How to Land Your First Teaching Job — Tips From Teachers Who Got the Gig

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female teacher of color working with students in a classroom
Jeanne Sager

Written by Jeanne Sager

When you’re fresh out of college and just got your teaching certification, plugging in “schools hiring near me” and looking at that long list of open teaching jobs can get very overwhelming very fast. Hold on a second, and take a breath! Feeling better? Getting your first teaching job can seem like it’s about as easy as climbing Mt. Everest and about as likely to happen too. Good thing we’ve got tips on how to find your first teaching job.

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How to Find Your First Teaching Job

United States school districts need hundreds of thousands of teachers every year — because of teacher retirement, teachers changing fields, or just growing class sizes. Your job is out there, and we’ve talked to some folks who know exactly what you need to do to land your first teaching job — other teachers!

Talk to Your Professors

Before Garrett Gerard was helping create Teach Starter’s helpful resources in our Austin, Texas offices, he was a fifth-grade teacher in a Texas classroom. How did he get the job? He talked to his college professor!

“I found my first teaching position through a professor at my college. She had a principal friend reach out to her to see if she knew of any long-term subs,” Gerard says. “I was recommended, then hired as a full-time fifth-grade teacher the next year.”

His advice comes down to four words: “Talk to your professors!”

Live the Sub Life

It’s not a full-time teaching job, but spending some time as a substitute teacher can help you get familiar with a school district — and even more importantly, let them get familiar with you — while you make some money to pay the bills.

“Subbing is a great way to get your name well-known in the district,” advises Southern California teacher Angella Chung. “Other teachers and principals can vouch for you and help you land a position!”

Volunteer

It won’t bring in cash like substitute teaching, but volunteering in classrooms has its benefits too, says Teach Starter’s Lauren Piper, a teacher who’s spent the last eight years in the classroom.  Her advice is to “get in as many schools and classrooms as you can.” You never know who you will meet, and who will want to recommend you for a job.

Create a Mission Statement

You may not know your future yet, but take it from Maddie Schmalz, an ELA teacher who’s spent 10 years in the classroom — now’s the time to create a mission statement for your classroom.  “Knowing what your goals are as a teacher makes a big impression on potential employers,” the Teach Starter resource creator advises.

Do Your Research

Teachers tend to be pretty curious people who want to learn everything. So put that curiosity to work to find that teaching job!

“Know everything you can find about the school, curriculum, the teachers, and the district so that you can ask really great questions to get a better understanding of the teaching and learning environment,” Teach Starter resource creator and special education teacher Talia Buonopane advises. Bonus? It will show your interview panel “that you care about the position and want to do the best you can in it,” Buonopane says.

Network, Network, Network

For Melissa, an ELA teacher who creates many of Teach Starter’s teacher-created resources, nothing beats networking “like your life depends on it” when it comes to finding a teaching job. That means turning to all the administrators and educators you might know, whether it’s the folks from your student teaching days or even your own days as an elementary or high school student (maybe your old district is hiring?). No luck there? Joining Teach for America or City Year can give you a year under your belt at a school where you can meet those kinds of folks, she says.

Update Your Resume

Did you know one in five recruiters will reject a candidate before they have even finished reading their resume? We talked to the experts and put together the right format for a teaching resume, plus what new teachers often forget to include!

Dream Big

This bit of advice comes from both Piper and Schmalz — sometimes your dream district or even the grade you enjoy teaching the most will end up being the one you least expect. So apply widely, these pros say. “Be open to going somewhere new,” Piper notes.

Think of it as your next big adventure!

Are you a first-year teacher? Did you know student- and first-year teachers get 50% off their Teach Starter subscription? Sign up now and save!

Banner image via shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Make your classroom buzz! Subscribe to Teach Starter and access thousands of curriculum-aligned resources and digital learning tools. Get Started


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