It is never too early to begin to think about your first teaching position. A good place to begin is to keep copies in a personal file of all important documents that relate to your professional development. Your cooperating teacher for both Sophomore and Junior Field Experience will complete an evaluation of your performance. Their Evaluation Forms are filed in your departmental advising folder. You are entitled to see these and to make copies for your files. It is also a good idea to ask your cooperating teachers to write letters of recommendation for you. You should keep a copy and have a copy placed in your departmental advising folder. You might ask for additional letters of recommendation from other people who have knowledge of your ability and experience, such as school principals, vice principals or supervisors.
Your cooperating teacher for student teaching will also be submitting evaluation forms that you are entitled to copy and place in your folder.
You should also keep copies of lesson plans or special projects that you complete for any of your education courses or field experiences. This should include photographs of bulletin boards or projects that you conduct on your field experiences.
Upon your official acceptance as an Elementary Education major or a Secondary Education minor, you will pay a one-time fee of $100.00 for the TK20 e-portfolio system. All material submitted in TK20 will be available to you for seven years.
You should also begin writing your resume as early as the end of sophomore year and then revise it periodically as you gain new experiences.
A number of school districts are asking candidates to whom they are offering employment to present a professional portfolio at their interview. A professional portfolio is a collection of evidence that documents your interest and ability in teaching. The earlier in your University career that you start your portfolio, the more it will represent your concern for children and dedication to teaching as a profession. You should begin very early collecting and filing your class and field work for inclusion in your portfolio. The material that you collect in your personal folder is an excellent starting point for a professional portfolio. Photographs, video tapes, lesson plans and projects should be kept to serve as documentation for prospective employees.
The following is a sample of evidence that might be included in a professional portfolio:
- A Statement of Your Philosophy of Education
- Your resume
- Letters of Recommendation
- Extracurricular Activities
- Community Involvement
- Subject Area Statements
- Sample Letter to Parents
- Theme Development Chart
- Pictures of Bulletin Boards
- Philosophy of Classroom Management/Classroom Discipline
Letters of Recommendation
You should plan ahead to request letters of recommendation from professionals who can comment on your work in the classroom, as both a student and a teacher. Allow the person writing the letter plenty of time to write what you need. If the reference is for a specific position, provide the person a short note mentioning the areas you would like included in the letter. By doing this, you can assure that each letter will speak to different skills and attributes which will help hiring officials get a complete picture of your talents. (Three letters which all say that you’re wonderful are not particularly useful to hiring officials trying to select the best teacher from among a large applicant pool. They need specifics.)
Give each person writing a letter of recommendation a copy of your resume and any other information which might be helpful as they write your letters.
Provide your references with deadlines and with correctly addressed envelopes with postage.
Be sure to write your references thank-you notes to let them know that you appreciate their time and effort.
Good resumes have many characteristics in common. They are one or two pages in length, free of typographical errors and produced on high-quality bond paper. The good resume accentuates your most salient qualities and qualifications, is organized and easy to read and conveys a sense of who you are.
Statement of Teaching Objective. It is appropriate to include a “Career Objective” or “Teaching Objective” statement to your resume. While optional, this statement is highly recommended because it helps identify the specific areas you wish to teach.
Example: Seeking a classroom position in the upper elementary grades that provides an opportunity to facilitate academic, social and personal growth of students.
Student Teaching Information. It is important that beginning teachers provide information about their student teaching experiences. You should provide pertinent details of your experiences beyond the routine aspects. Provide information that demonstrates ways in which you made yourself valuable. Focus on how your presence made something better to make your experience stand out from those who merely developed lesson plans and assisted teachers.
Example: Washington High School, Jersey City, NJ, Student Teacher, January – May, 2010
Observed, assisted and taught regular and accelerated classes. Developed daily lesson and unit plans. Assisted in the after-school tutoring program. Coordinated a revised parent conference format that increased teacher-parent interaction. Refined an existing computer database for classroom record keeping.
Past Employment Information. As a prospective teacher, you should include any experiences in which you worked with K-12 age individuals. Examples of pertinent positions would include camp counselor, teacher’s aide, tutor, Scout troop leader and so forth. Many candidates dismiss non-teaching experiences as unrelated and fail to include them on their resumes. However, school administrators can draw valuable inferences regarding your work habits from this information.
Related Activities and Interests. Information about activities and interests helps you present the image of a well-rounded and versatile teacher. The following categories represent just a few of the areas you may want to include: Volunteer Activities, Professional Memberships, Special Interests, Honors and Awards, Special Training, Study Abroad, Community Involvement, Fluency in Languages Other Than English, Computer Skills, Leadership Activities, Class Projects and Scholarships.
When your resume is complete, print your final copy on a laser-jet or ink-jet printer. If you are sending out a large number of copies, you should consider having copies made at a printing service on high-quality bond paper. Conservative paper – white, off-white or ivory – is always suitable. Be sure to purchase blank paper and envelopes which match your resume so your cover letter will also match your presentation package.
Cover letters are absolutely necessary any time you send your resume and/or application forms to an employer. A cover letter introduces you and informs the reader why you are forwarding your resume. It also identifies the position for which you want to be considered.
Think of the cover letter as having three parts. The first paragraph introduces you and the letter. You need to mention why you are submitting your resume or application. Let the reader know how you heard of the opening.
The body of the letter contains the main selling points. The cover letter should highlight your resume by drawing the reader’s attention to your most important qualifications, ensuring that these points are not overlooked. Expand on the points that may be of special interest to this particular reader. Typical items for the body of the letter include information on your degree, major and certification area, other academic highlights and honors, experience and personal strengths. It is a good idea to mention why you are interested in a particular opening or school district.
The closing paragraph should mention your interest in an interview or whatever next step you would like to have occur (for example, you might request further information or have an application sent to you). Mention that your resume is enclosed if you have not already done so.
The stationery for your resume and cover letter should match. You may want to get matching envelopes as well. An alternative is to use large manila envelopes so that your applications arrive crisp and uncreased. Remember, your cover letter is often your first contact with an employer. Your cover letters can be effective tools in your job search.
Office of Career Services
The Office of Career Services, 104 Glenwood Avenue, provides free counseling in resume writing, cover letters and interview techniques. You can call them at 201-761-6400 for an appointment.
If you wish to send resumes to any public school districts or Catholic schools, the Department of Education has an extensive list of schools and addresses that you may copy.