Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Does it Mean to be RIFd?

During these tough budgetary times, most school districts will be doing RIFs (Reduction in Force) at the February and March Board of Education meetings in Illinois. The Board of Education may have made decisions to RIF employees due to the following: increase class size, thus eliminating a classroom; is unsure about enrollment at this time, so RIFing teachers, in the event that enrollment does not support the need for another teacher; or is unsure about the budget from the state and other state payments.

The School Code requires that written notice for Reduction in Force be given to non-tenured teachers at least 45 calendar days before the end of the school year. In the school code all releases, either due to budget or due to performance for non-tenured teachers are documented as "non-renewal of probationary teachers." At this time, non-tenured teachers do not have a statutory right to bump other teachers and do not have seniority rights. Your principal will inform you that you will be RIFd and what that means. If you have questions, you can ask your union representative as well.

This is a very emotional time for most teachers being RIFd-- it means losing your job. Most teachers feel that they have worked hard and given their heart and soul, and now are losing their job. Understand that most RIFs in current time are due to the tough economy and lack of local and state monies available to districts. Always be professional during this time; do not get caught up in the rumor mill and negative conversations. Continue to work hard and meet the needs of your students.

The Reductions in Force are publicly announced at the board meeting stating the names of employees to be RIFd and the Board of Education must vote to accept those reductions.

It is possible for the Board to recall non-tenured teachers at any time, and teachers could be recalled right up to the week before school. There is no seniority for recall of non-tenured teachers, so districts have the option to recall who they feel is the best candidate should a position open.

If you are RIFd, begin looking at your options for employment immediately! The competition for open positions will be fierce, so you need to be assertive early! Get those online applications, resumes, and cover letters out to districts that have posted vacancies!!

Ask you principal about compensation arrangements if you are on 24 pay and the duration of insurance benefits.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Cover Letter

The cover letter is very important to the employer, as it perks their interest in what you can bring to the position, school and district. Individualize your cover letters with each application; nothing is worse than the online generic cover letter that is sent to a district/school with the wrong employer information on it!! Make sure that each cover letter is addressed to the correct employer!!

Check out the school and district website and find out what the district/school goals are. In your cover letter, highlight your experiences/skills/knowledge in those areas. If the school vision and mission outline the type of learners that the district wants to create, highlight how you will promote that in your teaching. This makes you more desirable as a candidate and also shows that you have done your homework on the school/district.

The cover letter allows you to show a bit of your personality--what your experiences have been, your outstanding strengths, and passion and dedication to teaching.

With all the candidates seeking jobs right now, you have to use that cover letter to STAND OUT among all the online applications that schools/districts will be reviewing.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Got a Job Offer!! What Do I Ask About Now??!! Part 4

Once you have that offer, don't forget to ask about professional development opportunities that are available to you as a new teacher and for future years!

Some school districts provide opportunities for teachers to attend workshops within the district as well as conferences locally or at the state level.

Within the district, there may be book clubs, coaching sessions on a various topic, internet presentations on a topic, as well as required professional development sessions for teachers to attend.

Teachers may be sent to conferences on specific topics that the district/school is focusing on. Sometimes multiple teachers at a specific grade level will attend, or teachers from various grade levels will attend.

Tuition reimbursement programs for continuing education are offered by some districts. Ask about the plan that your district/school has available to teachers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I Got a Job Offer!! What Do I Ask About Now??!! Part 3

Now that you have that job offer, the third question you should be asking is if a teacher mentoring programs in the school or district is available. Some states approve certificate renewals without additional coursework if the new teacher participated in a two year mentor program.

Mentoring helps novice teachers face their first year of teaching with support from a mentor teacher in answering the day to day questions of managing a classroom, ways to navigate the "school systems," prioritize the day to day tasks, and maintain a healthy perspective when new teachers feel things are piling up on them.

Mentors also assist in lesson planning, best practices, observing the new teacher and providing feedback. New teachers also face the challenge of the alphabet soup of education: IEP, RtI, AP, DI, CC, QAR and the many school improvement efforts that mentor teachers can interpret for them!

Mentoring programs are a MUST for a first and second year teacher! Does your new school/district have one?