What are some common reasons for choosing a teaching position?
- Being close to family
- Following a significant other
- Having a chance to move to the big city
- Going where a job is available
These are all reasons we have heard teachers and education students give for choosing a particular teaching position. Together, my colleagues and I co-authored the article “Strategies for Finding (and Keeping) a Good-Fit Teaching Position” that was published in the October issue of the Kappa Delta Pi Record. Kathryn A. Ohle (Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Grand Valley State University), Amy Mullins (Associate Professor of Education at Bluffton University), Hannah Lowry (second-grade teacher at Plano (Texas) Independent School District), Denae Shake (third-grade teacher at Coppell (Texas) Independent School District), and I based the article on data from a research study we conducted looking at how recent graduates from our teacher education programs make decisions regarding literacy assessment and instruction.
What we learned was that the context in which our graduates taught largely influenced the type of instruction they implemented. Those who taught at schools whose practices were congruent with their teaching philosophies found their work fulfilling and successfully implemented practices they deemed most beneficial to their students. Those who lacked a good fit, however, struggled and were in constant tension with their administrators and colleagues.
As we examined the literature on how teachers often choose jobs, we found that our students were not unique. Although teachers identify characteristics such as a supportive principal, mentoring opportunities, and available materials as important factors when finding a job, most end up choosing schools based on easily identifiable information such as location, demographics, and test scores. Consequently, they end up teaching at schools that they know little about, that are close to home, and with similar ethnic and sociodemographic characteristics to their own, but with few of the characteristics they say are most important to them.
Most articles about finding a teaching position focus on tips for interviewing and writing résumés and cover letters but do not provide suggestions for strategically obtaining the information needed to successfully determine the quality of the fit. Recognizing the importance of finding (and keeping) a good-fit teaching position, we developed the following six strategies based both on our research and our experiences applying for teaching positions to help teachers identify the right job for them.
Strategy 1: Decide what you believe is effective instruction.
Strategy 2: Find a school whose practices align with your philosophy.
Strategy 3: Interview the interviewer.
Strategy 4: Get to know potential colleagues.
Strategy 5: Make it a good-fit job.
Strategy 6: Leave if necessary. These six strategies are our attempt to provide useful tools for teachers interested in finding a good-fit teaching position. Each of these strategies encourages information-rich selection processes, something that can be beneficial to the applicants and the students they teach, as well as the school personnel who benefit from longer teacher retention rates when a good match is made. We believe that thinking intentionally about finding a good-fit teaching position will help increase the likelihood that teachers will find rewarding jobs they can thrive in for years to come.
Today’s blogger is Andrew P. Huddleston, Associate Professor of teacher education at Abilene Christian University, and co-author of the article “Strategies for Finding (and Keeping) a Good-Fit Teaching Position,” which appears in the October 2021 issue of the Kappa Delta Pi Record. Get free access to the article through the month of December.