Advocate. She is excited to be a kindergarten and ESE teacher at St. Paul School of Excellence in St. Augustine, FL.

Thanks to the Job Search Academy I Have a Job

The Job Search Academy gave me solid advice and support during my job search. The job search webinars (click on the library) were extremely helpful. In one webinar, the presenter stressed the importance of:

  • having the right information on the top portion of your resume,
  • how you should practice, practice, practice interviewing, and
  • having prepared answers to expected questions.

When I went to a group interview with human resources, all candidates were informed that teachers employed in the district had first choice of placement if they wanted to transfer to another school.That scared me.

I am extremely happy to report that at the second school where I interviewed, I was offered a position!

My advice to anyone searching for a job:
1. Follow the school district’s policy for employment (for example, elementary teacher candidates could not contact principals directly, until clearance from the district).
2. Attend all employment events (the school district had a seminar on interviewing).
3. Do not arrive at teacher recruitment fairs on time: ARRIVE EARLY!
4. Have your resumes ready and one page only. There are so many teacher candidates standing in line waiting to speak to a recruiter that recruiters do not have time to read more than one page. I attended 3 teacher recruitment fairs and watched recruiters place resumes in two separate areas – do call back and don’t call back.
5. Take your resume, teacher certification, and three reference letters all printed out to your interviews. The principals did take the time to read my references and many questions were referred back to my reference letters.
6. Recruiters and principals had one question that was always asked: “What will I see in your classroom the first week of school?”
7. Classroom management questions were asked in a variety of questions.

Ms. Tracey Wright picture KDPI’m Tracey Wright and I’m excited to be a first-year teacher!

If you want a job, take advantage of the Job Search Academy on KDP Global!

First Day of Summer 2015

Sally Rushmore taught science and math in grades 7-12 and computer applications in a community college. She currently is the Managing Editor for the New Teacher Advocate.

2 chaises and umbrella

“Teachers’ workday ends at 3 and they have all summer off.”

Have you ever heard people say this? What do teachers do in the summer? Some have to work another job, but most spend time relaxing and de-stressing, reconnecting with their own children and families, and preparing for the next school year. Here are some blogs with some good ideas for your summer. Enjoy!

What Teachers Really Do Over Summer Break by Outside the Box Teaching Ideas

This teacher asked her students to write about what teachers do over the summer break. Then she commented on what they wrote. It is both funny and poignant.

The Myth of Having Summers Off by Heather Wolpert-Gawron on Edutopia

This is a great list for recharging and de-stressing. Try just one of these ideas and you’ll feel refreshed.

The Teachers Guide to Summer Break: Tips for Fun, Relaxation, & Professional Development on Reading Horizons

Whether you want to relax, reconnect with friends and family, reflect on your teaching, or recharge with new ideas for the new year, this blog has good ideas.

Are you a new graduate? Do you need to make money this summer? How about some of these ideas?

25 Satisfying Summer Jobs for Teachers on the Rasmussen College website

10 Ways to Make Extra Summer Income for Educators by Jill Hare on Teaching Community

What are you doing this summer?

Sally Rushmore is a former teacher who is Managing Editor of the New Teacher Advocate. She also works with the Job Search Academy and New Teacher Community in KDP Global.

Anatomy of a Camp CounselorIf you are an education major who will be returning to college in the fall or you are a new graduate looking for a teaching job, this summer is the perfect time to beef up your résumé and really learn of your interests (and what you don’t want to do) in education.You may discover you love working with 1st and 2nd graders but really don’t want to work with 5th graders!

If you don’t have a summer job, consider some of the following:

  • Summer camps: Churches, YMCA’s, 4-H, Boy and Girl Scouts, and all types of organizations have summer camp experiences for kids. You can choose the type of camp and the age of the kids. Be a counselor and/or offer to teach a class, teach crafts, or even teach something more active like hiking, geocaching, horseback riding, or swimming if you are qualified.
  • Tutoring: Many of the tutoring companies (for example Sylvan) offer summer catch-up or keep-up type of tutoring that is more intense. Find out how you can become involved.
  • Hospitals: Children’s hospitals can use volunteers (and sometimes will pay) to play with and read to sick children.
  • Zoos: Most zoos offer education programs where you could do a summer internship.
  • Museums, Nature Sites, and Historical Sites: All types of museums, nature sites, and historical sites have programs to train and use college and high school students to work with visiting families or to offer special experiences for children.
  • State Department of Education: Some states offer summer jobs or internships.
  • State Fairs: Many state fairs are in production throughout the summer and hire college students to write hands-on programming or curriculum for young visitors.
  • Parks: Nearly all parks or park and recreation departments offer intense summer programming for kids (preK̵–6 or 8) with everything from day camp to swimming lessons to skateboarding instruction to exercise classes to craft classes. Look for the opportunity to teach or be with kids part of the day and work in the fitness center or lifeguard part of the day if you like variety.
  • Libraries: Another place to volunteer or work part or full time is your public library. Most offer some programming along with duties at a desk, shelving books, cataloging books, or even doing some cleaning chores.
  • U-Picks, Pumpkin Patches, and Orchards: Many of these are now open all summer and have weekend activities that include activities for children you can plan and implement and supervise. During the week, you may work a cash register, pick fruits and vegetables, or any number of chores.
  • Sewing, Craft, and Computer stores: Many stores now offer classes (for example, Michael’s) for kids and adults and even kid/adult combinations. You may be qualified to teach one, but they can usually use an extra person to help and will hire you to put out merchandise or operate a cash register when you are not working a class.
  • Ask everyone you know: You might be surprised! A friend of a friend may have her own company giving birthday parties and need a helper. Or a friend of your mom may work with autistic children and know that her company is looking for extra help in the summer. Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Horseback riding campLook on http://www.indeed.com, http://www.monster.com, and the websites of various companies and nonprofits (Google the nonprofit job site for your area too) to find “summer job” or “summer intern” or “seasonal.” Many of these jobs are filled in March and April, so if you find something you’d like to do, remember to ask when to apply next year and put it on your calendar. Then keep looking for something for this summer.

Even if you end up working at the neighborhood ice cream store, you can become a dependable employee and maybe even manage another couple of employees by the end of the summer. That’s great experience for classroom management!

Whatever you do this summer, put it on your résumé right away! And don’t just list it. Think about how you are impacting others through this job. Whether it was/is educational or not, how did you educate or influence someone? Think of two or three bullet points you can create to show what you learned or how you “educated” others. Remember education is far more than standing in front of people telling them what to do. It can be guiding, encouraging, planning, organizing, designing programs/curriculum, writing or planning lessons, inspiring, demonstrating, taking responsibility for a certain number of children, and so much more! When you do these types of jobs in the summer and volunteer or work part-time in such positions through the school year, you are creating experience and using your education and your experience in KDP to show real job experience before you ever apply for a teaching job. This is how you can set yourself apart from other applicants and have real experiences to relate as you answer interview questions.

By the way, share in the comments what you’ve found for a summer job and how it is helping you become a better teacher!

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