StarTeaching Feature Writer
Dr. Manute is a well-renowned world traveler, guest speaker, and educational consultant.  

Dr. Manute holds multiple degrees in several educational fields. He has taught in both stateside and international school communities.  He has extensive experience (25 years) in school administration.  He also has worked at the university level, supervising teacher interns and teaching undergraduate courses.
 
 You can  contact Dr. Manute at:
howiebrowndog@yahoo.com

Past Articles from Dr. Manute:

Preparing for your Student Teaching Experience (part 1)
Preparing for your Student Teaching Experience (part 2)
Working with a Mentor (part 3)

Finding That First Job (part 1)
Where to Find that First Job (part 2)

 

Coming Soon:  Ask Dr. Manute!

Questions and answers from a world leading expert on educational issues.

StarTeaching Special Report:

Preparing To Enter The Job Market: 
Finding That First Job -

By Dr. Peter Manute., Educational Consultant

This is a first in a series of informational articles focusing on finding that first teaching job. 

Statistics indicate that over 3 million people were employed as public school teachers in the United States in the year 2000. Another 400 thousand were employed as private school teachers. (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). Retirement is in the near future as many baby-boomers reach the end of their careers. Federal and state reform initiatives are calling for decreased class sizes and as our national population continues to grow, the need for additional teachers has increased. Beginning teachers have a high drop out rate (about 15% the first year, 15% the second and 10% the third) (Croasmun 1999).

Given these statistics one would think the job market is wide open. In many states this is true, in fact some candidates have indicated signing bonuses, paid moving expenses, and other attractive offers. Some states are even granting teaching licenses through a proficiency test. Securing a teaching job in Michigan however, is not an easy task; it takes an enormous amount of preparation, flexibility and perseverance. It certainly is not for the faint of heart! In todayís teaching market, it is not unusual for a Michigan school district to have over a hundred applicants for a single position.

Competition for teaching jobs is very keen, with candidates coming from a variety of sources. First you have the recent graduates from Colleges and Universities, but also those who didnít secure jobs the previous year. In recent years, a trend has emerged that includes older candidates who are choosing teaching as a second career. Many of these individuals have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the real world. Also thrown into the pool are the candidates from other states who want to relocate. And, there is a certain amount of lateral movement within Michigan School Districts.

Face it, Michigan, because of high standards and solid reputation for excellence, combined with competitive salaries and benefit packages, is one of the best places to teach! 

With careful planning and preparation combined with a certain amount of flexibility, a prospective teaching candidate can and will secure that first job.

The second article in this series will focus on planning and preparation and will include key tips that will provide an excellent starting point.

 

Where to Find that Job!

By Dr. Peter Manute, Educational Consultant 

This article is a second in the sequence of Job Finding articles and will focus on planning and preparation.

The key ingredient in any endeavor is being adequately prepared. In other words develop an action plan. A properly developed plan will help you stay organized and can help deal effectively with a crisis or unforeseen situation.
Chances are you have already invested an enormous amount of money in your education. Now, you are taking the next step Ė expanding your investment to the next level. Once you sign your contract your investment will begin to pay big dividends!

First and foremost, quality time and energy needs to be available to collect and prepare the necessary and appropriate materials that will comprise your professional portfolio. It is amazing how much time this actually takes. The next article in this series will focus on the make-up of your portfolio.

Secondly, knowledge of where jobs are is vital. There are many excellent sources including College and University Placement Offices that publish weekly bulletins that are also available on line. There usually is a charge for these services, around $25.00. There are other sources as you will discover including personal contacts. A good idea is to begin a data base of contacts.

Once you have your materials ready and have actually applied, you will need to be flexible. Openings can occur at any time, even during the school year and often a week before school actually begins. Usually jobs come in waves. Around January and February, retirements are announced and districts begin to plan for the next year. Budgets are developed and positions become available. Job Fairs take place in the spring and provide an excellent opportunity to develop contacts and practice interviewing skills. Many of those contacts lead to jobs immediately or later on. Donít be discouraged about the long lines; be ready when itís your turn.

After the first wave of jobs are filled come the summer openings. Some districts, due to budget constraints, wonít know their financial situation until June or July. In some cases, these schools may choose not to replace retiring teachers in an attempt to save money. And, as stated earlier, some districts wonít be able to make a decision on hiring until August. Donít get discouraged if you are not selected immediately. In many cases you will send out many letters only to receive a rejection letter in reply. The same holds true after an interview when you wait patiently by the telephone or mailbox. In most instances if you make it past the first round of interviews (usually there will be at least 2 and more often 3) you will be called immediately. 

Schools involved in the hiring process usually want to get it completed thoroughly and in a timely manner. During your interview you will be told (if not, it is a good question to ask) about the districtís timelines.

If not contacted within couple of days by telephone, chances are you will not be included in the second round and will be notified by mail. There are some districts, though few who donít respond at all. Donít despair, the contacts you made during your interview can actually lead to other jobs even in the same school!

Part of being flexible means when you get your call you are able to travel. This may involve taking time off work and you will need to have adequate resources. These include transportation, travel money, clothing and other incidentals. Keep in mind these are expenses that are going to be necessary to launch your professional career and will pay off.

Our next article will focus on preparing your portfolio

 

Preparing for Your Student-Teaching Experience

a special report by Dr. Peter Manute and Frank Holes, Jr.
Educational Consultants

 Your student teaching experience is a very important step in your teaching career.  In fact, your entire outlook on teaching and learning can be affected by your success during this period of your life.  This series of articles will help give you excellent 'insider information' on what they didn't teach you in your college classes.  

There are many questions you'll want to pose to yourself far in advance of your student teaching experience. It is important to think carefully about them, as they will help to guide the actions and decisions you make. What kind of teacher do you want to become? Are there other teachers who have been a positive influence on you? Who have been your role models? Are there teachers you've had whose style you want to emulate? Are there teachers you know you don't want to be like? What has worked for some teachers that you want to implement in your own practice?

Who do you see yourself as? What style will you create for your own teaching? How will you balance the subject matter with the care for kids? How do you want the students to see you? How do you want your students to remember you five, ten, or twenty years later on? Will they remember you as a positive influence on them? Could you potentially change their lives?

Create a plan to become your dream. Do it now. Talk with teachers you admire and respect: those you want to model yourself after. Discuss the techniques and ideas that work for them, and use or adapt what you feel is useful. You can also check out the FREE teacher "Who I Want To Be" inventory available on our website. It gives ideas, provides guidance, and helps to create a plan for starting out on your teaching career.

Click here to see the "Who I Want To Be" teacher plan on our website.  

Meeting your mentor teacher as early as possible is very important. The two of you must form a bond, a cohesive unit in the classroom. Your co-op teacher will become the most important contact for this point in your career. They provide you not only with support, guidance, and structure, but also critique. Your co-op teacher's evaluation and recommendation is vital to your resume and to interviewing.

Planning will become very important to every aspect of your life, from school to your personal life. One huge difference is planning for class. Not anymore are you just setting up an activity or a day's lesson plan. Now you must think in terms of the long haul. It becomes a campaign where you must have an overall picture of what you'll cover with your students.

Also within this overall framework, you must have weekly and then daily plans. You'll also have to reflect daily and adjust and (re-adjust) your plans depending upon how each lesson or activity goes (or doesn't go!) The daily grind is often interrupted by school-wide activities, fire drills, and those 'teachable moments' that happen on the spur of the moment. You'll need to be flexible and able to adapt on a daily (or even hourly) basis. But that's a part of teaching!

Another concern many new teachers and student teachers have is becoming involved in extra-curricular activities. There are several ways to look at this. First, it is a good idea to become involved in extra-curriculars at your school. These are good resume' builders, and your involvement shows potential employers you are a team player and willing to go the extra mile for your school and job. Extra curriculars also set you up in a new and different relationship with those students. They are able to see you in a different role too, and many times you're able to create in-roads with students whom you might not otherwise make a connection. Of course, taking part in extra-curriculars means more time and efforts put in, especially when you're already pulled in all directions. However, it is in your best interest to find an activity you can join, even if just as an assistant.

You will also need to carefully plan your personal time while student teaching. In addition to the increased teaching and planning load, your time will be further divided by your college, which undoubtedly has course work or projects for you to accomplish. There are always hoops to jump through. If you have a family, you'll be pulled in even more directions as you find the new balance between home and work.


Preparing for Your Student-Teaching Experience 
(part 2)

 

Being an intern is an interesting position to be in. The university treats you as a student, making you jump through hoops completing projects and meeting deadlines sometimes seeming totally irrelevant to the internship.  The school district you are working in expects you to be a professional educator with all the secrets of innovation and new technologies fresh from the university 'think tank'.  Parents think of you as someone who really doesn't know what they are doing yet and don't understand why you are practicing on their kids.  They are always quick to point out their perceptions of student teachers when a problem arises about grades or behavior.  

Hopefully I will provide you with some practical information presented in a no-nonsense form.

First and foremost, make sure all of your personal chores and plans are in order before you begin your assignment.  Once you start it is vital to focus all of your energy and time into your placement.  Secure your housing well in advance and establish a routine of daily tasks.  Plan to arrive at school early and plan to stay late.  Student teaching is absolutely relentless; you will be exhausted after your first day.  The mental and physical strain is unbelievable .  Make sure all of your details are taken care of in advance;  you don't want anything to interfere with your teaching.  Do create some time for yourself or you will self-destruct.  You need to keep your mind clear in order to make effective teacher decisions.  Plan to have some time each day for your self - it may only be a few minutes, but it is very important.  You may think you don't need it, but all veteran teachers will tell you differently.  

Secondly, be a sponge.  You are new to the profession and regardless of how well your university has prepared you, nothing measures up to being on your own in a classroom.  When the door shuts  for the first time you will know what I am talking about.  Glean as much from your mentor and other teachers as possible, and by all means, don't come across a s an expert.   "Learn from your observations and reflections;  don't be afraid to make mistakes.  As you progress and you become more effective, take risks and try different methodologies and teaching strategies."

You have not paid your dues and therefore you are really not an expert at anything.  Learn from your observations and reflections;  don't be afraid to make mistakes.  As you progress and you become more effective, take risks and try different methodologies and teaching strategies.  By all means keep in close contact with your mentor and always remember - no surprises.  Ask questions before you do something;  your mentor knows the ropes and will offer excellent advice.  Make it your responsibility to learn the routines and specifics of the district and building you are working in.  Don't rely on someone to tell you; find out on your own, take the initiative.  You can learn many things from both effective and ineffective teachers.  Unless asked, keep your opinions to yourself, being new and having all the energy of youth will be a threat to some, so tread lightly.  

If there is any down time in your room, ask your mentor for tasks to accomplish.  Help out anywhere you can.  Ask to take on something difficult and work with your mentor to accomplish it.  Save as many artifacts as possible and use them in your professional portfolio.  Creative lesson plans and examples of student work are excellent things to have.  Ask for feedback and listen and process.  Create an open dialog with your mentor;  remember that is the person who will be called first when a district wants to know about you. Your mentor will be able to talk about strengths and weaknesses, so what do you want to them to say about you?  

Finally, enter the internship with the idea there will be a teaching opening that you will be qualified for in the very building you are student teaching.  Create positive relationships with staff, parents, and students.  You do that by demonstrating professional behavior.  When your internship is completed you want everyone to say - "We would really like to have you become part of our team!"  Prove to people that you are the type of teacher that would be a perfect fit for their district.

School districts are looking for candidates who are 'low maintenance' - teachers who can come into their buildings and have an immediate impact.  Confidence, solid work ethic, and exemplary professional dispositions are words you want people to use to describe you.  Your internship is an excellent place to begin!

Preparing for Your Student-Teaching Experience 
(part 3)

Working closely with a mentor or collaborating teacher can be both rewarding and challenging.  The rewards include developing a positive relationship with a professional educator and gleaning tremendous amounts of insight and effective teaching tips and techniques.  The mentor has been working effectively for a considerable number of years and has perfected both the art and craft of teaching.  In the ideal situation the mentor guides and provides feedback while allowing the intern to develop style and work through different situations and challenges.  The intern has the opportunity to make mistakes and develop strategies for improvement all under the guidance of a thoughtful and caring mentor. 

Sometimes an intern is placed with a mentor who finds it very difficult to let go of his/her classroom.  This teacher remains in the room all day and really doesnít allow the intern the flexibility and creativity to develop and refine an individual style.  The intern loses the opportunity to be on his or her own, a very valuable experience.  Another challenging situation is the mentor who for some unknown reason decides to try to clone themselves.  This mentor actually creates a situation that is counter-productive to a positive student teaching experience.  This mentor really inhibits the growth and development of the intern through constant manipulating and overbearing direction.

There have been some mentors who view the interns almost as personal servants making them run errands and do menial tasks not really aligned with the internship.  This situation needs to be reported to the university supervisor as soon as possible. 

Equally ineffective is the mentor who views the internship simply as time off.  The intern does not receive the necessary feedback necessary to process the many situations they encounter.  Consequently the intern struggles and makes decisions that can actually create additional problems. "The interns must always realize that the internship is a tremendous amount of work that requires vast amounts of time and energy and they are guests in a classroom; however, they also have many responsibilities in the learning of the skill and craft of teaching."

How does an intern deal effectively with these challenges?  That is not an easy answer.  Ideally, interns are not placed in these situations; however, we all know ours is not a perfect world.  One suggestion would be to schedule a meeting as soon as possible with the mentor.  Be prepared with questions that might provide some insight and if there appears to be a problem, contact your university immediately, maybe a change could be arranged.  Sometimes true motives donít surface until well into the internship, that can create difficulty and put the intern in a tough spot. 

The interns must always realize that the internship is a tremendous amount of work that requires vast amounts of time and energy and they are guests in a classroom; however, they also have many responsibilities in the learning of the skill and craft of teaching.  In most cases, the intern will create a strong relationship with the mentor.  The personal skills learned and practiced during the student-teaching experience will be invaluable as the intern moves into his/her own classroom. 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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