CV writing tips for Beginning Teachers
A few months ago I was wondering what on earth I was going to put in my first teaching CV, over the last few weeks I’ve had a steady stream of incoming visitors searching for info so thought I would put out there my advice.I don’t consider myself an expert in any way on CV writing and actually think it was my networking both offline and online which helped me secure interviews rather than my paperwork.
But what it is worth here are some for Beginning Teachers wondering what to put in their CV.
Please remember that some of the gimmicky advice in this post will be dated by next year and passée by 2013.
Before you write, research and think
I don’t think this advice will ever go out of date. Know the school you are applying for and also think long and hard about what makes you an awesome Beginning Teacher to have on staff. Because being a qualified teacher isn’t enough, you want have something special to offer a school.You need to work out what is it that is unique and awesome about you which would make a hiring panel go ‘wow this person would be ace!’ In my case I highlighted the Korean-speaking e-learning angle as being something unique but you’ll have your specialities too.
Personalized to the school
Each CV I wrote was specifically tailored to the school I was applying for. In fact I mentioned it on the front cover ‘Stephanie’s application for a position at ABC school’ to let anyone glancing at my CV know that I had taken the time to research and think about this school.
Relevant details only
Your CV is a way for a prospective employer to get a picture of you as a teacher and also as a person. Whether you are a career changer looking to keep your CV length down or someone looking for their very first job, make sure you include only the details that are relevant and up to date. Only include details from many years ago if it is relevant to the position you are applying for now. You’ve only got 3-4 pages to sell you an amazing fit for the school so use it wisely.
You want a section somewhere (preferably early on) telling the hiring panel where you completed your teaching placements, the length of the teaching placement, when you completed it, who your Associate Teacher was, what year level, and something you achieved while on your placement.
Photo of yourself
Some people are still wondering if you need a photo of yourself and the answer is most defintely yes! You want a photo of yourself because if you have been networking, then people might not remember your name but they are more will likely remember your face. Some people even joked I should include my avatar as I have such a strong digital presence. Make sure said photo has you looking professional rather than some sort of goofy tourist picture (easier said than done for some of us ;-)).
Ditch your sappy statement on teaching philosophy
I know your uni says that you need a statement on teaching philosophy (the school I won at position asked for it too). The problem with these philosophies is that every student teacher will say that they believe in child-centred learning and that every child is a special snowflake. The reason Beginning Teachers all end up sounding the same is because we don’t have enough experience to articulate our teaching philosophy without resorting to clichés. So my advice would be to ditch that section entirely especially when there are alternatives to convey what you are about as a teacher.
Quotes from thinkers who inspire you
This a good alternative to the teaching philosophy so long as you’re using good thinkers. But since you’ve been at university studying to be a teacher you should be able to identify good thinkers that inspire your teaching. So why not quote them? Even better have a nose around school websites, principal blogs etc. and find out who is inspiring them. It goes without saying that you should actually read the book you are quoting as someone might decide to ask you questions about your quotes (if I was on a hiring panel, that’s what I would be doing).
I picked this tip from @taratj, run your cover letter/application through a wordle as alternative to the teaching philosophy section. Your big words should convey what you feel is important as a teacher and ideally match the buzz words associated with the school. If not, then you need to rewrite your cover letter. Pro tip: make sure your wordle matches the school colours, you want to be showing how you blend into the culture of school. Also beware this trick will get old really, really fast.
Photos of kids doing stuff you are passionate about
That old writing adage, show don’t tell, is an important one. One of the student teachers in my course posted to Facebook a screen shot of kids performing in a play about the Rugby World Cup that was published in a local newspaper. The story featured shots he had taken (said Beginning Teacher is a professional photographer). My immediate reaction was put that in your CV! That capture told me about him as a teacher than any vanilla statement about teaching philosophy could. Wouldn’t it be cool for a school to have an amazingly talented photographer on staff as a Beginning Teacher in 2012?
Positive quotes from previous employers/teacher appraisals
If someone, especially an Associate Teacher, has written something awesome about you then quote that in your CV. Include the full report in your supporting documentation.
Get your paperwork organized
Having to download multiple files is annoying. It is better to save your application as one PDF file including your cover page, application form, CV and any supporting paperwork like written references transcripts, etc. you might include (formal appraisals from Associate Teachers are a good idea for Beginning Teachers). Make sure each page of your application is numbered, has your name on it and the position you are applying for.
A digital presence
This is probably advice for student teachers working the ICT angle and there will be schools that you are wasting time/space by including this information. However I’m of the belief that the traditional paper CVs are on the way out and that eventually your digital presence is going to get you a job (this has happened to me twice).
The cover page of my CV had a QR code which linked directly to a MyPortfolio page (if you don’t have a smartphone download a QR reader for your webcam here). I also mentioned the my porfolio page in my cover letter and in the contact details section of my CV because I wanted people to visit. On the MyPortfolio page I had videos of student learning, my blog’s RSS feed, appraisals from associate teachers and visiting lecturers, my graduating teachers standard e-portfolio, unit plans I was proud of etc. The bonus is it can be readily adapted for every school.
The other stuff…
Make sure your CV is well-laid out, not too wordy and can easily be photocopied. Also get a get a friend to take a look at your CV and check for any spelling/grammar mistakes that you and your spellcheck might of missed.