Here’s a question via Twitter from our EDU Edge friend Brittani, an aspiring teacher preparing for the teacher interview process.
“I substitute often at an elementary school that I really like and would love to land a full time teaching job at. I try to get around to all the grades to get to know all the teachers but I want to let the principal know that I am interested and she is never around. What is an appropriate way to let the principal know that I am interested?”
Thanks for bringing this issue to us Brittani. It sounds like you are doing many of the right things already in your quest to land a full time teaching position. Whether you are a substitute teacher or a student teacher, the dilemma you face is not uncommon. Principal’s are tough to pin down for a conversation. Unless you have been a school administrator before, it is hard to explain just how much our society in this day and age has put upon them to be superhuman. Unfortunately, much of the time they need to devote their attention to the biggest fires of the day. There have been studies to show that school administrators, ER doctors, and air traffic controllers make the greatest number of decisions in an average day (in the thousands) and are the most stressful occupations. However, this does not mean they do not care about the quality of the current people they have contributing to their school or potential future talent to add to their staff. First, please be sure you have already taken all the steps suggested in our blog post entitled, “Top Five Substitute Teaching Tips For the Successful Teacher Interview.” It is worth noting that most of these tips are also applicable to student teachers. Secondly, be sure you get a hold of The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview which is the first book written by school administrators providing an insider’s perspective of how they go about selecting teachers for interviews and how to succeed at every step of the interview process.
If you have tackled all of these things and you still feel unsure about whether your principal knows of your interest in working in their school building, these are the things we suggest you DO:
1. Write them a handwritten note on a high quality card thanking them for the opportunity to serve in their school and expressing your interest in interviewing for a full time position should one become available. Be sure to indicate the teachers on staff you have worked closely with and some of the initiatives for which you may have made contributions. A positive, handwritten note with a pleasant and relaxing look to it will be well received when they are opening their mail during a quiet moment afterhours.
2. Schedule a meeting through their secretary at least a week ahead of time. If the secretary and the principal know that you are a part of the set schedule for a day and that you are not imposing upon their stressful schedule in a sudden fashion, it will speak well of you and will be more likely to be well received. Be sure you schedule it for no more than ten minutes so they understand it will not be time consuming. If the secretary asks the purpose of the meeting, tell them you would just like a minute of the principal’s time to reintroduce yourself and express your appreciation.
By the way, with either of these approaches, there is no need to provide a vitae right away unless they request it. Wait until another month or two passes or until the end of the school year before you drop them a copy of this as it will provide another chance to follow-up and refresh their memory.
When seeking to let a principal know of your interest in working in their building as a full time teacher, these are the things we strongly suggest that you DON’T DO:
1. Stop the principal in the hallway to tell them of your interest. The odds are that they will be highly distracted as they are headed to another destination or worse, they could be irritated, even if subconsciously, because they have another task they are attempting to accomplish at that moment and you are delaying them.
2. Drop into the principal’s office. You may not get past the secretary and if you do, they may be irritated you bypassed them as their job is to provide some sort of order to the principal’s daily schedule. And let’s say you do make it into see the principal. Even if it looks like they are just sitting at a computer and listening to jazz music, trust us, they are trying to get through the hundreds of emails they receive per day or using the time to accomplish paperwork that takes a good deal of thought and concentration. No matter how pleasantly they receive you, there is a chance that you may have created a negative marker in their subconscious.
3. Email them. This one is a little debatable because email does give you an opportunity to connect with the principal on a schedule that is convenient to them and in a fashion that does not take up much of their time. However, we lean against communicating with them by email. Principals receive so many emails each day that they become numb to this form of communication. One more piece of electronic communication is likely to add to their daily email count and may not leave much of an impression. The handwritten card or scheduled meeting offers the opportunity for a warmer and much more positive connection that email cannot provide. In addition, the card and meeting both show a greater level of commitment and thought than an email which anyone can fire off from any smartphone or ipad in a few seconds.
Good luck to you Brittani! 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 Pinterest, 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.)