Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Job Interview Season: Tips & Tricks

It's that stressful time of trying to find a new school for next year, and I feel pretty good about my organization and preparation for interviews. 

After I apply online to a school, I send the administration an introductory email with with links to this blog and my online portfolio. The blog is great for showing up-to-date images of my lessons and projects, while the portfolio handles those boring adult things like resumes and teaching philosophies. 

I would highly recommend setting up either a blog or a portfolio or both! Hiring administrators love to see that you are active in the art community, that you communicate to parents about student work, and that you know how to use technology. These things hit all of those points and (I think) they're a lot of fun to keep up with. I've had many positive comments about my online activity during interviews and would very much recommend it.

I also (if possible) go to the school ASAP to drop off a teaching portfolio. Like the green folder above, I use bright, attention-grabbing colors and label it with essential information. I print my labels onto "name tag" sheets so they are sticky and easy to apply. Inside the portfolio is a school-specific cover letter, resume, philosophy of teaching, license, transcripts, PRAXIS scores, and references. I no longer include examples of lessons or sample artworks, the call-back rate was not enough for that extra effort and I have seen no decline in the amount of call-backs I get since removing them. Those are best left to the Interview Portfolio. Check this guy out:

I'm using a large 3-ring binder with everything in page protectors. I also have tabs for each section. Go the extra mile and get the "pretty" tabs. I love these clear dividers with the rounded tabs. I also printed the titles instead of writing them for a few reasons: I do not have good handwriting, it's hard to center things just right the first time, I may want to use these tabs in multiple portfolios and printing allows me to do that easily, and just because it's so easy to do! Every tab set you buy comes with instructions on how to download the template and print them out, just do it!

I include sections like "Documentation", which has all of the same things the mini-portfolio has. I also have an "Awards" section for grants, awards, and PD like NAEA conferences and Tennessee Arts Academy participation. It's good to show you are active in the art-teaching community and always willing to learn!

I also have "Art Displays" as a tab. Luckily, I had kept up with photos of all of my displays and art shows. It is a pain to organize and to print in color, but again, just do it! It is the best way to show your future principal exactly what kind of displays you can offer their school!

I do include lessons (with color photos!) and student examples in the interview portfolio. Give them something they can touch and examine to better understand what you do! I also do not edit what I add here. It's a 3-ring binder, it's huge, and page protectors are cheap. I added every lesson plan I wrote up for last year's Frist Summer Camp and my entire middle school curriculum (just in case). Better to be over prepared, and I don't have to readjust my portfolio depending on what grade level I'm applying to teach.

If you can, also take an iPad with you to show off your website, blog, or online portfolio in person. I would recommend using your phone to set up a hot spot and connect your tablet prior to the interview. Most school wifi networks are password protected and you don't want to waste time or be awkward by asking for the password. 

I hope this helps, be great art teachers and go find yourselves a school!