This time of year brings state testing, end of the year awards, report cards, student events, and closing up your classroom for the summer. It also means a new contract offer is potentially in the works, and many teachers are thinking about what’s next. Some know right away that their current situation needs to change. Other teachers might not feel as black and white about their situation. Some things to consider when deciding whether or not you will be moving to a new position are your commute, whether a new, better suited teaching position has opened up, or maybe your desire to teach a different grade or subject.
After all, change is hard. When you move to a new school, there are new systems to learn, copier tricks to master, and lesson plans to write. Those tasks paired with teaching could burn out even the most veteran teacher. It can also be tough leaving behind old friends and colleagues for the unknown. However, leaving a toxic work environment, finding “the one” perfect teaching role, or a much more convenient commute might be the perfect motivation needed to make a move.
If you have decided that a change is in your future, consider posing some of the key questions below during your interview. Change is hard, but finding the right fit for you is critical!
- How would you describe the staff culture at your school? What types of activities do staff do throughout the year?
- There’s something to be said for a staff that has traditions and an administration that actively creates the culture needed for the school to succeed. Knowing that teachers are fun, active, and invested in their school is refreshing, and if you feel excited about your interviewer’s response to this question it can be a great sign that the school might be a fit for you. We know that teachers are most satisfied at schools where they feel surrounded by inspiring colleagues and friends as well.
- What are you most proud of about your school?
- This question gets to the school’s character and goals but also to where the school leader’s heart is. Are they proud of their amazing students, 100% teacher retention, school music program? Or maybe it is their brand-new gym? Knowing what your priorities are in the classroom and aligning them with the priorities of your workplace is important. Clashes arise when there is misalignment between what’s important to you and what’s important to your school leader. Feel out the school’s unspoken priorities with this question.
- Aside from student achievement, what do you think characterizes your best teachers?
- This question also hits on some (potentially unspoken) beliefs about what makes a great teacher, and you should check your own beliefs against those of your future administrator. It’s important that you feel a shared philosophy about what’s best for students with your school leader to maximize your ability to grow and develop under their guidance. This question also can give you some insight into what things you can and should be doing to be most successful from Day 1 should you be offered a position at their school.
- How do you work to retain your best teachers year after year?
- Knowing whether or not your school leader has a plan for teacher retention can tell you a lot about them as a leader. A leadership team that values its best teachers enough to make efforts to keep them is usually one you want to work for! And, knowing what those efforts are can help you decide whether or not their school is a place you can see yourself long-term. This question also lets your future principal know that you are looking to build a future at their school and that it’s not just a stepping stone.
If you are considering a change in position, reach out to Nina Tinsley of OneTeacher for help finding your “perfect fit” school and role in general education or administration, or to Teressa Ribbens of Teacher Retention Project for Special Education teaching positions.