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Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

LINKS: Blogger
Canadian Chalkboard
Coffee, Calculations and Colombia!
Mewlings
Progressively Unnecessary
TeacHer Finance
It's Not All Flowers and Sausages
So You Want To Teach?
Classroom Confessions
Teach Hub
Web English Teacher
Blogging the Renaissance


ARCHIVES: June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 March 2010

The Job Hunt - Part Two of Many
Monday, June 22, 2009

As our titles indicate, we will be updating out tips on job hunting as they come to us (you lucky lucky readers). But first, a bit of background...

From our personal descriptions atop this blog, you all know that Courtney and I are both English teachers. Courtney's second teachable is History (which isn't exactly a great deal more marketable than English) and my second teachable is Music (a subject that I have come to realize I am not altogether too keen on teaching though this may change in the future). But we have to be honest, we both love teaching English.

Without doing actual research into job availability (statistics I am not altogether too keen on knowing just yet), I am at least aware that job prospects are not looking too great. I once had a colleague who said something like "Being an English teacher is like being a pitcher in baseball - we're a dime a dozen." Now, while this may be true, GOOD pitchers also get paid over $20 million a year. As good English teachers, we are perhaps slightly less ambitious about our annual salary... but here's a good segue into my collection of tips (a shorter list because Courtney's list is already pretty awesome):

11. Be a good teacher. This might seem self-evident but you'd be surprised. It's a lot easier to enter the job market knowing that if you don't get hired, it won't be because of any personal fault in your aptitude/ability as a teacher. So be critical of your teaching style/technique NOW (I speak to teacher candidates particularly). Did your host teacher tell you an area you can improve upon? Are you constantly looking for new and better ways to engage your class?

12. Do the extra work. I remember talking to some teacher candidates during second and third year. And I remember them telling me that it got a bit boring because second year only requires you to teach 3 classes (not 3 days) in a 3-week teaching block and third year only requires you to teach 5 classes in the same 3-week teaching block. It doesn't take a mathematician to realize that if you only did the bare minimum, you would have been bored and unproductive. Host-teachers are only too happy to let you teach more classes (particularly if you prove yourself to be a good teacher; see tip #11 above) so take 'em! You get extra practice, it shows initiative, and it's just plain BETTER than sitting there. I don't remember how many classes I taught during third year prac but I was definitely working full days at one point (3 classes a day) and semi-full days at other times (2 classes a day). And if you can't find extra classes to teach, ask your host teacher if he/she can get you started on curriculum planning for an entire school year.

13. Stay in touch with employers/associate teachers. Every 6 months, I email a former camp employer (Arnie Garfin), a former host teacher (Ms. Valencia), a former host principal (Mr. Dickson), and a former professor (Dr. Morrison). Do not lose contacts with people who have seen you in action. These are the people who can not only vouch for your ability and initiative, but will be able to prove conclusively that you've been a good teacher for much longer than the past 6 months.

14. Have a good relationship with your parents. Surprised? Don't be. Parents are awesome. It's also nice to feel like you won't be living on the streets if you don't find a job the instant you graduate. I know this isn't exactly a tip on job hunting, but it does help reduce panic about unemployment.

15. Have confidence in yourself. This is far easier to accomplish if you've done #11 and #12. The reality is that there are more people looking for jobs than there are job openings. Come to grips with this early (Courtney and I are doing this now in hopes that we aren't caught off guard by this next year) and understand that just because you don't get hired doesn't mean you're a bad teacher! Unless you really are a bad teacher. Then I would like to redirect your attention to #11, which you must have skipped over in your haste to get to #15. This might seem self-evident too but I also recognize: get battered with rejection too many times and even the best teachers can convince themselves that they're not good enough. Don't do this. Like Courtney says, stay positive, persevere, and laugh at yourself once in awhile. If you really are a good teacher, you won't stay unemployed forever.

The job hunt is hard. We know. And we know that all the tips in the world won't take away the sinking feeling you get if/when you look at the statistics of our economy right now. And we know that all our reassuring words won't take away from the sting of unemployment (if it gets to that). And we know it's something that we're going to have to deal with sooner or later. But if it makes you feel any better, you're not alone. If you want proof of this, just talk to us. We're friendly people. Clearly, we're anxious too. So before we hit the world for real, let's bring out the best in us, together.

As always, comments are appreciated.

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