Is Your Skill Set Still On Release 3.0?

Is Your Skill Set Still On Release 3.0?
If you've been teaching for a while, and find yourself looking for a new position, an updated skill set will help make you competitive in today's job market.

Is your skill set still on Release 3.0? This is a tricky question for many of us teachers to answer. Why? Because many of us think we don't need to update our skill set once we have found our dream teaching position in a great school. We're set, right? Not exactly. As we all know, things can change in a flash. Against this backdrop, let's explore your skill set and figure out how to do some necessary upgrades.

Why do you need to upgrade your skill set?

As I pointed out in the opening paragraph, your circumstances can change in a nanosecond. The most common reason for suddenly needing a new teaching position is a major change in your family circumstances. For example, a member of your family who lives in another state has an accident or becomes seriously ill, requiring your presence in the area. While you could take Family Medical Leave, it has become obvious that the best solution is to move closer to your family member so that you can supervise his care and generally be there for him. That means you will need to look for a new teaching job.

This video stresses the importance of keeping your skill set up to date.

The critical thing to understand is that life can deal you unexpected cards. You thought you were all set. Suddenly you're not. That is the reason why you must upgrade your skill set.

Does your skill-set need updating?

Assess your skill set critically. For example, when did you earn your degree? When did you last attend a regional or national conference on your subject? When did you last contribute to an online forum in your teaching specialty? If the answer to some or all of these questions is "I can't remember!" then your skill-set needs upgrading.

Take me, for example. I graduated from McGill University in 1966. Eons ago! I studied for and passed my most recent professional certification two years ago. During the intervening 45-plus years, I've earned approximately ten more professional certifications. I learned the hard way years ago that I had to update my skill set regularly to stay marketable. I am on release 11.2 and proud of that.

What needs updating?

I know what you're thinking. "I have been teaching English for ten years. I have proven course materials and effective lesson plans. My evaluations from administration, parents, and students alike are consistently superior. What more do I possibly need to offer?" Your core skill set and track record are excellent. You're well-regarded in your current school setting and within the surrounding community.

Do you have some short video clips of you teaching a class? Do you have some short video clips of you explaining why your subject is necessary and how it will benefit your students as they mature? I define short as less than ten minutes and suggest editing a much longer video to create the professional impression you want to convey to people who do not know you. The result you're trying to achieve is simple: "We have to have this person on our faculty." Years ago, our resumes and curriculum vitae helped explain who we were and what we could do. These days a resume and curriculum vitae are part of a more extensive presentation of who we are.

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? However, a video clip displays your skill set much better than words on paper can. The viewer can see your enthusiasm. She can see you connecting with your students. She can feel your experience and a firm grasp of the subject material by watching you doing what she needs you to do in her school.

So, what needs updating? The presentation of your abilities and skills as a teacher does.

In this TEDx Talk, Azul Terronez explains what makes a great teacher.

When was it last updated?

You may have some video clips in your archives. They might be helpful for historical purposes, but do you want a prospective employer to see you in those 80s or 90s clothing and hairstyles? Create a short 'through the years' video if you must but keep it to yourself and your friends and family. Then, shoot a new set of video clips for your current job search. I recommend shooting a video of you in the classroom once a year. That way, you will always have it ready to go when needed.

How can you update your skill set?

Updating the presentation of your skill set is one thing. Updating the skills which comprise that skill set is quite another. Start with certifications or presenting a paper at a professional conference. Essentially, you need to show some evidence of peer review of your work. Demonstrate that you have done this within the last year or so. Have you presented a TED Talk? There is some cachet involved when you give a TED Talk. Have you written a book? Has it been well-reviewed? What about using technology? Have you created a data set of facts and information for your lesson plans? Do you blog regularly and authoritatively on the fine point of your subject? Are you an expert in PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and Access? Most of us know how to use these programs on a basic level. But being an expert is another matter.

What about teaching English as a second language? Boarding schools have always accepted non-English speaking students. Demonstrating that you have the credentials to be an ESL teacher sets you apart from the other applicants for the teaching position you are considering applying for.

What about your resume?

When did you last update your resume? Keep it current. Always remember that a resume is a dynamic document. Tailor it to suit the requirements of the position for which you are applying. Only a few schools use online application forms to the extent that businesses do. Still, it makes sense to think with that level of clarity as you update your resume.

What about your interview skills?

All your updates will be for naught if you don't update your interviewing skills. If the last time you interviewed for a job was ten years ago, hire a coach to guide you through some practice interviews. As I pointed out earlier, the impression you want to create immediately is, "We need this person on our faculty."

This video offers advice on interviewing for a job.

Good luck upgrading your skill set. If you have questions, feel free to contact us on Facebook: @baordingschoolreview

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