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!

Click the images to grab some of my favorite necessities!


 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 included 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!

Whitney Soboleski at Glitter and Glue 4 K-2 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


  1. How long after you applied online did you go to the principal/administrator and drop off your resume & brochure? Also when you go to drop off your resume and brochure did you wear a suit?

    1. I would say I took it in within a week or so and I did wear my suit in case I had a chance to talk with an administrator.

  2. What do you recommend if the job posting says "On-line applications only please."?

    1. Hmm. That's tough. I think in that case I still did something extra, maybe not everything listed above though. I think I still sent an email or contacted the school on those because I was so fed up with not hearing back from schools. Whatever you do though, make sure you're comfortable with it! If you think it is best to just do an application, then I would do that! Some online applications give you the option to upload extra files, in that case I would scan your brochure, like mine featured, and submit that so you have something extra to set you apart! Hope that helps! :)

  3. Hi there! First off, I am SO glad I stumbled across your blog! This is a huge help! I am currently in my final year of school (graduating with my elementary education degree). I will be going into my student teaching this spring. How do I go about applying for jobs while I am student teaching? My greatest fear is graduating and not having a job by the end of the summer! If you have any input on this, I would appreciate it! Thank you so much. :)

  4. Hi Lauren! I'm so glad this was helpful for you! I think I started submitting online applications maybe 1-2 months before I graduated. I just made sure to indicate my date of graduation! :) I think you can even get a letter from your school to state that you will be graduating on time. I would also start collecting evidence to put in a portfolio (pictures from lessons, sample plans, letters to parents) soon! The fact that you are already preparing for this will put you far ahead too! That way you can focus on applying rather than getting a resume and portfolio prepared at the last minute! Best of luck!! :)

  5. Hi Whitney, love your blog!
    If you already know the district you want to work in but are currently finishing student teaching and M.Ed program, do you have any tips on getting in touch with the administrators/principles? I met with the superintendent (family friend) to ask questions before I started my program, but now I know that it is where I want to end up for sure! I don't want to seem pushy/that I am expecting a job but would love to let them know my intentions and get my name out there!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Gabrielle! Thank you! I would just recommend keeping in touch and letting them know that is where you want to be! One phrase I used in my thank you notes when I followed up in my district was, "I want to reiterate my strong interest in working in your district." I also made sure to mention something specific about the district in my thank you note or you could even put it in your cover letter. It could be something, like a program, they are implementing and how you would contribute to it. That way they know that is where you want to be and you're not just sending them some generic letter! :)
      Best of luck!


  6. Hi Whitney!

    I am currently working as a literacy interventionist in an elementary school. I graduate in 2015 and worked in Texas for a year in an inner city middle school as a tutor and mentor. Now, I have been at my current school since August 2016.

    I've gone on a few job interviews and have been told I was really really close but they went with someone else. It seems I am competing with experience but how can I compete with experience when I can't get a teaching job that would give me that experience??

    I'm feeling really defeated.

    Thank you


    1. Hi Kelsey! My best advice is to take any classes that are related to your field that can give you some experience. Maybe you can even talk to some of the administrators at your current school to see what you can do to better your chances of getting hired? That could be taking on any additional roles in the school or classes! :)

      Best of luck!

      Glitter and Glue 4 K-2

  7. Hi Whitney! I am currently a paraprofessional for Kindergarten and am currently working on getting certified for early childhood. Since I am in technically in someone else's classroom, how would I go about getting student sample pieces for my portfolio? I am not responsible for the creation of lessons. etc. at this point so any ideas to include would be great. Thanks!

  8. Hi Angela! Thanks for reaching out! If you are not teaching any of the lessons, maybe you could ask the teacher you are working with if you could work with and create/provide some materials for some small groups? That way, you could show in your some extra responsibilities you have taken on and be able to show those work samples in your portfolio! Best of luck!! :)


  9. Hello! I was on Pinterest when I stumbled across your blog! I just completed my first semester of student teaching, and I am now on Christmas break. I will begin my final semester of student teaching in the spring before graduating. I am already anxious about finding a job because I would love to graduate knowing where I will be teaching in the Fall. I noticed in the above comments that you mentioned applying 1-2 months before graduation. However, I am wondering how soon is too soon to fill out applications? Thanks!

  10. Hi! I would probably say to start filling out the applications around 1-2 months before graduation or if you see any job postings earlier than that, you can apply then! Typically schools will begin pulling applications when they are ready to start looking so it never hurts to fill them out early! :)

  11. Hi, how many copes of your portfolio should you create? Or just have one?

  12. Hi, I love your portfolio covers!!! absolutely lovely. I'm a school nurse, is there any way I can edit it to say Nursing portfolio?