Sunday, May 21, 2017

5 Tips to Stand out and Get Your Dream Teaching Job!

Hellooo future teacher! Congrats to you on completing your student teaching and degree! You are about to begin one of the best and most rewarding careers (at least in my opinion!) I know you have completed a tough several years and are eager to get your own classroom! I know, because I was in your shoes about five years ago....

As soon as I graduated, I started applying for jobs online. I would fill out the application on the school's website and wait to hear back from the school.  I soon became discouraged because I didn't get a single response for even an interview. Luckily, I was offered an assistantship to get my Master's Degree and was able to put the job search off for another year. I was so blessed to get the opportunity for so many reasons! I was extremely fortunate because my assistantship gave me the opportunity to connect with some amazing teachers, professors, and future teachers who showed me that I was applying for jobs all wrong! I'm going to share my biggest mistakes as I applied for jobs and give you some tips to stand out in your interview process!

*Please note, I'm sharing what worked for me in my job search.

1. Of course you need to...

Be sure to do the obvious...create a resume, write a basic cover letter that you can easily tweak as you apply to schools,  type up your references with all of their info in one place, get your letters of recommendations together. If you don't have letters of recommendation-be sure to ask for them now! Don't forget to get permission from your references to use them too! Spend the extra money and buy some resume paper! Print your resume, references, and cover letters on this paper! I know it can get expensive but it's worth it!

2. Set yourself apart and get the interview!

When I applied for jobs, my first mistake was just applying online and waiting around! I look back and I realize what a silly mistake that was! In order to even get an interview, administrators want to see that you are dedicated and willing to go that extra mile! If the expectation is to fill out the online application, then you need to do that and go above and beyond! Email the administrators directly to reiterate your interest, go in to the school and personally drop off your resume, send brochures or something extra with your resume (see below)and let administrators get to know you! Check out the brochure I created below! Sorry I wasn't able to make this an editable template. Don't worry though, you can find a template in Microsoft Word that you can edit. Some things I included on my brochure were: photos of me teaching, why I became a teacher, career experience, relevant skills and training, my contact information, the degrees and certificates I obtained, and references.

Don't worry, you're not being pushy, you're setting yourself apart from everyone who is just applying! The point is, you need to do more than just fill out the application to make yourself stand out! Be unique and show your personality! 

3. Once you've got your interview, time to get ready!

When I started applying for jobs I was told by several people to not even bother putting together a portfolio. I was told that administrators don't even bother looking at them. Um.... wrong! Of course the people you are interviewing with won't take the time to sit there and look at every page in your portfolio. It's up to you to put meaningful items in your teaching portfolio that you can easily talk about. Don't just try to fill pages in your portfolio. Include items that administrators want to see. Do your research and look up commonly asked interview questions for the grade level or area that you specialize in. As an intervention specialist, I knew I would be asked about writing IEPs. I made sure to include an IEP I had written in my portfolio. (If you plan to do this too, be sure to delete or hide ALL confidential information. That includes: school districts, names, addresses, and more.)

I can tell you that at every interview, I was almost always asked about these topics: classroom management, lesson planning, professional development, and communication with parents. Since these topics are so important to teaching and so commonly asked about, I made sure to include information about each one in my portfolio! As your interviewers ask you about these topics, open up your portfolio to these pages! It is a great visual for administrators and it makes it easier for you to discuss each topic. Not to mention, it shows you are prepared, creative, and willing to put in the extra work! For example, if you are asked, "what does a typical lesson look like?" You can show the administrator a typed out lesson plan (complete with objectives, assessments, and all that good stuff!) along with photos and student work samples. Even if you're not in a teaching position, be sure to start collecting these things now from your student teaching!

If you are looking for some ideas of things to include in a portfolio, some options are: copies of your resume, copies of your references, letters of recommendation, communication with parents, lesson plans, student work samples, classroom management information,  a sample IEP, professional development certificates, Praxis or testing scores, college transcripts, evaluations and observations, resources you have created, a copy of you teaching license, a disc or QR Code with a link to a video of you teaching a lesson. One thing I have commonly notified in many teaching portfolios is a nicely typed out paper on the individuals' educational philosophy. Although this is great information, I can tell you that your interviewer will not likely sit there and read your entire paper. It's best just to know this information and work it in to your talking points as you interview. I would recommend saving this space for something else. Obviously, what you put in your portfolio will change depending on your specialty. Be sure to do your research and carefully select what you put in your portfolio!

4. Organize that portfolio!

Now that you have selected what will go in your portfolio, make it look nice! Invest in a big binder to put everything in and get some tabs to separate out each section. Don't forget to get some page protectors for each page (I might be slightly addicted to page protectors.) Be sure to give it a nice cover page and add a table of contents. I created mine using Microsoft Word! Don't worry I've included a few different options for the cover page and what I used for my table of contents free! Click here to get the cover and table of contents template!

When I made my portfolio, I started with the table of contents. I numbered all of the sections on one page so I could easily find everything. I purchased binder tabs with numbers so I could place each section behind the numbered tabs. 

Table of contents I used in my portfolio

Check out some examples of what I include in my portfolio. Please note, some things are blacked out to keep students' identities private. I did obtain parental permission to include students photos in my portfolio. You may want to send a letter home to the parents of your students to get this permission as well. Bonus: you can use this letter under your "communication with parents" tab in your portfolio. :) Get the letter free by clicking below! Please keep in mind I did not place my copyright on the letter because I thought it would be too intrusive. Even though it is not there, please respect my work and terms of use. :)  Get the letter free here!

Get this letter free!

Below are some pages I included in my teaching portfolio. Hope they can give you some inspiration! Whatever you do, make it yours! I like to create things digitally so that's how mine turned out. Looking back, it's not the most beautifully done but it showed employers that I can create things digitally and am (somewhat) tech savvy.  Maybe you're a big scrapbooker? Make your portfolio scrapbookie!... I know that's not a word but you get my point! Make it unique and reflective of your personality! 

Contact cards.
I was able to give these out or my interviewers could take them.
Sample lesson plan 
Photos from a lesson

A student work sample. 

Don't forget to add a cover! I tried to keep mine simple but still show my personality. I added my name, number, and email to the cover. I also added my favorite quote about teaching. Below you can use my editable template or create your own and just use mine as inspiration! 

Click here to get this free!

5. Don't forget to follow up...

After you have had your interview, be sure to follow up within 24 hours. Don't let them forget about you! Some people suggest an email others suggest a handwritten thank you card. I suggest doing both! Neither has to be too long. Just be sure to reiterate your interest in the teaching position and mention something specific that you talked about while you interviewed.

You can do it!

Well I hope these resources and the information will help you in your job search. If I can leave you with one more piece of advice... Don't get discouraged if you don't get an interview, job offer, or exactly what you are looking for right away! Just keep trying and continue to better yourself as a teacher! I can tell you from personal experience that it is not easy but all of your hard work will pay off. Soon you will be doing what you love!

 Feel free to leave me any questions in the comments!

Best of luck!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Creating a Calm Down Bottle in the Classroom...and Making it Educational!

Hi everyone! How beautiful are those calm down bottles that have been all over Pinterest!?! They are so much fun to make and are a great tool if you have students who need some guidance regulating their emotions. If students are feeling angry, frustrated, or anxious they just shake up the bottle and watch the glitter settle. It is a great little break for your little ones!

I love creating things and having fun with my students!! Unfortunately, with all of the demands placed on us as teachers and the limited time we have, it's easy to feel guilty when you give up class time to do a fun craftivity! If this is something you have felt guilty about, don't worry! I've got some tips and resources to make this into a fun, creative, and academically appropriate lesson! Yay!

Glitter and bright colors. What's not to love?

To alleviate some of my "teacher guilt" regarding not making this lesson academic, I targeted a few areas my students needed that would fit with the activity. My students need work on: comprehension, writing, and following directions. To address comprehension I framed this activity as a sequencing lesson that also targeted some direction following. When we finished, we were able to write about what we did.

To start the lesson, I show my students the finished bottle and what we will be creating. I them tell them that I have some bad news... all of the steps got out of order and now I don't know how to make the calm down bottle! Oh no...

 I have all seven of the steps to create the bottles mixed up in my pocket chart and some of the steps on the floor. I tell my students the pocket chart tipped over.... Of course they are eager to help put it together!
All mixed up!?! Have your students help you fix it first!
Get the steps ready to be printed by clicking the photo.
*If you don't have a pocket chart, you can always glue the steps in order to a piece of large paper or posterboard.

Next, we work together to put the steps in order. If students mix up the order of the steps, we talk through it and I can model whether or not the step would work. For example, if she students suggest shaking up the bottle before you put the lid on, you can talk about what would happen! It's a great way to show students the importance of sequencing all the steps in order!

Once, the steps are in order, we are ready to make the bottles! If you have a smaller number of students or can get some donations for things like water bottles, you can have students make their own! If you have a larger class, you can always make one bottle together! Get a letter to ask for donations here!

Here is what you will need to get started....

Before you get started, be sure to put down some newspaper or paper to catch any excess glitter or spills! Really... learn from my mistake! I had glitter everywhere the first time I made them! I would also recommend getting a funnel to add the glitter to your bottle.

First, you will need to warm up the water that will be added to the bottles. It doesn't have to be warm but it does help the glitter glue to separate. You can always just make sure you are getting warm water from the faucet.

Then, add in some food coloring. I add in about 3-5 drops per bottle but you can look at it to see what it needs! If it's a lighter color you may need to add more.

I love glitter glue! Who would have guessed?!

Then, we squeezed in some glitter glue! I used the little "tubes" of glitter glue (seen above) and had the kids add about half of the tube. Again, how much you add will depend on the size of your bottle. You can estimate as you look at it!

Next, it is time to add the loose glitter.....the prettiest but potentially messiest step! To save on the messiness, I would show your students the correct way to add the glitter! I tell them to "sprinkle" it rather than just "dump" the bottle. My BIGGEST tip for this entire craft is to GET A FUNNLE to add the glitter with. Seriously it makes a huge difference. If you don't have one, make one out of paper. Check out my homemade funnel above. Super easy!

Optional: add some little stars or fun shaped glitter. 

Then, twist those lids on TIGHT! I have my students put them on, then I check them. After I check them, I hot glue them on. Yes, I am paranoid about having a glitter glue neon cocktail all over the place.

I tell my students from the beginning to wait to shake up the bottles! Of course this is the last step in the sequencing but I am always afraid someone will shake their bottle too early. To avoid this, I tell my students we will shake them all together. Once everyones' lid has been checked and glued on we count to three and shake them... everyones' favorite part!!

Don't forget to add the tags!

When you're finished, add a tag or the cute labels seen above! Get them here!

So now that you have worked with your students on sequencing the steps. They can complete the sequencing activities below!

I have two options, one with pictures and one with sentences. You can choose one option or differentiate. Get the activities by clicking any of the pictures.

To integrate some writing, students can write about what they did to create their calm down bottles!

If you are interested in using some of the tools seen above, be sure to check out my TPT shop!

Happy teaching,

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Goldfishin' with Addition

Hey everyone! What is it about those Goldfish Crackers that kiddos love? I mean, seriously, the kids go CRAZY for them! Since these are so popular with my students, they are a great motivator! 
There are so many great ways to use these crackers in your classroom! Since I'm working on adding with one of my students, these fit in perfectly in one of our lessons. One problem I have had when teaching addition is getting students to use their strategies. Using manipulatives is always a great strategy to begin with so... Goldfishin' for addition began! 

Go big or go home! Gotta get the carton...

To get started with some fishin' for addition, you will need: Goldfish Crackers (I bought the carton seen above), paper clips, pencils, recording sheets, and an addition mat to place the goldfish on. Don't worry, you can download the recording sheets and addition mat free towards the end of this blog post!

Make sure you print and copy enough recording sheets for your students. You may want to laminate the addition mat. I've included a black and white version if you don't have access to a color printer. 

Spinning to find the addends 

To get started, students will use their paperclip and pencil to spin to find their addends. They can record the numbers on the recording sheet to make an addition sentence. 

Once students have their addition sentence, they can use the Goldfish Crackers as counters. They can model their addition sentence in each fish bowl. 

Counting them up

Record the answer

Once the addition sentence has been modeled with the manipulaitves, students will count them up to find their answer. They can record their answer on the line. 

Of course the big questions is always, "Can I eat them now?" Letting your students eat up all of the manipulatives definitely makes for an easy clean up! Fun, engaging, and easy clean up!? Yes, please!

To get this just click the image below or here! If you want to grab this later, you can also pin the image below to save it! 

Happy Teaching,