New Teachers

Getting Hired and Surviving Year One

Hello Fellow Teachers! In the next few months I will be finishing my master's degree in Science Education and obtaining my initial 7-12 NY certifications in Biology, Chemistry, and General Science. I am so excited and am now in the process of interviewing and searching for full time teaching positions. As an up and coming science teacher I was wondering if I could get some input on the following: Before I commit to and accept a teaching position, what are the most crucial pieces of information that I should be knowledgeable of and considering (contractual, environmental, etc)? What are the most common determining factors in accepting an offer? Secondly, for any seasoned teacher or even for those who are currently in their first year:      What are some tips you wish you knew ahead of time?      What have been the most useful resources for lesson planning and differentiation?  If anyone could share some words of wisdom that would be great! Thanks!

Kristy Zukswert
Kristy Zukswert
80 Activity Points

I wish I knew when I first started what types of support were available to brand new teachers. Now, they assign mentor teachers who are invaluable! Ask if you are required to do any extras outside of the school day. I mean things like sponsoring a club. What type of discipline is in place school wide? Where I teach, at the beginning of each year, there is a binder each teacher receives that outlines duty, lunch schedules, dress codes, job descriptions, etc. Do you have to keep a binder with evidence of meeting job requirements like being a presenter, professional development, conferences, etc? How often are you evaluated and what type of evaluations should you expect? What are the non-negotiables that you must have in each lesson plan? Do you have to have posters in your classroom outlining expectations and consequences? Can you ask your administrator to provide you with professional development that you feel would be beneficial for you? Do you have a fund that can be used to purchase lab equipment?

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
85619 Activity Points

I once sat in on an interview where we asked the applicant what he knew about our community. He replied "not much." The interview went downhill from there, and needless to say, he was not called back. So, if you're not familiar with the community or school, do some exploring before the interview. Look for nearby science-related resources (parks, museums, nature centers, etc.) and nearby colleges/universities. Learn a little about the history of the community and what it's famous for. Visit the school's website to learn about the school culture, facilities, extracurricular activities. Look over the student and faculty handbooks if they are available online.
The committee may ask if you have any questions. In addition to finding out about schedules, preparations, etc., you could also ask


  • ·      What is the school's philosophy toward science instruction?

  • ·      What mentoring and professional development activities are available?

  • ·      What kind of lab resources and technology are available?

  • ·      What is the role of extracurricular activities in the school?

  • ·      How are teachers encouraged to  use community resources (that you identified before the interview)?


And it doesn't hurt to discretely wear the school colors to the interview. I once did a workshop at a high school where they still remember that I wore a purple blazer!

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
7765 Activity Points

Thank you for your question, Kristy! I too, will be graduating in the next few months with a degree in Elementary and Middle Level Education. After student teaching, I hope to obtain a position right away, but that doesn't always happen. When thinking about the interview process and the other steps it takes to receive a teaching position, it causes lots of anxiety, yet excitement. Asking experienced teachers what we need to know to go into that process was a wonderful idea! Thanks for posting!

Mackenzie Haight
Mackenzie Haight
4227 Activity Points

My apologies for not responding to this sooner! I have not been on NSTA in a few weeks. Thank you so much for your suggestions! I agree with you about needing support and wanting to know just how much support will be offered. It is one of the things I am most concerned about as a new teacher. Additionally, knowing other expectations about mandatory duties, lesson requirements, etc. will also be important. Thank you so much Pamela for your insights. I really appreciate it!

Kristy Zukswert
Kristy Zukswert
80 Activity Points

I will go with the same advice that I gave to my classmates at GW University 25 years ago. You want to apply to a lot of positions. After you get offers you can decide how to pick and choose between positions. A job is better than no job... usually. So, with teaching there are some things that you might think about before you even apply for a position. Do a little research. All districts (or most) have their pay scales posted on their websites. Those may or may not correlate to the actual pay because some school districts (like Arlington County, VA where I work) sometimes skip steps or freeze pay for one or more years because of budget problems. Like any job.. you want to know (before you start) - [ul] [li]What is the pay[/li] [li]what is the leave policy[/li] [li]what type of insurance do they have and how much is it[/li] [/ul] These are things to find out before you go to an actual school (they are usually district level issues, but in NY I am not sure if they might be set by localities). These are not really things that the principal is going to want to talk to you about at the school. Things specific to schools that you want to know [ul] [li] What are class sizes[/li] [li]How many "preps" do teachers have[/li] [li]How is the teacher load/schedule determined.[/li] [li]What types of supports do they have for new teachers.[/li] [li]What does the principal think is the most important quality in a teacher.[/li] [li]How does the principal manage the school (how involved is he/she in day to day classroom activities)[/li] [li]What special focus or projects does the school have[/li] [/ul] As a science teacher you will also want to know [ul] [li]What are the lab facilities like[/li] [li]What type of emphasis is on lab work[/li] [li]What technology is available for science and labs[/li] [li]What is the technology expectation of teachers[/li] [li]What is the safety record of the school[/li] [li]What financial support is there for science classes (well funded?)[/li] [li]Is inquiry-based learning expected/supported?[/li] [li]Does the schedule support lab work?[/li] [/ul] There is often competition for jobs, so you may not want to be so picky as a first year teacher. An experienced teacher almost always has an advantage over a new teacher. Once you have a position you can often transfer between schools in the district or move to a new district with one or two years of experience under your belt. More importantly - having sat in on hiring committees and having been an interviewer at the APS job fair many times. There are things you can do to improve your chances of getting hired (which is probably more important than finding the perfect job). You need to have an example of a lesson plan (it should follow the district guidelines) It would be good to have a lesson plan that you used in your student teaching. [ul] [li]Understand the lingo of the district (use their lingo)[/li] [li]Be able to clearly articulate the importance of inquiry[/li] [li]Be able to clearly articulate how you will engage students[/li] [li]Be able to clearly articulate the importance of mutual respect between student-teacher-student[/li] [li]Understand your own ideas about how kids learn science (and link that to research)[/li] [/ul] One of the beautiful things about teaching is that the type of environment you teach in is at least partly driven by you. Even in the most difficult situations (discipline, money, parents, colleagues, administration) a teacher can create a robust, engaging, supportive learning environment where students are supported and valued. More than anything else, you will be the one who determines how your career progresses. If you start at a school where you have to teach 3 different sciences, you can improve the quality of those classes so that more kids take them and the school needs to hire additional staff so each only end up teaching 2 sciences... that kind of thing. Hows that?

Daniel Carroll
Daniel Carroll
18550 Activity Points

As a student teacher about to graduate, this was very helpful! Thank you!

Kayla Adair
Kayla Adair
680 Activity Points

As a current student teacher this was very helpful for when I begin to apply for a job. There are many questions here I would not have thought to ask in the interview. Thank you for your thoughts.

Patricia Wolf
Patricia Wolf
1080 Activity Points

Daniel, I found all of the information you have provided very helpful. I am glad you have shared this with all of us. When becoming a new teacher, I find it important to have as much information, resources, and tools to have in your hands. Being prepared is something that is valuable for all teachers. Having the information in list form as well helped me see the ideas and tips for me as a future teacher. Great job! I will definitely be looking at your post again for more information.

Marissa Berger
Marissa Berger
3819 Activity Points

I really found this informative. I am graduating mid year so I need all the information I can get!

Jessica Clickner
Jessica Clickner
795 Activity Points

Thank you to the person that created this thread! It is really helpful to be able to come on to NSTA and find information like this. We learn so much in our ed programs but I feel like this kind of stuff we have to fend for ourselves to find out. This is a really informative and helpful thread! Thanks for all of the info. I can't wait to put it to use!

Sydney McCain
Sydney McCain
985 Activity Points

I would definitely ask if they have a solid mentoring program. My very first year of teaching I was paired up with a teacher who really should not have been a mentor. Make sure the teacher assigned to you are capable and willing to help you out. At the school I'm at now new teachers to the school- regardless of whether they are first year teachers or not were paired up with mentors. I had a great mentor and wish I would've had someone like that my very first year. I also ask about class sizes, curriculum, types of professional development available (and whether or not the district pays for them or if it's out of pocket.)

Brenda Velasco
Brenda Velasco
2060 Activity Points

I just saw this today -- examples of a cover letter for job applications in education. For what it's worth--- Colleges and universities usually have career centers that can help with letters, resumes/vitae, etc.

Mary B.

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
7765 Activity Points

I love this thread! There is so much useful information! I am using NSTA for my science methods course at UNI. I love resources like this as I head into student teaching and start applying for jobs! It's great knowing that there are so many people willing to give advice and reach out to help those of us that are just starting! Thank you all again!

Kia Widen
Kia Widen
3658 Activity Points

I love all of the insights you have given me through this thread. I love getting new ideas/thoughts from other teachers whether they are new teachers or mentor teachers. I think sharing ideas on a public site like this one used by so many people is great. A lot of information, useful information is used/given. I found this to be very helpful for myself, as a student that will be student teaching come January.

Brooke Bartels
Brooke Bartels
4265 Activity Points

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