The market for teachers in Ontario, particularly in Waterloo Region, is very saturated. Job hunting is very competitive. It’s important to market yourself well to find your teaching job. The following are a few ways that you can gain a competitive edge in local hiring.
Volunteering and networking to increase your visibility
Volunteering is important. The old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” aptly describes the education sector as principals want to hire people that they know and trust. Your ability to present yourself as a confident, effective, engaging pedagogue will be essential to your success in education. Volunteering and developing a positive reputation is critical to your pathway. After volunteering for a time you’ll be in a much better place to have an information interview with a principal to discuss your future and present her/him with your marketing materials. In a highly competitive market like this, the likelihood of simply sending in a resume and being hired is extremely low. Developing rapport and trust with a principal will go a long way towards you finding a job. Do not skip this step.
Visit a school in your neighbourhood to inquire about volunteering.
Many teachers, particularly teachers on the Occasional Teacher List (supply list) create business cards – with each school they visit, they give these cards to the principals who then use them to contact these teachers for occasional teaching duties. Some principals will have a stack of a few cards which they commonly turn to. This way, you’ll 1. Get called in more often and 2. Spend more time in one specific school, developing your reputation and relationships which will hopefully turn into a job. Check with your school board about how supply days are assigned. Remember that your positive classroom performance will be your best business card.
Portfolios have become a standard thing to bring to an interview. They should be graphic and attractive, in a protective case/binder. They should include a resume, references, your philosophy of education, photos of your teaching experience, lesson plans, and any other awards or certifications you may have. Special conferences you have helped to organize; sports teams; theatre or music production – all are useful in your portfolio. Be sure to check with Human Resources before the interview to ensure that portfolios will be permitted in the interview.
Some teachers choose to create an electronic resume/portfolio which they put on CD and distribute to principals that they meet. This not only markets yourself in the same way that portfolios do, they also display to principals that you are tech-savvy, something which is becoming increasingly important. In particular, you should display that you are capable of using technology effectively in the classroom – computers, electronic whiteboards, projectors, etc.
Why on earth would a teacher need a website? It’s very common in Ontario (teachers looking for work in particular). The website could be an example of how you’d use technology to communicate with your students, develop their IT abilities, and could also be a marketing tool – many teachers create an “online portfolio” with their resume, pictures of them teaching and examples of lessons they’ve created.
Note: Social networking can be an excellent tool and your worst enemy. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace leave an online legacy for all to see. Ensure that your online reputation does nothing to affect your chances at employment; the respect you’ve earned of administrators, teachers and students
Since the market is so competitive, professional development is very important. It’s very common for teachers to take AQ, ABQ and Masters courses in the summers and also during the school year.
ABQ stands for Additional Basic Qualification and this expands the grade range that you can teach. There are four ranges: Primary, Junior, Intermediate and Senior. Taking ABQs opens up the number of positions you can apply for and makes you more flexible to prospective principals.
AQ stands for Additional Qualification. These courses expand your knowledge base. Some are one session and some have 3 parts which lead to specialization. As an example, Special Education is a very important AQ to have as it is a subject area with identified need. After taking Special Education AQ’s you will be prepared to become Special Education Resource teacher and even teach in a segregated classroom.
Many faculties of education offer Masters in Education. You can find details on the websites of each faculty.