By: Taylor Barnett
As I have poured over job descriptions over the past couple months, I have noticed a common theme among most teaching applications: they all want teachers with experience. I realize that teaching experience is a valuable tool that cannot be mimicked or reenacted outside of a classroom setting; however, for the new, inexperienced teachers, how are we ever supposed to gain entry into a world where we are constantly viewed as being on the outside?
In the past three weeks, I have been denied from over ten schools because of my lack of classroom experience evinced by my resume. Despite working as an assistant swim coach for five years and as a summer camp counselor, the human resource representatives from both private and public schools don’t see those job titles as being valuable or equivalent to classroom experience.
In actuality, being a swim coach and camp counselor has more adequately prepared me for the beginning of a teaching career than being thrown into student teaching did. While being a swim coach, I had to manage over thirty kids at one time, teach them valuable stroke techniques that would be the fundamentals of their swimming for the entirety of their lives, and deal with the demands of their parents on a daily basis. While working as a summer camp counselor, I was required to take my class of twenty (sometimes even twenty-five) on weekly field trips, explore school-required curriculum with my students, and simultaneously work with students who ranged from ages four to twelve.
Although I cannot express all of these daily tasks on a resume, I have to wonder, what is it that schools are looking for from new teachers? Must I hold a Master’s degree, be bilingual, and have graduated with hours and hours of community service to be considered for a job? If that is the case, schools are going to be missing out on compassionate, dedicated, new educators because they are placing their standards too high and leaving out those of us who are inexperienced.
As I am now working with a teaching agency in the state of Connecticut, I am finding that the job search isn’t just difficult for teachers who have their certification in another state; rather, it is hard for ALL beginning teachers. And in most cases, unless the first-year teacher has connections within a school district, through being an alumnus or through family/friends, it is likely the teacher will obtain a job in an underfunded school, which is endemic in oppressed communities and which warrants an entire blog post of its own.
I think that as new teachers, it is important to keep an open mind while we’re applying for jobs. Unfortunately the job search is going to be tough and won’t always land us the job of our dreams; however, the more diligence we have, the more exposure that we can get ourselves in the teaching world, the better our chances will be for being recognized as innovative, important educators. Our country NEEDS teachers like us, which is why we need to continue to try to be recognized as essential to the future of education.
My name is Taylor Barnett and I am a recent graduate of Bucknell University. As an undergraduate at Bucknell, I was a Divison 1 Women’s Water Polo player, as well as an Early Childhood Education major. Although I am originally from Texas, I have just recently moved to Connecticut and am looking to work as an early childhood teacher. In the future, I would love to attend graduate school to seek out a Master’s degree in TESOL.