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Sunday, August 30, 2015

How to Get a Teaching Job from Substitute Teaching

Being a substitute teacher is hard work!  My fiance and I relocated to Knoxville just days before teachers here went back to school. Unfortunately, that means I was several months late for the education hiring season!  To be honest, I was slightly devastated that I wouldn't have my own classroom, but I was determined to make the most of the situation by substitute teaching!

Getting a teaching job a big district can often require getting a foot in the door somewhere.  For this reason I knew I would have to sub for the year, even though I could have made more money and had less stress if I pursued a different job for the year. I wanted to go into hiring season for the next school year knowing my way around town, having inside details on all the schools, and confident that I would land any job I wanted because of my hard-work, passion, and professionalism.

After just 2 1/2 weeks of subbing, I'm happy to report that I was offered a full-time teaching position at a school I had been subbing at!  So if you're like me, making the most out of subbing but wanting it to turn into something more, do this:

1.  Have business cards!  You can get business cards so cheaply nowadays... you must do it! Not only does handing out a business card set you apart professionally, it provides a direct line of communication between the school and yourself.

I opted for the more expensive back on my cards because I wanted to show my love, respect, and passion for education!

2.  Create materials and/or blog!  Last year I put my first item up on TeachersPayTeachers and was surprised by the positive feedback I received and how much additional income it provided.  This is a great option to do while substitute teaching on days off/downtime when you would otherwise be planning! Additionally, blogging is a great way to channel your love and passion for education.  I followed these pursuits for my own passions and reasons, but it was a great resource to put on my business cards and another way to represent myself to future employers.

3.  Meet the principal!  Often times when you arrive or leave the school the principal will be in the office. Take the opportunity to say hello, state why you are in the building, and compliment the school/students/staff that have helped you during the day. (The key is to be genuine though!) Send a short follow up email thanking them for the hospitality of the school.  Studies show that reaching out once more after an initial meeting will solidify the memory of you in that person's head. All email addresses should be available on the school's website! Remember there will be hundreds of subs in and out of the schools during the year, you want to set yourself apart.  I subbed in a school the first week of school and LOVED the school community.  I was fortunate enough to meet the principal on my first visit.  When I got home and was talking about what an amazing day I had and how much I loved the school, my fiance encouraged me to send a brief thank you/nice to meet you email.  I even received a lovely response back from the principal! Days later I was called (directly, thanks to my business cards!) to sub there again for a whole week for a vacant math position.  I never considered teaching 6th grade math, but after working with the amazing students and knowing how incredible the staff was, I knew it would be a great fit for me and I had to go after the position.  Fortunately, they thought I would be a perfect fit too!

4. Treat every day as an interview!  Being a substitute can be hard work and if you treat every single day as interview, it can be a lot more work!  Making sure you're dressed in business professional attire and hair done professionally adds time to your morning, but you only have one chance to make a first impression! You are being interviewed by the schools to see if they would call you again to sub, but it's so much more important if you want to get a job there the following year. If your hope is to sub for a year and then find a position in one of those schools the following year, it is also important to know you are interviewing the schools!  You have a unique opportunity to learn about how the school works, the staff happiness, and whether or not you could be happy there.  Take advantage of it, because those are things you can't learn about a school sitting in an interview! You have an opportunity to only go after jobs at schools you know you can make a happy home in for years to come.

5.  Be positive.  Every one has tough days.  Sometimes people need to vent.  However, if someone at a school starts to vent to you about the school, the other staff, the profession, the admin, the students etc., be a supportive listener but DO NOT partake in the venting!  Not only does this keep you out of schoolhouse drama, but it's so important on a personal level.  If you look for the bad, you will find it!  But if you look for the good, you will find that instead!  And everybody (okay, almost everybody) wants to work with positive, uplifting people.

These are the rules I lived by and after 2 1/2 weeks I landed a DREAM job!  I wish you all the luck and happiness in your teaching adventures.  Happy teaching :)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tips for Substitute Teaching: Part 2!

Here in Knoxville we have just finished the 3rd week of school!  It's been a whirlwind! I have learned so much and along the way and I've come up with a few more Tips for Substitute Teaching!  (See my previous list of tips here.)

1.  Have business cards!  You can get business cards so cheaply nowadays...and you must do it! Having business cards will ASSUREDLY improve your livelihood. Not only does it set you apart professionally, it provides a direct line of communication between the school and yourself.  After just a few days of subbing I was being referred for positions and receiving calls directly from the school to take a position instead of being called for/searching through random available positions. If you love the school and want to sub there again, leave a business card with the sub coordinator, with your notes to the classroom teacher you subbed for, any other teachers you meet or compliment your subbing skills, and the principal if you get a chance to meet her or him. 

I purchased mine through Vistaprint with a pre-designed template.

I splurged for a back (albiet b&w).  I wanted to show my passion for education!

2.  Utilize on-line resources!  More often than not, I walked into classrooms with no lesson plans.  If this happens to you, don't let the class devolve into chaos!  Come up with a plan by searching the web.  Pinterest is a MUST-HAVE for teachers.  A quick search of grade level and subject will give you hundreds of ideas!  Also check out TeachersPayTeachers! Enter any subject into the search bar and then you can filter responses on the left-hand part of the screen for grade level and price...there are plenty of FREE resources!  If there are no sub plans the school should be happy to make copies for you!

3.  Dress business professional.  This is particularly important while substitute teaching in Jr. High and High School.  Dress professionally and you will be taken more seriously and given more respect.  Take yourself seriously and the students will follow suit! This will also set you apart in the eyes of administrators and get you more jobs. Caveat...I wear business professional with tennis shoes because being on my feet all day for years has given me planter fasciitis and you need to...  

4.  Circle the room like a vulture.  Constant movement around the room will keep the students on their toes and on task.  Linger next to the student(s) that are goofing off and they will be instantly calmer.  Another great option is to use those goofy students (I do love me a class clown! As long as there is no disrespect...) as your helper.  They want attention so give them positive attention and a place to channel their energy.  

5.  Reflect.  Before I started subbing I knew there were going to be some tough days and I would need to figure out what I could learn from these tough days in order to be a better teacher. For this reason, I made sure to have a dedicated reflection journal ready to go and with me at all times! Before, during, and after my sub jobs I reflected habitually. Don't just run out of the building after a tough day and never think about it again!  Reflect and think about what you would do differently next time.  When next time rolls around you WILL have a better day.  This journal is also a great place to write down the names of all the teachers and staff that you meet for when you come back to that school next time!  

6. Don't complain.  There are going to be tough days.  Even if you've had a nightmare day, DON'T take to social media to vent your frustrations. DON'T partake in complaining about the students even if it's another teacher who started the conversation!  And DON'T spend all night complaining to those around you.  If you can't help but do one or all of the above, DON'T take a job at that school again!  It's not worth your frustration and will not help you get more jobs if you are miserable and have nothing nice to say about the experience. Staying positive will help you prepare for whatever comes next.  You can do it!

7.  Keep an excel sheets of your jobs.  Accounting departments make mistakes.  Make sure you keep track of the days you work, where you work, and the pay for that day so that you have all the info you need to make sure your paychecks are coming out correctly!

Well, I had plans to make lots of installments of my tips for subbing, but this will be my last blog on the topic because one of my subbing positions turned into a full time teaching position!  Check out my blog on How To Get a Teaching Job from Subbing next!

Happy teaching :)  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Reason We Teach

I was sitting here enjoying a beautiful (okay, another rainy!) morning, a nice strong cup of coffee, and seeing what the internet has to offer when I came across this wonderful TED talk.  It is short, but worth the nearly 8 minutes of your day to feel impassioned about what we do and why we do it: in order to educate, we must form relationships.

Those of us who teach don't do it to merely disseminate information.  We do it to transform lives (including our own!)  This is a great reminder of why we work well beyond that final dismissal bell and pour ourselves into our classrooms and our students.  We're not simply there to make sure the students learn x, y, and z.  It's about teaching them what to do with that information...setting them on a path that will take them to some expected and many unexpected places.  There is so much more I love about this TED talk, but I'll leave it at that and let you enjoy it already :)

Click on the picture above to be rerouted to the webpage with this wonderful Ted talk!

Happy teaching y'all!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Labor Day Bundle!

Labor Day!  While I know many teachers will just be gearing up to start school again after Labor Day (I’m looking at you friends and colleagues in Chicago!), many of us have already been back to school for weeks!   

Typically, especially as time marches out, Labor Day is thought to be just another day off of work and school.  My goal for this year is to create meaningful classroom materials for these holidays that might otherwise be overlooked or brushed aside.

A lot of the materials floating around the internet in regards to Labor Day is very much aimed at Jr. High (or Middle School if you prefer...the kids around here in Knoxville look at me like I'm crazy when I say Jr. High!) students and beyond.  I wanted to create something accessible and appropriate for the early grades that would resonate and impress upon students the importance of Labor Day and why it should matter to them!

I came up with this fun interactive book that focuses on what Labor Day is, dictionary skills, and text features such as bold words and a glossary.  The book is intended to be colored in, drawn in, and written in.  I have found that allowing young students this opportunity to interact with the material that they are supposed to be learning from increases their engagement and understanding.  I also chose to focus on things that need repetitive reinforcement for mastery in the classroom such as dictionary skills and text features. Also included is a vocabulary activity to draw upon those text features and help students synthesize the information they just learned! Check it out in my TpT store  by clicking here or clicking on the pictures below!

Next is my favorite part of the bundle!  I must admit that having worked with 3rd graders for the first time last year, I came to realize that I have not been teaching writing using best practices!  When my 3rd graders took the standardized state test writing portion, they were given several pieces of information (written essays, etc.) and then asked to answer a prompt using the information they just read!  I absolutely LOVED this format…only I hadn’t once exposed them to this unfamiliar way of doing things.  I felt terrible and spent the rest of the year (albeit short) doing as many writing activities in this manner as possible. (Check out my kiddos’ favorite, our Who Would Win writing activity!) 

Now whenever I create a writing prompt, I do so using the aforementioned format to prepare students for what writing assignments will be like all the way through college! (I see what you did there college and career readiness standards...)  For Labor Day I have created one essay for the students to read and 3 different prompts that can be used with it.  Use 1, 2, or all 3! The essay delves into the laws and protections that have been afforded to laborers as well as a little on child labor (meant to resonate with the young students and have them think globally!) The informative prompt asks students to tell about three laws that now exist to help protect workers, the persuasive asks students why child labor should not be allowed, and the creative asks students to imagine what it would be like to be a child laborer and how they would feel.

The last page includes and extension activity to support an organization aimed at stopping child labor around the world.  Volunteerism can be a great way to unite a classroom and teach students about the importance of community and what people can accomplish when they work together!  Choosing one cause to focus on all year is a great way to teach kids about follow through as well as allow ample learning opportunities and opportunities to see their effort grow into tangible results! The fact that it is focused on children should heighten your students' interest and empathy. Hope you all enjoy the back to school season and the first day off from school to celebrate all the hard work you do ;)

Happy teaching y’all!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tips for Substitutes

Having arrived in Knoxville just a week or two before school started and still waiting on my TN teaching license (deep breathes, count to ten, jump through hoops..), I have forged ahead with my plan to substitute this year!  The school system I’m subbing in has a great website that lists all available jobs on-line which allows for the ability to be selective about only taking certified teaching positions and most importantly the ability to plan ahead instead of taking a call at 5:30 in the morning to work that same day!  

After obsessively refreshing the website at all hours of the day and night, I’m happy to report that I have taken a job every single day that I have been able to work!  The very first job I took was for the second day of school in a Jr. High! I'm not going to lie, as an early elementary school teacher I have always thought that teaching Jr. High seemed slightly terrifying (yes, I said it!).  As it turns out, I have absolutely LOVED the opportunity to get to work with Jr. High students! Who knew?!  (Note to self: TEACHING Jr. High is not the same as BEING in Jr. High!)

Aside from expanding my horizons in the vast world of education, I have also loved getting to be in so many different schools and learning from each and every one.  Every school operates differently and I have been trying to glean as many best practices as I can!  Exactly one week into this subbing gig, I have learned a few things to expect/be prepared for:

  •         No lesson plans!  Being a teacher and having years of experience (and Pinterest boards full of fun activities) has given me a leg up on this one!  Rest assured, I am brainstorming some little-to-no material activities to get me through those surprise days with no sub plans.  (Check back soon for what I come up with!)
  •          Breaking the Ice.  Maybe it’s just because it’s the beginning of the year and I’ve been in mostly Jr. High classes, but I’ve enjoyed doing ice breakers just to put the kids at ease and help class flow smoothly!  2 Truths and a Lie has been my go-to thus far.  
  •       Downtime! Sometimes while subbing you find yourself with downtime-sometimes quite a bit of downtime!  What I wouldn’t have given in the past while working at new charter schools with not much infrastructure to have all the great planning time that a big district offers their teachers! After offering to help with anything in the front office during these planning periods, I have enjoyed a little time to myself that I probably wouldn’t make for myself otherwise! I always have a book to relax with or my computer to work on creating fun Teachers Pay Teachers goodies!

The year is off to a great start and looking forward to all this year will bring into my life! Hope you all are enjoying back to school season as well!

Happy teaching y'all!

**UPDATE!  That first day of subbing at a Jr. High that thrilled me so actually led to me being offered a job there a mere 2 and a half weeks later!**

Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to School Freebie! Holiday Calendar 2015-2016!

Happy first day of school to so many hard-working teachers out there! Lots of love to all my amazing friends and colleagues who have just about survived the first day of school! Remember to run to Teachers pay Teachers August 3-August 5 for the beginning of the year sale!  20% is a great way to start the year!

Since moving to Knoxville and waiting for my TN teaching license I am LOVING having all the time teachers wish we had to create meaningful materials for the classroom.  One goal I have this year is to create great holiday resources for the classroom and easy month-long bundles for easy planning.

In doing my holiday research I created a little calendar I thought that y'all (totally loving the south!) might want in order to keep on top of the holidays throughout the year.  No more holidays sneaking up on me!  Hope you find this a helpful addition to your teacher binder!

Remember to check back to the blog and my TpT Store regularly to see the great holiday resources I'll be whipping up for early-mid elementary. If you want anything specific...any grade level...I'd love to make it for you. Just leave a comment and we'll be in contact :)

Enjoy this FREEBIE by clicking either picture below.

Happy teaching y'all!