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Teacher Candidates…Who Has Your Back?

Teacher candidates…who has your back?

Thirty six years ago, I was hired to teach third graders in my hometown where I had returned to live. A few short weeks after being offered a contract, an article came out in the local paper with the title: School Board Questions Principal’s Hiring Policy. I thought I was fired before I even got started. It scared me to death.  

The principal who hired me way back then, attended my retirement party a few days ago (thank you SO MUCH for coming 🙌). When I mentioned this memory to him, he smiled and asked if he had ever shared what he told the school board after they questioned him. I told him no, so he proceeded to tell me ‘the rest of the story.’

The school board members at that time wanted him to hire someone who did not live in the district because then the school could gain more tax revenue. He reminded those board members about their WHY for hiring him…to get the best teachers for the children of this district. He boldly instructed them to ask the parents of the district if they would like the best teacher for their children, OR, if they would prefer a mediocre teacher just so they could increase the tax revenue dollars. I guess that silenced the school board members immediately, and it was never discussed again.  

This principal had my back!

Being a novice teacher only in my second year, I sent an informational letter home to all parents that clearly stated my expectations and consequences for the students in my room that year. The last consequence and “worst case scenario” for challenging these expectations was “staying after school with the teacher for 20 minutes.” After receiving the letter, one parent went storming into the principal’s office strongly demanding that her daughter would NEVER stay after school. My principal’s response to this irate parent was astounding to me, “Then make sure your daughter follows all the expectations and she won’t have to.”

This principal had my back…again!

So, I ask you again teacher candidates…who has your back?

A thought to ponder! When you have finished your teacher prep program here at SMSU and you begin the excitement of searching for that first teaching job, remember this…not only are they interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them.

Usually at the end of interviews, the final question is “Do you have any questions for us?” Ask specific, clarifying questions during the interview. The difficulty with this is you don’t know what you don’t know. So what do you ask? Use your resources. Research the district. Reach out to others. Google great questions to ask during an interview.  What are some issues/ideas that are important to you? Do you want the district to have a mentoring program? Do you want more specifics on what your role will be in the grade level you are interviewing for? Are there extra duties you will be responsible for? How will you be supported? Just ask! Be different, be brave, be you, and just ask!

Just like when you were searching for a university to attend and you ‘just knew’ SMSU was the right fit for you (you ‘just knew’ SMSU was where you belonged 😉), it will be the same with your job search. You will ‘just know’ if the district is the right fit for you. Does it feel like this district will have your back? Do you just know it is where you belong? Pay close attention to your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, you have my permission to turn it down.

Teacher candidates…I know all of you are going to be phenomenal teachers because I’ve seen you grow into dynamic educators this past year. I know you desire to be the best of the best for the kids out there in classrooms. You are EDU rock stars and will change this world one school district, one classroom, one student at a time! Now…get out there and be champions for children! Have their backs, and always know I have yours! (And, principals…please have your teachers’ backs!).

Love you all!!! 🥰

Stay calm & Just Ask!
Profs Dr. Wendy Dr. V.