Senior Music Education Majors’ Employment Prep
Did you miss your state MEA conference?
Three of the most important recommendations for PCMEA members and other new or prospective music teachers wanting to develop a “personal brand” and presence on the job market are:
- Being an active member of your national (NAfME), state (PMEA), and local (college chapter) professional music teacher associations,
- Attending every possible music education meeting, workshop and conference, and
- Reading everything you can get your hands on from the first two resources above, modeling well-practiced habits of professionalism and networking skills, and getting yourself focused, organized, and prepared for the upcoming interviews.
That’s how you will get land your first employment as a full-time music educator.
If you live or go to school in PA, you should have attended the PMEA Spring Conference in Erie, PA last week. Just to “rub it in” a little, here are a few of the excellent sessions you missed that were especially geared for collegiate pre-service music teachers:
- Getting the Most Out of Your Student Teaching Experience
- Cracking the Graduate School Code: When, Where, Why, How, & How Much
- Starting with the End in Mind – or – You’ve Got 4 Years, Use Them Wisely
- Music Education & Gaming: Interdisciplinary Connections for the Classroom
- Ready for Hire! Interview Strategies to Land a Job
- Planning Strategies to Develop a Responsive Teaching Mindset
More importantly, if you are in your 4th year and were a no-show to your state conference this year, you missed out the chance to do a little networking, to “put your ear to the ground” listening for market trends and possible position openings for next year. You could have rubbed elbows at a bar (drinking a diet coke) or clinic or concert with a music supervisor, department chair, administrator, or high school band/choir director who knows who is taking a sabbatical or retiring at his/her school upon completion of the current semester.
Successful professionals stay up-to-date with their journals
As a “professional,” you have an open, inquisitive mind, constantly strive for self-improvement, continuing education, and retooling, embrace change and better ways of doing something, and “practice” your craft. This means you read your educational publications from cover to cover. For example, these were a few of the tips in a recent PMEA News article, “I’ve Got an Interview, Now What?” shared by Dr. Kathleen Melago, PCMEA State Advisor and Associate Professor of Music Education at Slippery Rock University, and Doug Bolasky, retired band and orchestra teacher and former Department Chair of the Southern Lehigh School District:
- “The interview process at each school district is likely as unique as the district itself, and while there is no foolproof way to know in advance what questions will be asked of you, it helps to give some thought to what questions may come your way.”
- “It’s easy to tell someone what you would like to do; more valuable to the interviewers is what you DID do. Be ready to cite instances from your student teaching and even field experiences.”
- “Think about items you could place into your portfolio that would help you answer the questions. For example, if you are answering a question about an idea you implemented that was creative, consider including an artifact in your portfolio that provides credibility to your answer. Avoid simply passing around your portfolio during the interview. Instead, use it as a visual aid…”
- “Enlist the aid of a friend and use a webcam to record yourself answering the questions as in a mock interview. Look for distracting mannerisms like playing with your hair, saying ‘um’ or ‘like,’ and so forth.
Are you ready? Assess yourself! Then, DO YOUR HOMEWORK NOW!
For those who are nearing completion of their coursework for a teaching certificate, the season of professional school interviews is coming… At this point, you should be familiar with assessment rubrics and other evaluative tools used in education. Right NOW how well do you stack up in prepping for employment screenings? Complete this checklist as honestly as possible. I am citing and “reviewing” past articles I have written at this blog-site… a perfect opportunity for you to “fill in the missing gaps” and get started on this process of finding the perfect job!
- [ ] I am familiar with numerous criteria for assessing teacher candidates (for what the employment screening committee may be looking), including specific instructional, professional, and personal skills, experiences, behaviors, or ”core teaching standards” of “Unsatisfactory,” “Satisfactory,” “Good,” or “Superior.” I know the Charlotte Danielson Framework (one evaluative model for professional development – see https://www.danielsongroup.org/) or sample school district assessment forms. DO YOUR HOMEWORK NOW: https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/criteria-for-selection-of-the-ideal-teacher-candidate/ and https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/a-blueprint-for-success-preparing-for-the-job-interview/.
- [ ] I have developed a comprehensive unified philosophy of music education that spotlights my abilities from the perspective of a generalist not a specialist. I can model competency and experience in general music, piano playing, vocal and instrumental (band, strings, and guitar) music, Classical, jazz, pop, and folk music styles, improvisation, composition and music theory, and technology teaching grades Pre-K to 12. DO YOUR HOMEWORK NOW: https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/marketing-yourself-and-your-k-12-music-certification/.
- [ ] I am comfortable with today’s jargon, current trends, and key “buzz words” in general education. This includes everything from “The Common Core” to “The Four C’s” of 21st Century learning, and all of those constantly changing acronyms like HOTS, DOK, RTI, and UBD. These terms may come up at interviews, so I have at least precursory understanding about them, and if I am “stumped” with a particular question, I will admit needing clarification (and I will look it up when I get home). DO YOUR HOMEWORK NOW: https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/the-alphabet-soup-of-educational-acronyms/.
- [ ] I am becoming a proficient storyteller and have prepared a set of personal anecdotes to potential questions that may be asked at the interviews. I have practiced responding with specific examples of my past experience and accomplishments, not “telling my strengths” but allowing the listener(s) to make his/her own deductions about you from my stories. DO YOUR HOMEWORK NOW: https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/when-it-comes-to-getting-a-job-s-is-for-successful-storytelling/.
- [ ] I have practiced taking “mock interviews” in front of my peers and recorded myself for self-assessment of my ability to answer employment screening questions. DO YOUR HOMEWORK NOW: https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/the-dos-and-donts-of-interviewing/, https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/interview-questions-revisited/, https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2016/06/04/those-tricky-interview-questions/, and https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/body-language-interviewing-for-a-job/.
- I understand the concepts of…
- [ ] Personal branding (https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/tips-on-personal-branding/), and
- [ ] Professional networking (https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/networking-niceties/).
- I have a high-quality…
- [ ] Resume (https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/music-teacher-resumes-revisited/),
- [ ] Business card (https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/networking-niceties/ and https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/21st-century-job-search-techniques/),
- [ ] Written and electronic portfolio (https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/planning-the-perfect-professional-portfolio/), and
- [ ] Professional website (future blog).
What was YOUR score… out of 11?
Get to work… so you can get work!
Photo credits: FreeImages.com, photographers hvaldez1 (studying for a test), Tory Byrne (quiz), and Svilen Milev (hire).
© 2017 Paul K. Fox