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  • by Blaine Helwig

So, I want to be a teacher???

With the globalization effects on the world economy, many traditional university degrees lack a structured pathway to professional work. In addition to the usual elementary education degreed candidates each spring, around 201l, I first noticed a resume spike in alternatively certified teaching candidates with degrees in journalism, English, psychology, fine arts, liberal arts, etc.

Suddenly, there was a supply of folks that desired to work with children – many independent of their chosen university degree plan. I am not criticizing; I was alternatively certified back in the 1990’s. It is economic survival. I understand the situation both personally and professionally. As a principal, I hired almost exclusively alternative certified teachers. If one knows what to look for, those candidates have much to offer.

So, what are the qualities a Title 1 principal is searching for in teaching candidates?

What qualities define the successful teaching candidate?

At job fairs recruiting elementary teachers to work at my urban Title 1 school – if I had an employment interest – I would begin the interview process with the following question to candidates, “What do you hope to accomplish as a teacher in a Title 1 elementary school?” Their responses varied from fantastic to bizarre. After reading the remaining of this essay, the reason for this question will be more than evident.

I believe the criteria listed below are some of the invaluable qualities that are endemic of an effective Title 1 elementary teacher. It is relatively easy to train teachers in pedagogical efficacy and effective classroom management, but the candidate must possess these attributes. Pointed interview questions and resume work and academic experience dictate if the candidate is a ‘diamond in the rough’ Title 1 elementary teacher – or not.

The 8 attributes of a prospective teaching candidate

  1. It is a Calling – The prospective candidate must desire to make a positive academic and social difference in children’s lives.

  2. Fundamentals – The teacher must possess a strong reading, writing, mathematics and science background. It is difficult to teach others what has not been personally mastered.

  3. Relationally Adept – The most effective teachers are task masters that build strong teacher-student relationships that motivate children.

  4. Disposition – calm demeanor

  5. Skill Sets – High work ethic possessing strong analytical, communicative and organizational skills.

  6. Coachable – Teaching children is a skill like any other skill. Learning from others is key to success.

  7. Interpersonal – The teacher must be reflective, introspective and results oriented.

  8. Professionalism – Understand that teaching is professional work – and dress in attire suitable to professional work. Simply put, a teacher does not work at McDonald’s, so arrive to a school dressed and speaking as a professional.

The public schools are in the education 'business' and receive tremendous local, state and federal monies to ensure students master academic skills and related applications. The child’s opportunity to receive an academic education occurs almost exclusively in the school setting. However, there is often a dearth of teaching candidates in the Title 1 schools.

With university graduates experiencing difficultly securing gainful professional employment, principals can choose high quality candidates to work at their schools. Teaching children and young adults provides not only professional employment for the recent graduate regardless of field of study, but it affords high-need Title 1 classrooms with motivated young teachers possessing specific skill sets.

Globalization is a phenomenon that will require societal adaptation. No doubt about it. But, there is an unintended benefit of globalization with regard to the public schools. It is presenting a symbiotic situation of opportunity for our recent college graduates as well as the education betterment of our most needy school aged children.

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