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

Applying & Hiring

Over the last few weeks I had an opportunity to meet some of the student teachers in our district. While there are still more I’d like to meet, this was a good start to the Spring application and hiring process.

The student teachers asked some great questions, and some of the posts I’ve read provide a variety of points to consider in response to those questions.

I previously posted some of my own thoughts about hiring [here], and, as I wrote, we continue to look for ways to improve our processes to attract and hire the best candidates possible.

We have been developing screening rubrics to help assess applications at each stage of the process, including university training, student teaching, and references.  We also earlier began revamping our interview questions, again using rubrics to better assess each candidate.

We have recruited and hired some excellent teachers in the past; however, we continue to make adjustments.  We have a number of administrators who we will include in screening and interviewing this Spring, and we hope our work will provide increased consistency in hiring.

Below are some posts, articles, and reports I’ve come across over the last while, which hopefully will assist applicants and interviewers as they prepare.

I also plan to update this post as I come across additional/new resources.






Emotions available upon request. by @l_hilt

Autonomy in Teacher Training? by  @mrwejr

Dear Teacher Applicant by @johnnybevacqua

What do Principals Look for When they Hire? by @peterjory

Response: What Principals Look For In A Prospective Teacher by @larryferlazzo

Cover Letter Tips via Education Week

How to Write a Cover Letter That Employers Will Actually Read via @makeafuture

The Rules that Guide Great Teachers by @coolcatteacher

“What do you mean I can interact with your resume ?” – 21st CENTURY RESUMES by @mr_levy1

How To Redesign Your Resume For A Recruiter’s 6-Second Attention Span via @makeafuture

Your All-in-One Interview Prep Guide via The Daily Muse

Spring Clean Your Resume (in Less Than 2 Hours!) via The Daily Muse

Student Teaching via @peterjory

Teacher Vitae and Resume Suggestions by The EDU Edge

How Important is GPA in Getting a Teaching Job? by The EDU Edge

8 Top Resume Mistakes to Avoid via @makeafuture

Student Teaching Right Now? To Ask or Not to Ask Your Principal to do an Observation… That is the Question. by The EDU Edge

Top Strategies for Selecting References for a Teacher Interview by The EDU Edge

How Your Social Media Profile Could Make Or Break Your Next Job Opportunity via

Top 10 Ways to Make It Through The Initial Screening for a Teaching Position by The EDU Edge

Interview Snafus via Texas Principal





Behind the Mask: How to Effectively Evaluate a Candidate Before Interviewing via @janetstewart

Are Teacher Preparation Programs Dangerously Irrelevant? guest post at Dangererously Irrelevant

What Do We Need Our Teachers To Be? by @l_hilt

Teacher Diversity in Canada: Leaky Pipelines, Bottlenecks, and Glass Ceilings via @makeafuture

Personalized Learning: A Human Resources Perspective on Hiring 21st Century Educators by @janetstewart

Treat job candidates well, or risk a backlash via @janetstewart

Possible Interview Questions for Teachers by @gcouros

Staffing: What It Is and Isn’t! via Education Week

6 Common Hiring Mistakes – And How You Can Avoid Them via @bchrma

Hiring Wisdom: Do Your Interview Questions Look For Positive Outcomes? via @bchrma

TEACHER “DRAFT” by Tom Grant

HR for Principals: Interviewing & Hiring Part I by School HR

HR for Principals: Interviewing & Hiring Part II by School HR

HR for Principals: Interviewing and Hiring – The Postscript by School HR

On Your Mark, Get Set, Interview by School HR


(photo credit: Samuel Mann via photopin cc)

Don’t Wait for Superman

Update:  links to other blogs for those “Applying & Hiring” here.

I just finished the last chapter, System Leaders, of The Moral Imperative Realized. Fullan begins the chapter with identifying three forms of “system leadership”:

    1. school leaders who link to other schools
    2. school leaders who take positions that oversee/help other schools
    3. system leaders who lead and direct whole system reform

Fullan later uses Ontario, with reference to Finland, Singapore, etc, as an example of linking moral purpose and strategy to illustrate the importance of all leaders working together to focus on eight important and necessary components:

    1. A small number of ambitious goals
    2. A guiding coalition at the top
    3. High standards and expectations
    4. Investment in leadership and capacity building related to instruction
    5. Mobilizing data and effective practices as a strategy for improvement
    6. Intervention in a nonpunitive manner
    7. Being vigilant about distracters
    8. Being transparent, relentless, and increasingly challenging

It is important not to take each of these statements in isolation, but to further explore the meaning Fullan attributes to each of these components. In particular, for me, I find value in Fullan’s further expansion on the sixth component to, “encourage risk taking, learning, and sharing of successful practices while intervening in a nonpunitive manner.” This particular strategy, Fullan explains, is, “deliberately light on judgment.” This is linked to a question posed in a previous post about Chapter 3 [here], “are leaders allowed to make mistakes, learn from errors, and move forward having learned… or do leaders fear criticism and backlash from above?”

Early in the book, Fullan references the movie Waiting for “Superman”, and in this chapter he emphasizes that there is no Superman coming, and that we need to be doing the work ourselves. He reminds us that “creating dramatically better leadership and working conditions with associated capacity building prior to and during one’s career” is imperative.

Fullan states that Finland, Singapore, South Korea, and, in some cases, Canada, have, “figured out that the quality of the teacher force and moral purpose realized are one and the same.” Fullan references a report (McKinsey & Company, 2010) examining the teaching profession in the United States compared to Finland, South Korea, and Singapore. In these three countries the teaching force is made up of the “30+ group” (100% of teachers in these countries are made up of the top 30% of university graduates plus “suitability to teach”). The research used in this report suggests that in the U.S. 23% of teachers come from the highest university ranks, and only, “9% of the top-third of college graduates” intended to enter the teaching profession.

Fullan acknowledges that improving pay and financial incentives is necessary, but is not the only solution to achieving the desired results. Fullan continues to include the following factors which the remaining 91% identified that they value in a job:

    • Quality of co-workers
    • Prestige
    • Challenging work environment
    • High quality training

These are also some of the qualities the 91% found lacking in the teaching profession, and some of the factors Fullan indicates are necessary to fully realize the moral imperative.

@LynHilt [here], @PeterJory [here], and @jvbevacqua [here] recently posted their thoughts on interviewing and hiring. I also recently read a brief article entitled Behind the Mask: How to Effectively Evaluate a Candidate Before Interviewing which offers some great reminders when screening applications.

In this last year, the “other duties as assigned” as per my administrative contract has included hiring teachers to the District’s Teacher-on-Call list. This is one of the responsibilities I do find interesting. However, recruitment, selection, and hiring is not a perfect science. We continue to adjust our practices in our efforts to increase the reliability of our decisions.

Our process for considering applicants currently includes several stages, with further screening before contemplating a move through to each stage.  There are so many factors to consider at each point in the process. However, I believe that above all, the candidates considered must have demonstrated excellent qualities in all areas of the classroom, including instruction, assessment, and connections with students. We also look for the personal and personable qualities the applicant brings to the job. We further consider what the applicant brings and can contribute to the school and community.

We sometimes get feedback that these are “just” Teacher-on-Call positions, some of these applicants “might” improve over time, and as a result some of our concerns should not be a big deal.  However, it is ultimately important to remember that shaping employees is more difficult once they’re in, so it is important to ensure that applicants considered and hired have strong foundations on which to build.

Recently, a guest blogger on Dangerously Irrelevant [here] and @chriswejr [here] commented on teacher education programs. However, it was a panel discussion at a symposium last month, which included @janetstewart, that especially extended my thinking further.

One of the questions posed to the panel included a query as to what needs to be done to raise the teaching profession. Separate from comments regarding our present workforce, some of the points which stood out for me included the notion that we shouldn’t be assuming that universities and teacher education programs will inspire students to meet our needs and thus provide the quality applicants we require.

We do however, I believe, need to, in conjunction with Post-Secondary, continue to encourage our best teachers to take on university students for their student-teaching placements, and provide the mentorship and guidance necessary to further strengthen our teaching ranks.

The panel affirmed that recruitment, selection, and hiring practices have not changed much despite changing times. However, it was pointed out that if we’re not entirely getting the people we want, we need to ensure that we target the right people.

The panel challenged us to consider the value and importance of attracting, encouraging, and inspiring the brightest high school students to the profession.  I’ve always enjoyed observing the students I’ve known over the years who found their passions early in life – the students who put their energies into pursuing their dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, musicians, artists, athletes, mechanics, chefs, etc.  What a system we could have if we mobilized a large number of youth early, passionate about pursuing the goal of becoming teachers.  Imagine the energy, enthusiasm, and excitement as an increased number of our students approach and enter their post-secondary lives with the passion to be teachers already instilled.

In order to begin approaching this goal, one of the significant pieces which needs to be in place, in part, is to ensure that we have engaging and innovative role models in the classroom who will help grow this cause.

Ultimately, we need to inspire and attract the best to the profession – whatever we determine constitutes the “best.” Improving the system is hard work. It takes time, and it takes persistence. However, what a missed opportunity if we don’t make every effort to put the strategies in place to do so.

Update:  links to other blogs for those “Applying & Hiring” here.

photo credit: Xurble via photopin cc