So, you’ve just been placed in your fall internship. If you’re like me, you’re hovering somewhere between excitement and “oh-my-gosh-what-did-I-get-myself-into?”
I remember walking into McNair High School that September morning, my stomach vibrating with nerves. I saw some students walking swiftly through the hallway to class and I marched right into the front office. I smiled at them thinking, “maybe I’ll change their lives forever.” Ahhh, to have the wide-eyed optimism of a student teacher again.
Four of my peers were also in the lobby…waiting to hear the word ‘go.’ My anxiety was silenced by my friend Kristin, who became my fast grad-school BFF as we shared a love for fashion. Never mind the fact that she was totally flawless and looked just like Jennifer Hudson; Kristin is the type of person whose beauty oozes through her kindness and her presence makes you feel prettier. Things were totally looking up for me.
“I wonder what grade we’ll be teaching.” Kristin mused.
Our thoughts and expectations started to litter the quiet humming of the front office. Finally, the principal walked out,
“Ladies, if you’ll join me in the conference room.” He seemed stern, and none of us were sure why.
We all sat down; all of us wearing our best teacher outfits. Kristin took the seat right next to me. Whatever we were in for, we were in this together.
“Sorry to disappoint you ladies, but I was never informed that you all would be coming here today. We do not have opportunities for you to student teach here. We will contact your graduate school professors to give you credit for showing up, but we have to ask you to leave.”
Kristin and I exchanged furrowed brows. Looking back, I am pretty sure it was because we’d shopped for the right outfit for this moment and we’d just wasted it on a twenty minute wait in the lobby, and five minute meeting with a principal who didn’t even know we were coming.
Eventually, Kristin and I were placed at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Lithonia. She was in eleventh grade; I was in tenth grade. We approached our internship like two scientists: if we do this activity then we will get these results…if I present material in this way, the students will display this type of enthusiasm. Everything was an experiment; everything was new. Student teaching was the perfect place to realize that pedagogy is great, but there is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for the classroom except for being in the classroom. After all, pedagogy goes right out the window when you have two boys who just got out of jail fighting in your classroom…
I absolutely loved my time at MLK. My little tenth grade babes are in their second year of college now, which is completely odd, but oddly rewarding. I remember approaching my last day of student teaching with sadness, realizing that my internship was the only thing I had solidified. As I was entering my last semester of graduate school, I didn’t have a teaching position secured. However, I had already begun to lay the foundation that would eventually set me up for a job in the fall as well as future job opportunities in the coming years.
I am about to embark on a five-part series that will give education interns an opportunity to start to network and find coveted teaching positions for next fall. This week is all about looking good on screen.
Part I: Look good on screen
Interns: buy your domain name. Retail me not always has Go Daddy deals listed that can save you a bundle on purchasing your .com name. I would purchase your first and last name .com. Once you’ve purchased, forward to a clean home screen that displays your full name followed by a one-line summary of your philosophy of education. Right now, it would be the best $1.99 you can spend that gets you started on the road to a full paying job.
If you’re looking to teach writing, you may consider having a link to a blog where you share lesson planning strategies. When I purchased my domain name, I simply forwarded to a Google Site that had a large graphic of my name along with a little peacock feather to adorn the side. Google Sites is a great platform for the web-illiterate. It is easy to use and connects easily to your Google drive (for documents). Here is what employers saw when they visited my webpage:
Remember that statement of purpose you wrote to be admitted into your education program? Use it. Most of the time, it contains the raw desire of your heart to truly make a difference. This is what employers are looking for: passion for your students, not for your subject matter.
My Statement of purpose looked a little like this:
Your sidebar should always link back to all pages on your site. INCLUDE A DOCUMENT with your resume. Make sure it is printable. You never know who will print out your resume and call you for an interview.
My choices included a single-day lesson plan, a full unit plan, my personal digital technology work sample (a video I edited as a teaser for my unit plan), an assessment sample (a rubric, a test, a project…anything that you’re proud of), a graduate paper for pedagogy and a graduate paper in your content area. Let’s be real, your employers may not read all or any of your lesson plans and papers, but they may. And you’ve included your best work here. You’re controlling what they can see and you can certainly put your best face forward on screen.
Everyone has different classroom management styles, and you’ve got to choose the style that works best for you. My management styles have grown from year to year, but I include a graphic on my professional homepage that details my first year’s management style: brownie points.
Interns, be sure to develop this while you’re still student teaching. After all, you never know who is watching you teach and interact with your students. Your performance as an intern can set you up positively or negatively in the future, so be sure that your performance in person is stellar, and your digital presence is equally as impressive.
Next week, I’ll discuss how to look good on paper in order to land your job.