From Student Teacher to Teacher: Making the First Cut (Part I)

Article excerpt

Preservice teachers in elementary teacher education programs for the most part are well trained and prepared in meeting the needs of the students they face in today's classrooms. For many preservice teachers a more traumatic experience is the transition from student teacher to teacher. Due to various time and curricular constraints, the student teaching seminar leaves minimal time for teacher educators to responsibly cover and support the needs of student teachers in the employment preparation process. This article proposes five basic components that will assist preservice teachers how to successfully promote themselves as they prepare for the process of transition from student teacher to teacher. The purpose is to provide the student teacher with an understanding of some basic skills needed in order to secure that first teaching position. The major components to be addressed are: (1) reflecting and writing one's teaching philosophy/education platform, (2) cover letter/letter of employment, (3) resume, and (4) references.

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Preservice teachers in elementary and secondary teacher education programs for the most part are well trained and prepared to meet the needs of the students they face in today's classrooms. For many preservice teachers a more traumatic experience is the transition from student teacher to teacher. The job search is an exciting and stressful time for a beginning professional (Pelletier, 2000). Traditionally teacher preparation programs leave the "securing your first job seminar" to the career services office within the university (Senne, 2002). Because of various time and curricular constraints in the "student teaching seminar," which often meets once per week during the semester or as few as seven sessions, leaves minimal time for teacher educators to responsibly cover and support the needs of the student teachers in the employment preparation process. This article proposes five basic components that will assist preservice teachers to successfully promote themselves as they prepare for the process of transition from student teacher to teacher. The hope is to provide the student teacher with an understanding of some basic skills needed in order to secure that first teaching position. The major components to be addressed are: (1) developing a teaching philosophy or education platform, (2) the cover letter or letter of employment, (3) preparing the resume, and (4) seeking references. This article is written primarily with three audiences in mind; first with the hope of assisting elementary preservice teachers gain basic knowledge of the process of employment as they transition from student teacher to teacher; second, for elementary teacher educators' to use as a tool when facilitating the student teaching seminar in order to support their student teachers in this challenging process. Third, it can also assist any individual who is in the process of changing employment from one education position to another.

Education Philosophy/Education Platform

The education philosophy statement, also known as the teaching philosophy or education platform is the piece that is most challenging to construct and write. Once written, it is easy to adapt and change as you gain further teaching experiences, and as your values and beliefs change regarding teaching and learning. I prefer to use the term "educational platform" instead of education or teaching philosophy. The education platform should be based on your beliefs, opinions, attitudes, and values that provide a foundation for your practice as a teacher and a learner. This beliefs, opinions, attitudes, and values are called a "platform." Political parties are supposed to base their decision on a "party" platform. In the same way, educators make decisions, plan instruction and teach according to their educational platform (Cunningham & Cordeiro, 2000; Sergiovanni & Starrat 1998).

Knowing your education platform/philosophy positions, and being able to communicate them to others, is key. …

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