Student Teacher, Temporary Teacher or Substitute Teacher? What to do if a Teaching Job is Rumored to be Available in Your School

Here’s a question via Twitter from our EDU Edge friend Khristen @officialK_money, an aspiring teacher.

“I’m student teaching and there’s a job supposedly coming available.
People are advising me to write the principal a letter expressing my interest.
Is this good advice?”

Khristen – This is a good question and you are smart to be cautious in your approach.  If the rumored opening is due to the departure of a faculty member and not an expansion in staffing, you do not want to get involved with the situation.  When someone is leaving or retiring, it is confidential personnel information until formally announced and is not something an administrator can legally discuss.  Asking a principal or other administrator will put them in an awkward position if they know about the departure but cannot speak about it.  If they have not heard about it yet, you could embarrass them by knowing more about their school than they do (all administrators like to think they have a decent feel for the pulse of their school, sometimes it is best not to go near this bubble with too sharp a needle).

In addition, asking about the opening has very significant potential to inadvertently frame you as a ‘gossip’, overly aggressive, or insensitive person.  The opening could be due to a retirement, resignation or health issue of a faculty member the administrator or school community thought of very fondly.  There are many other scenarios that could play out.  Even if you are a temporary teacher and privy to information about the teacher who is on leave and may not return, discussing or disclosing another person’s personnel information is not something you want to get into.   Our advice is not to jump the gun before the announcement is made official and public.  The potential for an edge is limited and the risk is significant.

Regarding the advice you have been receiving- A letter or even a handwritten note of appreciation or farewell is a fine idea.  You can thank them for approving your placement with one of their faculty members, thank them for the opportunity to student teach in their school, tell them how much you have learned, praise the school’s faculty and students, and mention how honored you would be to be a member of the school and community if a position were to come available in the future.  In this way, you are highlighting who you are again and putting yourself right on the tip of their mind as someone who they should think about were a position to truly come available.  This approach certainly is not going to hurt.  

We also recommend that you read our Blog Post “Student Teaching Now? To Ask or Not to Ask the Principal to do an Observation… that is the question.”  This addresses some important related material that goes along with your question.  Please take note of another option suggested by The EDU Edge consortium, which was to plan an excellent lesson and to invite the principal by to see his/her students in action.  If you decide to go in this direction, you want to plan these out so you are ensuring that the principal is seeing you at your best.  With an invitation (with advanced notice) the principal can add the visit to her calendar easily and stop by during normal walkthroughs observations.  Once she’s seen you in action, you can ensure that the principal knows you are interested and have already (per-interview) had an opportunity to show off your talents. 

Good luck to you Khristen!  Good luck to all of you following the EDU Edge.  Please come back and let us know how you make out so we can all learn together. 

Yours in a Partnership in Learning,
The EDU Edge

(Please feel free to contact us with additional questions … we’re on Twitter, Facebook and you can email us at info@theeduedge.com.  Tell us what interview obstacles you’re dealing with and trying to overcome.  We’ll do our best to respond and try our best to help you.)

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