Jane Dolan, Communication Arts/Literature MEd/ILP, shares her success

Name: Jane Dolan
Licensure program: Masters of Communication Arts and Literature, 5-12; Completed ILP August 2010
Employer: Northfield Public Schools
Position: Long term sub -1 semester at Northfield High School (10th and 12th grade); 1 semester at Northfield Middle School (7th grade).
Job Search
How did you learn about your current position?
I found it posted on the Ed post website….or rather, my mom found it!
Describe the application and interview process.
As a new teacher with very little teaching experience, you have to keep applying, applying, and applying for jobs! Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged. You have to know that your U of MN degree speaks volumes and that the right job will come along.
How did you make yourself stand out during the job search?
As dorky as it sounds, I practiced my interview responses in front of a mirror. I made a list of potential questions and committed myself to practicing. I also tried to appear as professional as possible–a nice outfit, a polished credentials folder, a strong handshake and a smile on my face. Beyond that, I was myself. I like to laugh and I told related stories from my student teaching during the interview. For this particular interview, my personality just meshed well with the hiring committee. I knew when I walked away from the interview that if I were offered the job, it would be a good fit. I felt comfortable from start to finish.
Looking back, what did you find to be the most helpful during job search process?
Be open to all possibilities. You never know what type of school will ultimately be a good fit for you. If you had asked me a year ago if I could see myself long-term subbing in Northfield, I probably would have said “no.” However, my response probably would have been rooted simply in that fact I had never really been to Northfield prior to my interview. As I drove through Northfield headed to my interview, I thought “I can see myself here.”
What advice would you like to share with others about your experience finding a teaching position?
Be professional, be prepared, be yourself, and choose the job that feels like the best fit, even if you have to wait a little bit to find it!
Teaching Position
Describe your current position.
The first semester I taught at Northfield High School, I had two sections of 10th grade American Literature, two sections of 10th grade Advanced American Literature, and one section of College Prep Writing. Second semester I taught 7th grade, all day! The fact that I was able to long-term sub in two different buildings in the district was actually a blessing in disguise. I had the opportunity to experience both high school and middle school. I also had the opportunity to coach middle school track! And the added surprise? I was just offered a permanent job for next year–I will be teaching 8th grade English!
What do you most enjoy about your position?
I got into teaching because of my content area, but more importantly because I want to see young people succeed. There can be days in teaching when you think to yourself “Why do I do this job?” But, the vast majority of days are great. I feel like I am positively affecting students, they are equally impacting me, and I know I am helping these students develop both the academic and social skills they will use their whole live.
What are some of its challenges?
Teaching, like any job, brings its own challenges. For me, the greatest challenge as a new teacher has been finding a balance. As a new teacher, there is a never-ending need to lesson plan. To be honest, it’s a lot–planning, writing assessments, revising your plans, making sure you have an end goal, etc. Furthermore, there seems to be an endless amount of papers to grade, especially as an English teacher! Therefore I have made a rule: Saturdays are my no school, no grading, no lesson planning days! This rule helps me feel like I can rest and do fun activities all day! Plus, I go into the next week far more mentally and physically rested than I would if I worked all weekend.
Please share your advice to students entering the teaching profession.
Obviously, as a teacher it’s important to have significant quality time in class for teaching content area. However, I would argue there needs to be a certain amount of fun in class too, for the sake of the students and for your sake as well! It’s amazing how much more the students learn when they feel invested in you as a teacher and when they feel like they can approach you. At first I thought I shouldn’t show the students my silly side, but it’s such a part of who I am. My students now know about my weird obsession with llamas, my Jonas brothers calendar, and my awesome (or perhaps, they would argue, not-so-awesome) dance moves. I think it’s these quirky things about me that have made me seem human and approachable to my students.