Determining What Makes You Unique As a Teacher and How to Market It
With the economy the way it is, employers can have their pick of the litter. They may only receive a handful of applications or possibly one hundred, depending on the school district. For that reason, it is very important that you determine what makes you unique and showcase that uniqueness. Not only do you have to meet the minimum requirements mentioned on a job posting, you must also demonstrate what other special qualities or achievements you possess that you can bring to the table.
All classroom teachers must be able to develop and instruct lesson plans that adhere to curriculum and benchmarks. But how are your lesson plans different? Are they creative and hands-on? Do they relate to the real world and leave students wanting to learn more? If so, make sure this is mentioned in your resume and cover letter. What about behavior management? Do you implement innovative methods for keeping students well-behaved and focused? Do you go the extra mile to maintain communication with parents? Are there team-building techniques you apply to boost morale amongst fellow teachers?
The trick is to outline the typical tasks that teachers face on a daily basis. Besides each regular responsibility, write down what you think makes your method more effective or creative than what an average teacher might do. Next, analyze how these techniques impact the overall learning process. Turn these innovations into selling points and highlight them in your documents. If your methods can be assessed via a data-based method, bullet them as achievements under each appropriate job position listed on your resume. For example:
o Incorporated literature-based units and reader’s workshops to raise students’ reading levels by at least 1.5 grade levels.
o Introduced a reward program for class attendance and participation; thus achieving a 95% attendance rate year round.
o Utilized math manipulatives and real world connections to increase students’ math scores to a minimum grade of 85% on state testing.
In addition to time spent during regular classroom hours, mention if you participate in extra-curricular activities. School districts love to see that their teachers are flexible and willing to put in extra time to help establish a well-rounded and successful school community. Highlight your time spent on boards or committees, coaching sports, sponsoring clubs, or providing after-school tutoring. This information can be bulleted as well to make it stand out from your regular responsibilities.
All of these items must also be taken into consideration when formulating your cover letter. The cover letter is your chance to let your true personality and passion for the profession shine through. Explain the exceptional teaching techniques you employ and how they positively influence student learning. If you have attained accomplishments with specific numbers, similar to those listed above, bullet them in your cover letter. This will let the reader know that your unique methods do in fact work and will truly be an asset to a hiring school district.