Applying & Hiring – Part 3

Job Interview


It’s that time of year during which our interactions with student teachers change as practicums have concluded or are in the home stretch.  Attention for many, besides upcoming university classes, now turns to the application process.

Like many other districts, we receive hundreds of applications.  Not all are considered for an interview.  However, we want each applicant to put their best foot forward and increase their chances of a successful application.

Below are some of the topics which have arisen during our meetings with student teachers and the advice specific to our District:


Cover Letters

    • Consider what you want to highlight in your cover letter and how this information will set you apart from other applicants
    • Ensure the necessary changes are made if using the same cover letter for applications to more than one District
      • “I’m applying to theFeilding School District because….”
        • (our HR Department hires for the North Vancouver School District… and Feilding is in New Zealand – nice place by the way….)
    • Pay attention to details
      • “To:  Mr. key, Superintendent of scho0ls” (as opposed to “Mr. Kee, District Principal”)
    • Smelling Spelling counts
    • Fancy fonts not necessary


    • If more than 1 page is necessary to illustrate qualifications and related professional experience…
      • use more than 1 page
    • Provide relevant information
    • Pay attention to details
    • Spelling counts
    • Fancy fonts not necessary


  • Receive permission from your professional references before their names and contact info are submitted
  • Use your Faculty Advisor and School Advisor(s) as references
  • “References available upon request”
    • *** This is our request ***



  • We are aware that upcoming school district interviews will be among the first professional interviews for many applicants
    • Marks are not deducted for nervousness
  • We use behavioural based questions
  • Questions are not designed to trick or stump
    • We want applicants to show us who they really are
  • Questions will cover a number of different areas including curriculum, instruction, assessment, social emotional learning, and classroom management
  • Portfolios
    • If bringing a portfolio to the interview consider how it might be used when answering specific types of questions as opposed to a show-and-tell at the end of the interview
    • If using an e-portfolio make sure the technology works before the interview (including Wi-Fi if needed)

Looking forward to receiving applications!




Related Posts:

Teaching in Public Schools???

From Student Teacher to Teacher/TTOC

Applying & Hiring – Part 2

Applying & Hiring



photo credit: Application – pen via photopin (license)


Whatever Happened to “Vintage” Social Media and Recruiting?



(Image via Edudemic)


I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with Teacher Candidates last month {Teaching in Public Schools???}.

My presentation included a number of tweets and also links to blog posts which I thought might be useful to illustrate the points I wanted to make and as a resource afterwards.  During a Q & A period one student asked if he would be at a disadvantage when applying for jobs because he wasn’t on Twitter.  Another asked who to follow to increase the chances of getting a job.

In retrospect, perhaps I needed to frame my presentation differently.


Is Twitter use essential/required of applicants to our District?


Do we use social media for recruiting?

A little.

Is an understanding of and a facility with technology expected of our new teacher applicants?



For those drawn to social media, each person has their own reasons for being engaged through the use of technology.  In the education world, Twitter and blogs have become very popular.

Twitter for me has become crucial for professional development in staying connected to and current with teaching and learning conversations.  In HR, my interactions around teaching and learning are mostly connected to the hiring process and teacher evaluation.  In the world of hiring, how do I determine what constitutes a great teacher ready to work with today’s students?  How do I support my school-based colleagues in evaluating teacher competence above and beyond explaining the Collective Agreement processes?



A by-product of using social media for my own learning is also the connections initiated by teacher candidates.  It is interesting to get a sense of their journeys during their university education classes and practicums.

I am looking forward to seeing the experiences and growth of these teacher candidates.  Maybe these social media connections are their foot in the door as they prepare for the application process.  Perhaps this is an aspect of networking I discussed in the presentation. So, maybe there is an advantage for some teacher candidates in making that initial connection.

However, in the end, we’re still looking to hire the best teachers {Don’t Wait for Superman}, and there are many different ways of demonstrating excellence just as we have several different ways to assess it.

Is social media one of my go-to tools for recruiting?

I don’t know yet.


I still like face-to-face interactions.


But I am paying attention to my new connections.


While technology is not my world by nature, I am surprised to the extent it has become woven into my day to day work and personal life.  I can see how easy it would be for the time spent on social media to become all encompassing.


I appreciate the perspective this video provides.


How connected are we wanting to be?





vine (2)linkedin (2)tumblr (2)appstore (2)googleplus (2)etsy (2)  (Vintage)



Teaching in Public Schools???




Last July I received an invite from one of our local universities to speak to teacher candidates again in September.

Public speaking and presenting is not my passion, but investing in teacher education… our future… is.

At that time our teachers’ federation and provincial government were in the heat of the contract battle, but I agreed to present, optimistically thinking that by September there would be labour peace and that I’d have the opportunity to provide a positive and encouraging message for our future colleagues.

My topic?

“Teaching in Public Schools”….

… and I’d be followed by the presenter on…

…teaching in independent schools…..


When I returned to work in mid-August there was still no end in sight. The Labour Day weekend, which normally signalled the return of students and teachers to school, came and went. Besides sweating the day-to-day work in assisting schools in preparing for the upcoming school year, whenever it was to begin, I was now also becoming anxious about the timing of my upcoming presentation.

Right up until the night before the Secondary session, I attempted to revise and tweak the presentation in hopes that I could help make sense of this turbulent time and somehow leave student teachers with a positive optimistic message that would help propel them forward as they prepare to join our profession. At some point that evening I hit the wall, and realized I could do no more.

After a restless night I got up early to discover a reason for hope:


Baldrey Tweet


I had no time to change the Powerpoint, but knew I had to quickly change my plans for the delivery.

The presentation to Secondary student teachers was a bit rocky, but I knew I had a day before repeating the presentation to Elementary/Middle School student teachers. I’m not sure what led me to believe that I would have any time to work on the presentation given that we would have only a few days to get schools up and running.

The result: only a minor change to the Powerpoint, and once again the need to change the delivery on the fly.

In the presentations I tried to convey what led me to teaching, and how my personal experiences shaped who I became as a person and as an educator; how interactions early in my childhood would shape the focus and purpose of one of my missions in schools {Mosaic, Melting Pot, Tolerance…. Which is it?}; the issues that became priorities {What got our students there?, We are not cookie-cutter kids. Cashing in on Opportunity = Responsibility, On “How Do We Identify & Teach Students with Learning Difficulties” and #edcampdelta}; and the need to be open to how our careers paths may evolve and change.

However, most of all, I wanted to leave a message of the importance that teacher candidates stay focused on, and to not forget, the passion and purpose that has drawn each of us into the world of education.



Teaching in public schools – UBC 2014 from M. Kee


And by the way….

My slide, “Your attitude will determine your altitude.”…

– I didn’t come up with that. Others have also used it.


…I got it from Big Willy on MasterChef….


Think Like a Proton.jpg-large


From Student Teacher to Teacher/TTOC


I was recently invited to speak to Elementary and Middle Years Teacher Candidates at one of our local universities about the application and hiring process in our school district.

The application and interview processes for getting that first position shouldn’t be a surprise, trick, or a mystery.  It’s important to set the stage to enable applicants to best show who they really are and what they can potentially bring to not only the school district but, more importantly, the students in our classes.

Establishing opportunities for success for each student in our schools/classes is so important.  Likewise, we want our applicants to have every chance for success as they apply and interview for their first teaching opportunities.

While I was speaking from the context of our own organization, the intent was to offer guidance and suggestions as Student Teachers prepare to apply anywhere.  There are great things happening across the province in every school district, and I hope that university students who are preparing to join our ranks are provided not only quality opportunities through their job searches, but opportunity and encouragement to pursue their passions.

The presentation is shared below.

Other helpful posts for those applying and hiring can also be found here:

Applying & Hiring

Applying & Hiring – Part 2

Please share your thoughts, links, and recommendations for our future colleagues.

photo credit: jon.liu via photopin cc

Applying & Hiring – Part 2

Job Application

Now that the school year is underway, among other things, we turn our attention back to the recruiting process.  Over the coming months we will be attending job fairs at the local universities to meet students in their final year of teacher preparation.

Also, in the New Year I’ve been asked to speak to student teachers at one of the universities about the process of moving from a teacher candidate to teacher.

The presentation will include suggestions to consider when applying and interviewing for positions.  I previously posted links to blog posts about applying and interviewing for both job seekers and employers [here].  I hope to draw attention to select posts which are still active and some of the newer ones I’ve come across (below) during the presentation.

I’d be interested to know if there are other posts which would be useful to share with pre-service teachers, but also points for student teachers to keep in mind as they are preparing applications and for interviews.

Please share your links and thoughts.


Dear Practicum Student

How to get the More out of your Practicum Experience


3 Things That Will Get Your Resume Thrown in the Trash

5 important steps to job interview success

5 Job Seeker Resolutions to Make in 2014

5 Reasons Your Portfolio Should Be Online

5 Ways Your Cover Letter Lost You the Job

7 Important Tips to Making your Job Application Stand Out

8 Quick & Easy Resume Tips You Can Use Now

Don’t Be Boring: How To Write A Cover Letter That Can Get You The Job

How to Ace Your Interview for a Teaching Position

How to Best Prepare for Your Job Interview

Is a Two-Page Resume Ever OK?

Is Your Resume 6-Second Worthy?

Interviewing Tip: Mind Your Buzz Words

Making the First Impression Count: 5 Interviewing Tips for Introverts

My Biggest Interview Mistakes Ever (and How to Avoid Them)

Nailing the Job Interview

Read my blog, not my resume…

Resume & Cover Letter Tips for Articulating Your Awesomeness

Six Steps To A Resume Upgrade

Teacher Interviews: Common Sense and Professional Advice

The 5 Biggest Resume Debates Among Recruiters—Finally Answered

The Power of Face-to-Face Networking for Recruitment & Job Search

The Perfect Elevator Pitch To Land A Job

The Teacher Interview Process – How to Stand Out

The Ultimate Guide to Being an Interview Pro

What Interviewers Wish They Could Tell Every Job Candidate

Top 5 Elementary Teacher Interview Questions

Things to Consider When Preparing for Your Special Education Job Interview


Good Job Descriptions Make Good Hires

Good Job Descriptions Make Good Hires Part 2

Inside Information: 16 Interview Tips for Principals

Student Teacher Observations/Interview Process

What’s Wrong With Using Resumes For Hiring? Pretty Much Everything

Why unstructured job interviews are a waste of time

photo credit: Ann Arbor District Library via photopin cc

Reputations: Easy to Get.… Hard to Lose….

I’ve been struggling with this post for a while now.

I’ve thought a lot about personal and professional growth for most of my career, and one of the difficulties I’ve had has been getting my head around reputations by which we become identified – both positive and negative.

I’ve read a few posts (including Judgement or Talent – Harry Potter and Leadership by @jordantinney and Professional Learning and Employee Support by Tom Grant) which do a better job of articulating thoughts about the importance of support than I ever could; however, I have not been able to escape the desire to put something down about reputations.

A few years ago, a Principal colleague and I were speculating about the upcoming period in which administrators would receive the news as to their assignments for the next school year. Some of us would be staying put, while some would be on the move to new schools and become part of new teams. As the conversation started to lead towards the compositions of teams and who we thought would be a good fit in each school, the conversation began to head towards the uncomfortable topic of character and reputations. Before we went any further, he commented that he didn’t want to perpetuate any unfair reputations or rumours.

That comment has stuck in my head ever since, and I recently had the opportunity to share with him how important it was to me.

Sometimes it’s just a single comment (true or inaccurate) from one person and sometimes it is discussions within a group that can catapult a person’s reputation, and as a result their career, in a number of different directions, positive and negative.

How many of us are aware of the reputations we carry with us in our day-to-day work? While many will say that they don’t care, as leaders we have a responsibility to our colleagues, to our staff, and to our organizations to propel everyone, including ourselves, forward in a positive direction.

I think about how reputations stick, at times unfairly, with little opportunity to change the perceptions of others.

I think about mistakes we make early and later in our career.

How often are people placed in a position in which they take on new tasks or responsibilities only to falter in approach and consequently results? How do we regard those who try new things or think “outside the box?” Do those who work above, or alongside, wait for people to falter and then criticize or reprimand? Do we label due to a singular or series of instances, without providing an opportunity to learn and move forward positively? Do we have an uneven playing field in which some are encouraged regardless while some are ignored or faulted.

How do we help the people with whom we work improve and grow? How do we help our organizations improve and grow?

When considering leadership and succession planning, we sometimes look around and comment on the lack of or weaknesses of potential leaders in the field with the requisite skills, experiences, and abilities required to fill our needs. The common commentaries are often focused on poor hiring and poor character. However, we also need to consider what WE do to support and develop from within – not just who we regard as the top staff but ALL staff.

We all learn from experience, and sometimes those learning opportunities need to be identified for us. Sometimes we need help to get over the hump. I can’t think of a better way for this to occur but from a position of relationship and support. The importance of relationships has been something I’ve always kept in the forefront [post].

The Principal mentioned above recently shared with me the difficult conversations he had with one of his colleagues. He pointed out some of the reputation that had been following him around, and in turn his colleague shared some personal information of which no one was aware but provided context to how he operated. Nevertheless, from that point on he has made a conscious effort to try to avoid the things which feed the reputation that has developed over the years, and perhaps, if people have been paying attention, those changes have been noticed.

Another Principal colleague recently shared a similar story in which he also had one of those difficult conversations with a colleague who couldn’t understand the cause of the problems she was having with staff and students. He capitalized on an opportunity to help her understand how some of the approaches she was using were unintentionally short-circuiting relationships, and he used that as an opportunity to work with her and offer support so that she wouldn’t be trying to turn things around on her own.

However, it’s unfortunate how long people can go on without anyone caring enough to intervene AND offer and provide needed support. Sometimes it’s due to lack of relationships. Sometimes it’s a perception of roles and responsibilities. Sometimes it’s because people have already been written off. Sometimes it is wanting to communicate and work only with the “rock stars.”  Sometimes there’s no problem at all… just a perception that’s been created by others.

With students our understanding, by and large, is that they will make mistakes and will need help to learn and move forward.  We also understand the importance of advocating for the misunderstood.  Many of us acknowledge our role in these regards.

Why should it not be the same for our colleagues and staff?

It’s good for the people with whom we work, it’s good for our organizations… and it’s good for reputations.

(photo credit: Joe Houghton via photo pin cc)


I recently read a post on employee engagement [here] which includes the video below.  While the categories don’t necessarily appeal to the author of the post, and I wouldn’t necessarily advocate labeling people in the workplace, the thoughts described in the video provide interesting points to consider in the work we do.

While not focused on education, one can draw connections to the work of district leaders, school administrators, and teachers.

The video explains that success is defined by organization and business goals.  How well you achieve these goals is defined by performance.

Individuals provide high contribution in a successful organization.  At the same time, employees (executives, managers, staff) are on a path of their own personal definition of success, and looking for maximum personal satisfaction.

What employees want to get (satisfaction) and are prepared to give (contribution) intersect.  There are different levels of satisfaction and different levels of contribution and, as a result, different levels of engagement.

The “5 levels of engagement” outlined in the video and described in the post are:

Engaged:  These employees are contributing fully to the success of the organization and find great satisfaction in their work. They apply discretionary effort and take initiative.

(High on satisfaction & high on Contribution)

Almost Engaged:  These employees are reasonably satisfied with their jobs and are among the highest performers.

(In the centre. Decent performers and reasonably satisfied.)

Honeymooners & Hamsters:  Honeymooners are new to the organization or role and have yet to become fully productive. Hamsters may be working hard but focused on the wrong things — or they may be hardly working. The outcome is the same: maximum satisfaction for them and minimum satisfaction for the organization.

(High on satisfaction, but not fully contributing)

Crash & Burners:  This group is the opposite of the one above. They are high performers, delivering what the organization needs, but disillusioned or not achieving their personal definition of success.

(Great results, but not getting what they want.  Will quit or pull back on their contributions – quit and stay.)

Disengaged:  Disengaged employees are the most disconnected from organizational priorities and are not getting what they want from their work.

(Low on satisfaction and contribution)

The video emphasizes that creating a more engaged workplace:

  • can’t be solved with a survey and a few organizational wide initiatives.
  • is not the sole job of Executives and Managers
  • must be a daily priority
  • is a shared responsibility – team approach (executives, managers,
    and individuals)

The video outlines the following roles:

Individuals must “ACT

  • Assess own goals & satisfaction drivers – What does success look like?
  • Communicate w/ Managers – aspirations, needs, & what the organization needs from them
  • Take Action – need help, guidance, but they own their engagement

Managers must “CARE” about engagement

  • Coach for performance and development
  • Align priorities, interests, & talents w/ organization goals
  • Recognize achievements & effort
  • Engage selves & individual team members about what matters for the organization and them

Executives (Sr. Leaders) must model, lead by example, set the tone, and make their “CASE” for engagement

  • foster sense of Community
  • be Authentic in what they say & do
  • provide Significance to aims of organization & help employees find meaning in the work they do
  • build Excitement to move the organization forward

By making engagement an important part of the organization – a daily occurrence rather than an event – a culture of engagement that drives performance helps individuals achieve ambitions and satisfaction, and also contributes to organizational success.

I need to continue to consider engagement in my current role working with members of the department, but also in the way our department supports school administrators and staff.

What does all this mean to you in your work as a:

  • District Administrator/Leader with district staff and building administrators and staff?
  • School Administrator with staff and students?
  • Department Leader with colleagues?
  • Teacher with the students in your class?




(photo credit: cityyear via photo pin cc)