Name: Arika “Simone” Traiforos
Licensure program: Elementary Education; Completed ILP June 2011
Employer: Minneapolis Public Schools (Emerson Immersion)
Position: 3rd grade teacher
How did you learn about your current position?
I attended the Minnesota Education Job Fair in April of 2011. I gave my resume to about fifteen schools/districts, including Minneapolis Public Schools. At the MPS table, there was a sign that listed the high need areas in the district. One of these areas was Spanish. In addition to having a Spanish minor, I speak Spanish at home. When I told the district representatives that I am bilingual, they signed me up for an interview at the job fair.
Describe the application and interview process.
I was not sure what to expect of a job fair interview. There were two people interviewing me; a principal of an immersion school and an administrator. The interview was conducted in English and Spanish. They asked questions about lesson planning, technology in the classroom, how to engage all students in learning and many other questions. The interview lasted 20 minutes then I took the ACTFL, an oral Spanish language assessment. I actually did not feel incredibly confident about this interview. There were hundreds of people at the job fair and I thought, “I haven’t even finished student teaching yet!”
One month later, I received a call (while I was student teaching, actually) offering me a position with Minneapolis Public Schools as a bilingual/bicultural teacher. I signed the contract within a week. It is interesting that I was hired in the district but I still had to interview with schools. I went to about five interviews in the district and ended up at Emerson.
How did you make yourself stand out during the job search?
I mentioned my love of the Spanish language and spoke about travelling to Mexico, minoring in Spanish at the University and speaking Spanish at home with my fiance from El Salvador.
Looking back, what did you find to be the most helpful during job search process?
Attending the Job Fair. Had I not gone to the job fair and shook hands with so many people, I likely would not have ended up with a job with Minneapolis Public Schools. They hired me based on my interview and resume. Had I just send in an application online, I probably would not have been hired. Also, I interviewed with a school in the Richfield district after meeting the principal at the job fair. He called me to set up an interview two weeks after I gave him my resume at the fair. The job fair is a great place to get your name out there, hand out your resumes and practice your spiel (“Hello. Firm handshake. My name is ______. I attended the University of Minnesota and graduated in ____ with a degree in ______. [INSERT WHAT MAKES YOU STAND OUT]. Big smile.”)
Did you utilize career services? If so, what was your experience like?
I utilized the website and the links about writing resumes and preparing for an interview.
What advice would you like to share with others about your experience finding a teaching position?
Don’t give up! I attended many interviews and believed that no one would want me. Be brave, exude confidence (but not cockiness) and believe in yourself. Sure, it sounds cliche but it is good advice in any situation.
Also, if [during an interview] you are not sure of an acronym (there are so many in this profession), tell them. During one of my interviews, they asked how I would incorporate something I had never heard of into the reading curriculum. I started blankly at them for a second then confessed with a smile that I was not sure what that meant but I was willing to learn.
Describe your current position.
Starting at the end of August, I will be a 3rd grade teacher at Emerson Immersion. I will teach in Spanish for a portion of the day and in English for the other part of the day.
What do you most enjoy about your position?
I have seen many children that come from Spanish speaking homes “lose” their language as they grow up. I am so proud to be teaching in an immersion school because I will encourage students to maintain their home language and I will hopefully be able to instill a sense of pride in being bilingual.
What are some of its challenges?
I have not started yet but I anticipate a challenge in making my room look welcoming because I am a new teacher with limited resources. I have been stocking up on all the free teacher stuff I can get my hands on.
Please share your advice to students entering the teaching profession.
Soak up knowledge, hang on to your text books, keep taking language classes if they interest you and ask others for help if you need it.