Name: Kate Meier
Licensure program: Art Education; Completed June 2011
Position: Art Teacher
Employer: Los Lunas High School, Los Lunas, NM
How did you learn about your current position?
I learned about my job through an exhaustive internet search of school district web sites.
Describe the application and interview process.
I wrote dozens of cover letters, resumes, and applied online. I had to be persistent. I made follow up phone calls after I sent electronic copies of my resume and cover letters to principals. The key is to get noticed. When you send your information to Human Resources, you get lost in the mix. A follow up phone call is a way for the principal or assistant principal to start to get to know you better. I had a lot of success with this, and had a series of phone interviews because I was living in Wisconsin at the time. I decided, however, that for the jobs I really wanted I would have to be there in person to have a chance. I flew to Albuquerque, NM and had two live interviews, one of which was in Los Lunas. Considering how short my job search was (about 2 months while I was finishing school; very early in the hiring season), I was very fortunate to have had so many interviews.
How did you make yourself stand out during the job search?
In the Southwest, many teacher candidates do not have an M. Ed and a B.A. in their field. I think I stood out because of my educational background, as well as my online portfolio, where I posted photos of myself in the classroom, my students’ work, and kept a sort of virtual resume.
What advice would you like to share with others about your experience finding a teaching position?
I would recommend looking at a move if jobs in the area you are searching aren’t plentiful. It can be short-term, just enough to get you the experience. I would also recommend applying for at least one job a day, and keeping track of each job you apply for in a spreadsheet, so that you can follow up with a phone call within 5-7 business days. If you call and get an answering machine, call back again. Talk to someone live. Be persistent, and be careful. Making a simple grammatical or spelling error on a resume or cover letter can take you out of the picture before administration even considers your experience. Rather than coming in for an interview with a bulky portfolio, bring your laptop with your online portfolio ready to go. I also found that the Job Search Handbook we received at the Professional Practice Seminar was imperative to my preparing for interviews. I looked at all of the sample questions and prepared written and oral answers for each of them.
Describe your current position.
I am the sole art teacher at a high school with a population of 1,400 kids in a town of 24,000. There are two high schools in our district. I teach students in grades 9-12. I have one advanced class and four beginning art classes. In my beginning art classes most of the students are in 9th and 10th grade. My curriculum is based on three major art practices, drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well as an emphasis on art history, aesthetics, and art criticism. My students are of predominantly Hispanic and Native American descent.
What do you most enjoy about your position?
I enjoy the individual relationships I build with students as I watch their artistic talents mature.
What are some of its challenges?
Classroom management can be a challenge in classrooms with 35+ students who are mostly freshman and sophomores. It is important to establish yourself as a teacher who is firm but fair. I also recommend making a seating chart after you get to know the students to avoid major classroom disruptions.
Please share your advice to students entering the teaching profession.
After a year and a half of training and experience, I am still new to the teaching profession. I am always learning more about how I can become a better, more effective teacher. It is important to think of yourself first as a student and second as a teacher. Success came to me through hard work, persistence, and being in the right place at the right time. It is important to be open to those opportunities if they present themselves.