Monday, January 30, 2012

I Got a Job Offer!! What Do I Ask About Now??!!? PART 2

The second question that you should ask about is insurance benefits. What types of insurance are offered? HMO, PPO, Health Savings Account, Flexible Spending Account? Make sure that you understand the type of insurance and the network that you are in for your health care. With your health insurance, do you have a copay that you would pay when you visit a physician? What is your deductible limit? Is there a copay for prescriptions and if so, what is the copay?

Do you get dental insurance? What is covered in the dental, cleaning at 100%? Do you get life insurance?

Does the board pay the single coverage of health, dental and life insurance or is there a cost to you as the employee? If there is a cost, how much is that monthly? What is the timeframe of the coverage; through the school year and summer? If you need family insurance, is it available to you? If so, what is the cost monthly and the family deductible?

Most districts have an insurance packet that explains all the benefits available to employees. Be sure to ask questions if you are unsure about the coverage and costs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Got a Job Offer!! What Do I Ask About Now??!!

Congratulations, you got a job offer!! There are many questions now that you should have for your employer that you need to get the answers to BEFORE you accept the job.

First you need to ask about the Compensation Package. What is your salary and how do you get increases if you are rehired? Most districts have a salary schedule that teachers are placed on based on their degree and years of experience. By law in Illinois, these collective bargaining agreements MUST be posted online on the district website. When interested in a district, find that agreement and read through it. Most of the agreements are multi-year, so read through the agreement and find the salary schedule for the year that you will be teaching. With the struggling economy and budget reductions, districts throughout the country have moved to alternative compensation approaches, so there might not be a salary schedule on the website. Compensation could be through merit pay, or a beginning salary for new teachers with flat percentage increases in subsequent years. Whatever the method of determining your salary, make sure you understand and ask questions if you do not.

In Illinois, retirement savings have been through the Illinois Teacher Retirement System, teachers currently do not contribute to or receive Social Security in Illinois. Legislation has changed how retirement funds are determined, so be sure to ask about the retirement options that you have. YES, you are just starting your first job, BUT you need to begin to save now for your retirement!!

In the next few weeks, I will explain other employment benefits and questions you should ask on insurance, professional development, and mentoring.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Should I Bring a Portfolio to an Interview?

Should I create and bring an electronic or notebook portfolio to an interview? Most colleges require students to develop an electronic portfolio and most teacher candidates bring a copy of the portfolio on a CD to an interview. How can you use the electronic portfolio effectively?
When interviewing, use the electronic or notebook portfolio to demonstrate your strengths and experiences. Use visuals with minimal text that you can show during the interview but that can provide you with discussion tips to share with the interview team. For example, if you have worked with students on interventions for RtI, use the RtI triangle and insert various interventions in each of the three intervention levels. This gives you the opportunity to explain those interventions rather than handing the interview team the portfolio to read. Another example would be to have a photo of a teacher with students in a classroom and then have descriptions of classroom management techniques that you can discuss with the interview team.
Your portfolio should include your philosophy of education, classroom management best practices, parental involvement practices, effective teaching practices, assessment, and reflections.
Development of your portfolio will help you to "regroup" your teaching experiences, your educational views, teaching skills and strengths and present them in a way that is beneficial to you as a teacher candidate.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Do I attend a Job Fair?

YES!! In this competitive job environment, getting a face-to-face opportunity with school district personnel is a must! For each job posting, school districts are receiving hundreds of online applications from teacher candidates trying to land a job. Attending a job fair, gives a candidate an opportunity to meet school district personnel, if only for a brief moment and gives the school district personnel an opportunity to put a face with a resume. When attending the job fair, first choose those districts that you are interested in and get to those booths first. You might want to create a checklist of the schools and who you get to talk to. There will be MANY attendees at the job fair, so be patient and have a strategy on which districts you want to target. At job fairs, you may have a "mini-interview"; so it is important for you to review short, concise responses to a variety of questions that you might be asked. Have copies of your resume that you can hand out, and a few copies of electronic portfolios that you can leave with some selected districts that you are more interested in. Find a way to stand out---so that the district personnel will remember you after you leave the booths. Dress professionally, but not too flashy. Do not get frustrated with the job fair process; use it as a learning experience to make contacts and don't expect to get a job at the job fair. Job Fairs are another way to make connections, determine which districts you feel match your beliefs and values, and prepare for applications to those districts once a vacancy is posted.