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Les Potter is currently the Assistant to the Superintendent (Educational Services Overseas Limited) in Egypt. He received his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Les has over 45 years...
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Tips for the Prospective Teacher

In the US we are going to need more and more teachers as the supply is running out. Statistically about half of the teachers leave the field after only five years. Unfortunately, states are encouraging more experienced teachers to leave in order to save money. I was a chair of an education department at a college for six years and we saw at our school and many other education departments that we are not getting the number of students we once did.

In Florida, like numerous states, there is a teacher shortage. This is true in the number of teachers needed but also in the subject matter. We are desperate for math, science, STEM, special education, etc. teachers.

For the prospective teacher, Ask yourself: What can I teach and what do I want to teach? This is a very important question because if you "settle" for a position that you really don't want you may become very unhappy and you may quit or be terminated.

What grade levels or subject areas do I feel comfortable working with? What are my career goals? Think this through very carefully as many new teachers leave or become disenchanted with their career choice. If you start as a teacher you may end your career after thirty years as a teacher. There is not much opportunity for growth in the K-12 school unless you go into administration.

Where do I want to live and work? The good news is that there are teachers everywhere. The bad news can be pay, living and working conditions as well as opportunities can vary greatly. Investigate the school and community before accepting a teaching position.

Will I be happy at this job? Only you will know! Consider the school, teaching assignment, money and opportunities before you sign on the dotted line.

Other factors to consider:  

Are you career or place bound---do you have to work in this district or would i be happier somewhere else? Do I want to live and work in a city, suburbs, rural area or in the north, south, middle, east or west part of the country?

Are there any opportunities for growth---professionally and personally? What job satisfaction is there for me in teaching?

What can you do now?

Create an effective resume and portfolio. Check for typos and grammatical mistakes ---this will be the first opportunity for administrators to "see you".

Secure references and letters of support, again check for typos and grammatical mistakes . Make sure your references will be a reference for you prior to you using their name on the resume. Write a letter of interest and cover letter. I always suggest that you have someone read all of your letters to make sure it "reads OK".

If school districts still use paper applications in areas where you would like to work, pick one up or check on-line through their personnel office.

Call and visit school districts and go to job fairs, in person or on-line.

Learn as much as you can about the school, district and community before you apply. Keep current on the trends, technology and issues in education.

Practice good interviewing skills and remember you must sell yourself to get that teaching position and the hardest job to get in education is the first one!

Many American teachers are looking at opportunities overseas. As a former director of an international school in Egypt, I believe that this is a good experience for teachers who want to see the world and enjoy very good benefits. If you do choose this route, do your homework. As in the states, there are good schools and not so good schools in foreign countries.

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Dr. Les Potter
Assistant to the Superintendent
American International School West
[email protected]