Term 1 can be really frustrating when you’re a job seeking teacher. You want to be in the classroom or in the centre, teaching, but you haven’t yet been given the opportunity. The good news is that even if you’re not currently employed at a school or centre, there are lots of ways you can keep busy and improve your chances of winning your first teaching role. Here are nine ideas:
1. Get prepared to get relieving
Relieving is a great career option for beginning teachers. You can learn a lot about yourself as a teacher while gaining experience in a range of different teaching environments.
Having said that, there's typically not a huge amount of relief work in Term 1. Teachers are generally feeling rested and well after the holidays, and most don't want to take time off for professional development while they are still setting up their class.
But what you can do at the beginning of the year is to prepare for relief teaching in Terms 2 and 3.
Firstly, put together your relief teaching CV - here’s a guide to creating one. Not everyone thinks it’s necessary to put together a relief CV. The other option is to hand in your regular CV instead - try asking relief organisers what they prefer when you go to visit them. If you decide not to do a relief CV, make sure your normal CV has your teacher registration details, qualifications, contact details and available days on the front page.
Another thing you can do, if you're a primary or secondary teacher, is put together what the website Relief Teaching in NZ calls a 'Go Bag’. This is a bag that you can take to each day of relieving and has everything you need in it. Check out the Go Bag link and start collecting resources, and put together some planning, for when you start relieving.
For more ideas on preparing to be a relief teacher, sign up for our webinar “Relief Teaching for Beginning Teachers” on Monday 23rd February here.
2. Investigate your relieving options
There’s more than one way to get into relief teaching. If you try out lot of different options, you might have a higher chance of winning a lot of work.
- Get on the relief lists for schools and/or centres in your area. Do this by making an appointment with the relief organiser and taking your relief CV.
- Find your local relief teaching pool. These are often run by a teacher in the area, and are more common in small towns. Ask around schools or teacher contacts you have in your area to see you runs your local pool.
- Get in touch with a relief teaching agency. Agencies have the advantage of having existing relationships with schools and centres, so it takes away the need for you to go out and network in order to get on relieving lists. All you have to do is show up and teach.
- If you’re an ECE or primary teacher, you can sign up with your local kindergarten association or a large ECE provider with multiple centres.
3. Build relationships with schools and centres
In the current competitive education market, BTs who have strong existing relationships with particular schools or centres have a real advantage over other candidates.
A good way to get involved is to make connections with schools or centres before the rush of the hiring season in October/November. Start by getting in touch at the places you did your teaching practicums, and letting them know you’re looking for work. If you’re able, make the visit in person so that you can connect with your associate teacher.
In this excellent blog post, Stephanie from the blog ‘Training the Teacher’, suggests this approach for anywhere you want to teach:
4. Volunteer at a school or centres
A great way to build relationships with schools is to volunteer. If you can go into a school or centre, say "I'm a provisionally registered teacher" and offer some of your time to help out, chances are they'll say yes. This may turn into relieving work or even a long term role. The key thing is that you are building networks and your classroom experience. However, ensure you’re being realistic about how much time you’re able to give.
Here a story about how a teacher used her volunteering experience to her advantage in her job application:
5. Get involved with the NZ education community
Make 2015 the year you try and get involved as possible with the education community. Whether this is setting up a Twitter account, joining a beginning teacher group or attending education events, connecting with other teachers is one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of winning a role. Getting involved with these groups is also an excellent form of professional learning and development. Check out our advice on how to get involved here.
6. Keep up with what’s happening in education
If you’re not currently employed at a school or centre, it’s important that you find other ways of keeping up with what’s happening in your sector, whether these are policy changes or notices of professional learning and development.
Read the Education Gazette - keep an especially close eye on the notices. The Education Review, Education Aotearoa, and Eduvac are other great free publications you can read online to keep abreast of what’s happening.
7. Create your own blog or website
Having skills in e-learning is attractive to many schools and centres. Try building your skills in this area by designing your own blog or website - Wix, Weebly, WordPress or Squarespace are all good platforms you can use. Having a blog helps you build your technology, writing and reflection skills. Some teachers have even used these blogs as evidence for the registered teacher criteria!
8. Think seriously about widening your search to include other locations
When you're applying for jobs at the end of the year, it's incredibly frantic and it can be much easier on focusing for applying for jobs in one location. Now that the job rush is over, it's an excellent time to reflect on whether widening your job search to other locations in New Zealand could expand your career options.
Once, one of Education Personnel's consultants put forward a new graduate teacher for a role at a primary school in a small town. He was up against six other teachers (as opposed to 80 like some of the roles in his hometown). He was offered the role, but wasn't sure whether to take it. His partner wasn't keen to move from their hometown, where they both had jobs and their family and friends.
In the end, the teacher and his partner weighed up the pros and cons of taking the role, and decided it was the right choice for his career. They moved to the new town, and now he has been teaching at the school for nearly two years and is close to having his full teacher registration.
If you don't have anything tying you to a particular location, widening your job search to other locations can be an excellent way of improving your career choices.
9. Refine your job find strategy