Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Job-Hunting Teacher Series: Creating a Portfolio


For today's Job-Hunting Teacher post, we will be exploring the interview portfolio I mentioned in last week's post. I think it makes sense to break down this process in pictures…

First: Buy a Portfolio!

Want to make your interview stand out above the rest? Invest in some inexpensive portfolio-style folders, and present your hard work to your interviewer (future boss?). Instead of handing your boss a stack of papers and work samples, or emailing a few documents (which is also an alternative), considering making something you can physically hand during your interview, so they may look at your organization, awe at your preparedness, and revel in all your hard work!

First thing's first - decide which style of portfolio you would like to purchase. I am partial to the Report Cover style portfolios. Everything is easily accessible (no fumbling with looking through papers - just flip the pages like a book!). Make sure you purchase a portfolio that will fit all your work (or will allow you to add pages as necessary). I prefer the Report Cover styles that consist of page protectors, instead of the simple plastic cover, with no plastic feel in between. I think it looks sleeker and more professional when everything is covered in smooth, clear plastic :) Sometimes this type of portfolio is called a Presentation Book or Presentation Portfolio, so don't overlook these products! I happen to have one that is a bit thinner that I will use in the pictures below, but often these styles come in a small binder form. Both will work well, so choose whichever you prefer.

I wouldn't recommend using a pocket folder, as it defeats the purpose of having your work samples and images available for a quick view. I have seen (and, in bind, have done myself) people use pocket folders with the 3-prong fasteners in the middle. I place my documents and work samples in page protectors, and put them into the fasteners for a cheap, easy alternative. I still prefer the Report Cover method, but this can be utilized if you prefer as well.

Next: Decide what you want to put in the portfolio. And create a Table of Contents

This will depend on what job you are pursuing. If you are interviewing for a special education behavior classroom, your contents may be similar to mine. If you are looking into a general education fifth-grade classroom, you may put more emphasis on test-taking strategies you've used, showing templates or photos of your supports. Showcase what will make you the ideal candidate!
I save several packets of my portfolio contents
so I can just insert them into the portfolio and go!

After you decide what you want to include,
decide on the order and type a simple Table of Contents

I print my resume back to back so it fits on one page.
I also make sure to fill each page of the portfolio, so there are no blank or empty pages.
 Your Philosophy of Education is optional,
but can look great with your other "professional" documents
If you include subsections (like I did with my Behavioral Work Samples), consider adding an additional Table of Contents to break it down even further.
I include sections I and II in my portfolio.
I generally bring documents from section III in case they request them.

I took pictures of the supports I use...

I then sent them to myself (iPhone to email)...

 Finally, I pasted them to a Word or Publisher document, added some captions, and...Voila!

If you choose to include a sample of an IEP you've written,
make sure to cross out an identifiable information!
Side note: If you include an IEP, it is probably not necessary to include every section (do you think they care about the Transportation page, or the Service Delivery Grid? Probably not). Just include which portions you contributed to.

Last: Put It All Together

Gather all of your work samples, resumes, cover pages, etc. Order them based on your Table of Contents and insert them into your portfolio! Now, simply put this into your teacher bag, follow last week's tips, and you are ready for your interview!

For more posts in the series, click the button below.

Good luck!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

TBT: Incriminating Photos!

Happy Friday Eve,

Today, I am linking up with The Teacher's Desk for Throwback Thursday. This TBT Post is from my classroom days and is all about making mess illegal in the classroom (sorta). To join the TBT fun, click the image below to link up!

The original post goes all the way back to September, 2012:

I am not the most organized individual. I have to work very hard to keep my life orderly and clutter-free. However, I understand the importance of teaching others how to maintain sanity and order in their life through organization. WHich is why I have begun to make clutter and disorganization ILLEGAL in my classroom! not illegal, but I have begun to have fun with this idea with my kiddos. I take pictures around my classroom of clutter and mess, paste them on the white board and direct the students to the "Incriminating Photos" found around the classroom. 

Exhibit A: The Bad Kitty bin is a wreck!

Exhibit B: Books on the floor?! How can that be?

Exhibit C: Not the Angry Birds!

Exhibit D: What a disaster!
As soon as these photos are seen, my detectives get to work to right the wrongs! It certainly keeps my room spotless :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

10 Tips to Nail That Teacher Interview

Greeting friends!

Summertime means so many things to so many people. To me, it has always reminded me of a break from the chaos of everyday life (especially when I was a kid with no summer job, or a teacher with no summer job).  Even though now I'm in a year-round position, the summer still reminds me of easy-living, relaxing by the beach, and eating watermelon on my porch. However, I know how unrealistic that life is, especially to those who are frantically looking for a job for the school year. Between the resume building, Linked-In (or School Spring) networking, and interview mania, it can be easy to slow down and feel prepared for your potentially life-changing experience ahead. That's why I want to ease some anxiety and provide you with some tips for prepping for that dreaded teacher interview.

Fonts and Graphics Cred: Hello Fonts, Mrs. Leeby, + MyCuteGraphics
1. Get sleep! I know it's hard, especially when a lot is on the line (like the start of the school year is 2 days away), but do your best to get a good night's sleep. You would hate to wake up the next morning looking like a boxer (who lost). There are lots of ways to increase the quality of your sleep using preventative or long-term methods, but for those of you don't have time for that, stick with these tips the night before your interview:

      • Power off. Turn off your electronic devices 2 hours before you hit the sheets. Research shows that the lights emitted from our typical electronic devices (cell phones, tablets, TV) overstimulate our senses which make it difficult to relax our brains to prepare for sleep.
      • Limit the amount of water you consume before bed to avoid midnight trips to the bathroom. Also, make sure you eat something no less than 2 hours (but no more than 4) before bed to avoid an upset stomach (from either being too stuffed or too hungry).
      • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, you may even consider avoiding it after 11 am, as some studies have found it can continue to alert you up to 10 hours after consumption.
      • Go to bed! Turn on your fan or AC (studies show a cool room is conducive to a good night's sleep), crawl into a freshly made bed (I don't know if research supports this, but it always feels good to wrap yourself in clean, fresh sheets), and shut off the lights. Do whatever you typically do before bed to ensure your cycle remains consistent. If your body cannot relax without music, turn it on! If you just HAVE to read a chapter before you turn off the light, do it! Just make sure you get some sleep!

2. Eat breakfast! Not just any breakfast though! Eat a filling breakfast that includes protein and complex carbs. This will help to sustain your energy and keep you full throughout the day (at least through your interview). How embarrassing would it be to yawn during introductions, or hear a loud rumbling in your stomach as you sit in the already awkward silence waiting for the next question. For my favorite filling, complex breakfast, check out my #RunTeacherRun recipe for Mason Jar Steel Cut Oats, in the #RunTeacherRun tab. This is make-ahead so you need to be prepared for that too! Add some almonds to up the protein. *When worse comes to worse, just eat something. If you are not a "breakfast" person, have a piece of fruit, a handful of almonds, or just allow yourself more time in the morning so that you are up and awake long enough for your body to build up an appetite. Breakfast is the key to success my friends!

3. Dress to Impress! There is no such thing as being too conservative (when it comes to your professional attire). Whether you are interviewing for an alternative-learning, creative preschool, or a suburban prep school, dress in business-professional attire. It is much better to over-dress than to under-dress (imagine the horror!). Also, to my female professionals - be mindful of your accessories and make-up. You want to look professional, and sophisticated. Leave the large blingy hoop earrings and deep purple lipstick at home (unless of course, you can pull this out without distracting from your inner awesomeness. I haven't seen it done, but that doesn't mean it's not possible).

4. Print copies of your resume, cover letter, list of references, etc. When you are expecting 1 person in your interview, and you arrive to a conference room with 7 people sitting around the table, questions in hand, it's good to be prepared to provide them ALL with these things (especially the resume part). This simple step makes you look professional and prepared. Or, even better...

5. Create a mini-portfolio! Did you have to create one of these chunkers for your undergrad or graduate course work? You know who wants to look at this? No one. Sorry, but it's the truth. That being said, interviewers want to see your capabilities. They want you to highlight the most important features of your work to showcase. Instead of slamming a 7-pound binder on the table, consider providing them with a thin, condensed version of your work samples. It's inexpensive (requires printing and purchasing portfolio folders) and a offers the interviewer(s) a chance to really examine your work and style. Additionally, this looks great, as it shows you are committed to quality work, organized, and prepared - all great teacher qualities.

Font and Graphics Cred: Mad Clips Factory + Hello Fonts
6. Do Your Research! Before any job interview, no matter what the job title or organization, you must be prepared to ask and answer specific questions about the position/school/agency, etc. To show you are motivated and eager to fill the position, you should reference the school or organization's mission statement. It's also important to research your future place of employment to prepare for any questions you may have about the position. Imagine asking the common question: "What professional development opportunities do you provide for your employees?" when there is an entire page devoted to this topic on their website. It's even better to use what you've learned on the website to tailor your questions. For example, after doing your research, you notice that a recent initiative has been pushed throughout the school to increase the amount of technology in the classrooms. You may want to ask questions about the specific goals of the initiative, or ask about which types of technology are used and/or encouraged in the classroom. I cannot stress enough about the importance of researching not only your specific position, but the organization and the overall community in which you will (hopefully) be working.

7. Gather all important contact info. Do this before you leave! Few things are more anxiety-provoking than driving to your interview and realizing you don't have the exact address. Or the name of the contact person you are to be meeting with. Or being stuck in traffic behind an accident and having no number to call to let them know. Be prepared by printing off all contact names, numbers, the address, parking info, building info, etc. Sometimes the website will give you a general address, but really, your interview is on the "south campus" and it's best to park on "Cross Street" rather than "Bridge Street" because or "street sweeping" but you don't know this because you didn't print that email the interviewer sent you 3 days ago because you figured you'd just check the website before you go. (I'm not speaking from experience or anything...)

8. Print directions too! Do all those things above, and then make sure you print directions to your location as well. Do this even if you have GPS as GPS can sometimes often crap out at the most inopportune time. Or GPS Lady will tell you to turn left after you've passed through the intersection. Maybe also have a map in your car, just in case... (I forgot...Gen Ys don't really know how to read maps. Well, have it in there for fun anyways because maps are amazing)

9. Sell yourself by being yourself. Why would you want to accept a job that hired you based on a lie. Be yourself. If you are appropriate for the job and community, it will shine through your behavior, demeanor, and attitude. Don't be shy about your strengths and accomplishments. Don't be embarrassed by your deficits either. Be honest. Be you. (That being said, if you swear like a fisherman like I do, I don't suggest letting that part of your personality shine through)

10. Smile and Breath. You got a job interview. Congrats! On paper, you look great, which is why they requested an interview. Now, show them how great you really are on the inside too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Job-Hunting Teacher: A New Series

Good evening friends,

Just a quick post to let you know that, starting tomorrow, I will be writing a new, weekly series devoted to all things job-hunting related for educators. Check each Wednesday leading up to September for a new post devoted to this topic. Please share these posts with any and all of your friends looking for some new teacher, or job-hunting advice. See you all tomorrow :)

Fonts and Graphics Cred: Hello Fonts + MyCuteGraphics

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Get to Know Me

Happy Saturday!

I hope your weekend is off to a fabulous start. Mine did not start out so great…

Yesterday, I got in a moderately significant accident on my way to work. I was not injured, nor was anyone that was directly involved in our part of the chain (yes…I'll get to that), but I can't say the same about my car. All in all I think I counted a total of 13 cars involved in the accident. It was on the highway at a point where the lanes merge down to just 2 lanes. My assumption is that whoever started the chain of rear-endings and spin-outs was traveling too fast when it came time to merge, thus slamming on his/her brakes. Twelve cars later, a traffic jam ensued and a large accident was reported. My car was "drivable"according to the tow truck driver - put only to a body shop within the area. So that's where it sits until insurance can come assess the damage. 

My poor Nissan emblem is gone :(

The pictures don't really do its justice, however it could have been worse. You should have seen the poor kid in front of me! (I say kid because…he was. He was on his way to his freshmen orientation at Endicott College and was so worried he'd get in trouble! Aww…) His car looked like the front had been put through an industrial-sized shredder. Totally totaled. Yikes.

The tow truck driver unofficially estimated my damage at a few thousand. We'll see…

In light of all this, I have decided to link up with Tales of a Carolina Girl for a fun linky for Special Educators. I know, I know…technically I am not one anymore. However, my current job still requires the same sets of skills, and my blog will still be devoted to those with special needs. So I think I fit into this exclusive group, no?

If you are a special educator and want to join in on the fun, make sure to click the button below to link up!

Oh hey, what do you think of my new blog design and button? If you hate it, keep it to yourself.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Wish List: Dream Desk

Greetings friends,

Transitioning to a new job means shopping for new fun office decor-type stuffs. My office is still pretty bare, and I'm looking to spruce it up a bit. This inspired me to create a wish list for my new office.

Wish List: Dream Desk

one. Check out this beautiful Himalayan Salt Lamp. How gorgeous would this be, displayed on your desk?

two. With my new fancy profesh business cards, I need a new fancy, awesome business card holder. How cute it this?

three. I'm always looking at new planners, even if I don't need one. This Kate Spade Agenda is just stunning. If I splurge on this beauty, I doubt my wandering eye will be looking to replace it.

four. Um, c'mon. Who doesn't absolutely need a Morris the Donkey Memo Holder? The answer is nobody. Nobody doesn't absolutely need this. Translation: everybody does.

five. So, by now in my blogging career, you must know how much I love me some cats. Before it was cool to love cats. But, it's always been cool to love cats. And now, you can show your love for cats with this awesome Cat Jewelry Dish.

six. Hydration is key to success. So is this sleek, hip water bottle.

seven. Desks need some organization I suppose. This pencil cup will do the trick.

eight. Every unique pencil cup needs some unique pencils. Preferably natural wood.

nine. Flowers make everyone happy. Especially peonies.

ten. Of course, my amazing pencil sharpener that I've recommended time and time again.

What is on your dream desk wish list?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Quickie Post: Educents Deal!

Happy 4th!

Just dropping in super quick to let you know you can get $5 off for new members of Educents! Just click the image below to send you to the site to redeem this coupon! Share this page with others (I must admit, there is an incentive for me as well, as an affiliate) who may not be familiar with the awesome-ness of Educents!

If you are interested about learning more about Educents in general, check out my previous post here. You can also click the Educents website to learn more.

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