Tips for Your Teaching Resume

By: Whitney

As a teacher candidate, you might have several positions that sound very similar before you get experience such as student teaching or even your first full-time position. You might have done some assessing or behavior management,  which are great to put on a resume, but since you aren’t taking over the classroom yet. It can be challenging to show all of your experiences without being too repetitive. The following is an example of one way you can avoid this problem as pictured on page 33 of the Career Handbook.

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By combining your positions as a classroom volunteer or a practicum student teacher as pictured above you can give employers the gist of what you did while saving room for other positions you have held, without being too repetitive. If you have two experiences that are very different from one another, this method is not the best option because you likely have very different things to say about each position. For instance, this semester my practicum experience is in a classroom that is 1:1 with iPads. This experience looks VERY different than some of my past experiences where I have been in a very low tech school and in a lower grade. Since these positions are so different, and I would like to highlight how I have used technology in the classroom in my latest experience combining experiences as shown above, is not the best option for my resume.

If you do choose to set up your resume in this way, I would recommend you set it up by similar age groups because assessment and behavior management techniques look very different for kindergarten as compared to 6th grade. I would also recommend to split out special education and general education experiences as these experiences will likely look very different. When using these techniques you may have to be a little more generic with your wording so that it fits with the positions. For instance going off the example above, I wouldn’t say that I worked with three students with a specific learning disability because that statement wouldn’t be true for all positions. Instead, you would list it as the example states above (Assisted teachers in providing consistent classroom management according to individual behavioral needs and plans.) because this is likely accurate information for all of the positions you have listed.

When talking about your student teaching experience, consider having this be a separate description and possibly even give it it’s own section. This is because you spend a lot more time in the classroom when you are student teaching. You also have more responsibility and control over the classroom so this is information you will want to highlight on your resume.

Other really great information pieces to include on your resume are specific details such as whether or not you have done behavioral or academic interventions, stating specific disability groups you have worked with content area topics you have taught, or specific strategies you have used such as guided math, flipped learning, or gamification.

If you can give any data with information such as an intervention, this could make you stand out in a group of applicants, especially if you were successful. If you weren’t successful, this could be a great talking point while in an interview. You could discuss what you tried, what didn’t work, and where you went from there.

By combining similar positions on your resume you can not only reduce repeating yourself over and over, but you can also save yourself space for other positions that are related that you would like to have on your resume. If you choose not to combine positions, make sure you are choosing facts about each position that make it different from the ones you already have on your resume. By spreading out the descriptions you likely do in all experiences, you can give solid descriptions of what you did at each one rather than having your resume be generic. While things like assessment and behavior management are important, so are skills such as using technology and interventions. Make sure that you hit all of these skills in your resume rather than just telling them information that you think employers want to hear. Remember, you want to make yourself stand out by highlighting what kind of teacher you are and where you are going to go in the future!

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What do I Put in a Teaching Portfolio?

By: Whitney

As a teacher candidate, I have heard several times from professors and principals that I should have a portfolio. The problem is, I have no idea what I should put in my portfolio or where I should be keeping my portfolio. The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) publishes a Job Search Handbook for educators every year. I found the section “Successfully Marketing Yourself Through the Use of an Electronic Portfolio” to be very helpful. You can pick up one of these handbooks in our office!

One major point this section made is that a well put together portfolio can either make or break you in the job search. The overall layout and design of your portfolio can have a lot to do with whether it will make or break you. You want to make sure your portfolio is easy to follow and that your design or “decoration” doesn’t get in the way of the content of your portfolio.

The first part of your portfolio that the employer will see is your Welcome Page. This doesn’t have to be a big long welcome, but it should introduce you as an educator. AAEE recommends including a professional picture of yourself or an original picture that represents you positively as a teacher. This could be the same picture that is on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.

A nice aspect of an online portfolio is that you can include audio or video clips to introduce yourself or a concept to future employers. This could be an original addition to your portfolio that will help you to stand out to future employers. If you choose to include an audio or visual clip, I strongly recommend including subtitles to your video to show that you are sensitive to the topic of accessibility. When creating or selecting clips for your portfolio, it is important to make sure that they are high quality and professional.

The biggest part of your portfolio is the artifacts or documents section. These documents should show that you can “effectively and positively impact students learning.” You should make sure this section of your portfolio shows your ability to:

  • Plan and implement standards based instruction.
  • Effectively assess.
  • Manage a learning environment.
  • Collaborate with others including peers, community members, parents, etc.

Similar to when you send an electronic version of your resume, you will want to save any uploaded documents as a PDF before uploading them so the format stays the same no matter what type of device the employer is using to open the document. It is important to make sure that these documents are accessible, so consider asking several friends and family to open the document to make sure that it is available. If the documents aren’t accessible you will loose all effectiveness and it will not reflect well on you as a teaching candidate.

An electronic portfolio can be a great option for providing employers with samples of your work that is easily accessible before, during, or after your interview. There are other formats that you can use to present your portfolio and you will need to choose the format that is best for your purpose. To see other possible formats you may want to check out my previous blog post “Why Make a Teaching Portfolio?”

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Why Make a Teaching Portfolio

By: Whitney

If you are going into the teaching field, you often hear about creating a teaching portfolio or a job search portfolio. I had another teaching candidate ask me just the other day, “How important is a job search portfolio?” I told them I knew it was important, but I wasn’t really sure the exact reasoning behind it, so I decided to do a little research on it. The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) publishes a Job Search Handbook for educators every year. In this handbook there is a section called “Portfolios in the Job Search: Busy Work or Competitive Edge?”.

There are some employers, in this case school districts, who don’t ask for portfolios especially in the first or second rounds of interviews. This brings up the question if they don’t specifically ask for a teaching portfolio, why would I take the time to put one together? By having a well put together portfolio in the first and second rounds of interviews, you can make yourself really stand out. You will show that you are highly motivated and that you really want the position they are hiring for because you took the time to go above and beyond what they specifically asked for. You are also showing them examples of your work, which will give them a better idea of how you work as a teacher and your effectiveness as a teacher.

Portfolios are a great way to show employers what your strengths are in the field. By having a visual of these strengths to bring up during an interview, you will make a longer lasting impression on the employer than just talking about the examples. There are also some lessons that you are very proud of that you want to highlight, but they are too complicated to just discuss. Having this visual will allow you to effectively show the panel an example of your work and you will also showcase your teaching ability when you are explaining the lesson to the employer. This kind of makes it a two for one!

There are many different formats that you can choose when you are creating a job search portfolio. You may choose to create a binder, streamlined packet, brochure, or an electronic portfolio. There are pros and cons for each of these formats so you will have to choose the one that you think will work best for you.

Binders can be a great way to show your organization skills. By having a binder with examples of your work the employer will have a tangible example of your work. You can use color-coded tabs that allow you to reference certain items during the interview and they will be able to go look at those examples. There are two major cons of doing a binder portfolio, in my opinion. The first is that you will really have to know where everything is in the binder because it will be really hard for more than one person to look at it at one time. The second is that the employer will likely ask to keep the portfolio for a period of time so they have time to actually look at the portfolio you put together. This means if you have another interview in a short period of time following another, you may not have your portfolio back to share with another employer.

The second option is a streamlined packet. This is a document that is less than ten pages long where you can give highlights of your experiences through showing work samples and photos. One really nice part of using this format is that it is short enough that you can print a copy for each person on the panel. It is also nice because it is very short and to the point so employers will be able to look through it without spending too much time. While it is nice because it is concise, I think that this is also its biggest downfall because you have to be a little pickier about what to include and what to leave out. This may mean that you have to leave something out that you really want to include because of a lack of space.

The third format is a brochure. This is a really quick and easy way to show your strengths and highlight aspects of your career. The AAEE Handbook suggests passing out these brochures at job fairs or networking events or including a copy of the brochure with a thank you letter. The biggest obvious downfall of using a brochure is the lack of space. This being said, I wouldn’t recommend using this on its own, but I think that using this as noted in the handbook is a great idea!

The final format is an electronic portfolio. What is really nice about creating an electronic version is that you can put a link to it on your resume and employers can access it if they want before you come in for an interview. It also allows you to tailor your portfolio toward each employer and add videos of you teaching. One downfall about having an online portfolio is that you have to make sure that all of your information is accessible. You should also make sure where you are posting your portfolio is secure if you have pictures of students.

Even though an employer might not ask for a portfolio in the first round of interviews. Having one that you can show them can be a great way to help them to remember you and show examples of your work. In an upcoming post, I will be talking about what you should consider putting in your portfolio.

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What Tests are Needed to Become a Teacher in Minnesota

By: Whitney

When I decided to switch my major to teaching, I figured that there would be a couple of tests I would be required to take before I was able to become a certified teacher. What I didn’t realize was just how many tests I would need to take. Even after being in the program for a couple of years it has never been made super clear what tests and how many I will need to complete to receive licensure to teach in elementary (K-6) and special education (K-12) in the state of Minnesota. What is almost as important to realize, is how much it really costs to become a teacher. The following paragraphs will talk about the tests, costs, and time length of each test needed to become an elementary or special education teacher.

The first set of tests that is needed for all initial license no matter which license you are wishing to obtain is the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examination (MTLE): Basic Skills Tests. The basic skills test, tests teacher candidates in the areas of reading (60 minutes), writing (105 minutes), and mathematics (75 minutes). The reading and mathematics tests are in a multiple-choice format and the writing is a mixture of multiple choice and constructed response questions. Each sub test costs $25 and must be passed with a minimum score of 240. This price does not include the annual $50 fee that must be paid in order to take the exam. The total cost to take the MTLE Basic Skills portion of the test is $125 (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014).

The next set of tests that is required for all teacher candidates is the MTLE Pedagogy Tests. There are two 60 minute subtests for each pedagogy test in the areas of early childhood, elementary, and secondary. Each subtest is multiple choice and costs $35 each. The total cost for this test if you have to pay the $50 annual fee is $120. If you don’t need to pay the annual fee then the cost would be $70. These tests must also be passed with a score of 240 (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014).

After the pedagogy tests, things start to get a little trickier because there are different licensure exams for various fields that are available. For right now I will just be focusing on the exams necessary for licensure in the field of elementary and special education.

To be certified to teach elementary education there are three different subtests that must be taken. All are called elementary education. Each test is an hour in length and costs $35. Each test is in a multiple-choice format and must be passed with a minimum score of 240. The total cost of these tests if you pay the annual fee is $155 (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014).

Finally to be certified as a special education teacher from ages birth to 12th grade you must take the “Special Education Core Skills” subtest. Each of these tests is 60 minutes in length and cost $35. Again if you have to pay the annual fee it is $120. This is also a multiple-choice test that needs to be passed with a minimum score of 240 (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014).

One of the very nice things about each of these tests is that each subtest can be taken separately. For instance, if you think that you will do better on the Basic Skills tests if you take the reading, writing, and math all on separate days then you can certainly do that! What is also great is that if you pass the reading and writing, but don’t pass the mathematics portion of the test, you only have to retake the mathematics portion not all three!

The edTPA or Teacher Performance Assessment is also a requirement. Since this is a much bigger topic I will discuss it in later posts. For more information on licensure exams for elementary and special education or on other teacher candidate licensure requirements visit http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/EdExc/Licen/index.html.

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Words to Use on a Teaching Resume Other Than “Taught”

By: Whitney

As a teaching major, I know it can be very easy to get stuck on words such as taught, created, and graded when writing your resume. While it is great to show you have teaching experience you don’t want to sound like you are saying the same thing over and over again. By mixing up the verbs you use, you may give yourself better chances on landing an interview at the school district you want to work for. The following are verbs that might be a nice change for your resume and how you could use them on your resume.

  • Adapted– As teachers or teacher candidates we are always adapting lessons for students with special needs, adapting to our surroundings, or changing plans on the fly to fit with students’ needs for the day.
  • Administered– Rather than saying you passed out a test or observed a test being given, it sounds more professional to say you administered the test.
  • Aided– No matter what classroom you are in there are always going to be students who need help. Rather than just using help or helped, aided is a good alternative to show the same thoughts in a non-repetitive way.
  • Anticipated– Any teacher is always anticipating needs of students or anticipating what changes might need to be made in order to make the lesson run more smoothly. Highlighting this fact is very important especially if you can give a concrete example.
  • Assessed– Assessment is very important in teaching today. Every lesson must have an assessment to go along with it so the teacher knows what the student is learning. If you are the one creating this assessment, then having that be a buzzword is very appropriate!
  • Collaborated– Whenever you are in a classroom with a cooperating teacher, you are likely collaborating with them on what the focus of the lesson should be and how you can best work with the students. Showing you have these collaboration skills is very valuable to future employers whether it is in the education field or beyond.
  • Collected/Tracked – Data collection is also very important. I know I didn’t realize how much data was kept on each student and just how important this data is in the education world. Showing you have experience with this through collecting data for something like an intervention would be something that could give you an extra edge.
  • Co-Taught- Co-teaching is a newer phenomenon that has hit the education field. More classes are starting to be co-taught. When you are in a classroom working with a cooperating teacher you are likely demonstrating a form of co-teaching.
  • Designed– Designed is a less boring way of saying created. It is a good word to use if you want to sound more professional without changing the meaning of the word.
  • Developed– Again, developed is a good word to use to describe lessons you planned or a curriculum-based measure created for a student to either increase or decrease a behavior by implementing an intervention.

Action Verbs Teaching

  • Empowered– This is a very powerful word that I love! You can empower students by giving them choice or by allowing them to feel like their thoughts and opinions are heard and taken into account.
  • Encouraged– Teachers often do not think about how much of their day is spent encouraging students to do their best work or for that matter start their work at all. Stating how you encourage students shows how you connect with students, which is very important in the teaching world.
  • Engaged– In order for students to learn, they must be engaged. Many people call this the hook of the lesson. This does not have to be a long, lengthy description, but I think it is always good to note you are striving to engage students in each lesson you plan.
  • Evaluated– Teachers while reviewing lesson plans or searching for new ones online are constantly evaluating or judging the value or the quality of the plan. Showing you are thinking critically about lessons before teaching them is necessary.
  • Increased/Decreased/Reduced– When implementing an intervention, a teacher is trying to either increase or reduce a target behavior. If you have ever done an intervention where this is true, this is a great skill to add to your resume.
  • Implemented– If you have ever implemented an intervention with a student this is a great thing to put on your resume. Many schools are using more interventions in order to keep students in the general education classroom for as much time as possible. Showing you have these skills might just land you an interview!
  • Managed– School districts want to know what you know about management techniques because it is so difficult. If you know about various management techniques and how to use them effectively in the classroom, the school district wants to know. If you have put a management plan into place then this is even better! If you are listing this under one grade you taught then it may be helpful to list how many students were in the class.
  • Modeled– Modeling the behavior or the task you want to have done will help cause less confusion in the classroom and also help to manage a classroom. Showing you value modeling behavior you want to see also shows management techniques and also effective teaching techniques.
  • Motivated– It can sometimes be difficult to motivate students to complete a task. If you have students who are challenging, showing how you motivated them to complete a task shows how you connect with students.
  • Reflected– Reflection is a big part of teaching that we tend to do without thinking about. For the EdTPA it is very important that teachers are reflecting on their lessons. It would be very valuable for a district to know you are reflecting on your lessons and evaluating what worked and what didn’t.

Of Possible Interest:

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