Student Teacher References: Don’t Forget The Principal
You may not be aware but it was the school principal that OK’d your placement in the building. Yes, your cooperating teacher is the “rock star” that will help you transfer your book knowledge into the classroom. Another one of your supporters is your Student Teaching Supervisor who will help you bridge college and classroom experiences. But, it’s the school principal that can be your best ally in being hired as a teacher. Very often, the principal will be one of the 3 people called by a hiring principal for a reference if you are a potential hire. So, don’t forget, the principal is watching you and thinking about the answers to “the call” for your future success.
Before Your Placement
Accepting student teachers in your building is not an easy decision. Even the best prepared student teacher can be a liability in a building. There is always a concern about sharing a master teachers’ time when more teaching time is always needed. A well qualified student teacher can be a great support for students, but not always. To ensure a qualified candidate, I often called the college placement office to be sure that we would be getting top candidates.
During Your Placement
All student teachers should do a quick search on characteristics of great student teachers. This list should be copied, pasted and committed to memory. They are all true. Student teachers should also remember that there are “no secrets” in schools. Commit that to memory too. The principal gets both official and unofficial updates about your progress throughout your placement. So be sure that updates are positive. One of the most important things to do in your placement is be sure that the principal sees your contributions. Don’t wait until the end of your placement to make a lasting impression.
At the End of Your Placement
At the end of your placement, be sure to leave a note of thanks for the building principal. That simple gesture. along with an updated resume, with specific accomplishments achieved during your placement is beneficial. That “cheat sheet” will help the principal answer questions if they get a call about you. Many districts require a minimum number of personal contacts for candidates being considered for employment. Recommendations letters are helpful but it’s the personal contact responses that are placed in your hiring packet and submitted for final review.
So, what are the top 5 questions that hiring principals ask the principal about student teacher performance?
- What are the candidates strengths?
- What are the candidates weaknesses?
- How did the candidate work with students?
- How did the candidate get along with others in the school?
- If you had a position available, would you hire the candidate? Why or why not?
In addition, rating candidates on personal characteristics is common. (Ex. punctuality, appearance, communication, preparedness, character, involvement in school activities) Ratings are usually 1-5 and few scores should be less than 4. So give your principal the opportunity to sing your praises by sharing a “cheat sheet” of your positive contributions.
Finally, I believe that its my responsibility to only recommend someone that I know is a good to great candidate. So, doesn’t it make sense that I keep an eye out for you? Combining that along with a “cheat sheet” just might help you secure a job.
Student Teachers: Keep an eye out for future postings on creative interview questions along with characteristics of effective student teachers.
Good Luck Folks!
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