Moving Up? 4 Tips For Managing Your Career As A Teacher

by Karen Baptiste

This March in Houston, ASCD held its 70th Annual Conference for educators and enthusiasts seeking information from the latest innovation and invention to the most effective resources.

One of the memorable opportunities provided this year was the Student Career Chat for Student Chapter Members interested in advancing their job search or even relocating to continue their career. Many of the topics discussed were ideal for educators hoping to advance their career, whether in the current district or by relocating, and I’ve aimed to capture some of the best insights to share with you.

Moving Up? 4 Tips For Managing Your Career As A Teacher

1. Build real relationships.

It can be easy to stay in the same position until you retire with no growth or movement, but if your desire is to move upward, you have to stay current with your organization’s progress or movement, and make sure the organization knows about you as well. I always think of myself as a brand: how will I market myself to decision-makers? This is a key question to consider as you establish your value. 

For starters, introduce yourself to others and start building relationships. Everything you do is about relationships! If you’re moving up within the same organization, then you should have networked with other individuals who are in a position to hire you. You should attend events that the school or district holds, and even volunteer to help out with logistics. 

Digital connections are fanastic, but they should serve authentic connections, not replace them.

2. Keep a compelling portfolio.

As your relationships will be grounded in your work, start showcasing your work to others in and outside of your department or school. You should keep a portfolio of the work you’ve done, along with measures of its effectiveness over a period of time. If you are in a position where you have had little demonstrable impact, then that may not be the right position for you, and chances are you will struggle with getting a promotion.

Something that is true in education and across all industries: employers always want to know what impact you have made to prove you will be an asset to their company. Your portfolio should be substantive, visual, easy to share, and indicative of your talent as an educator.

3. Technology can extend the reach of your work. 

If you can, attend public events or job fairs that the school district is having and start to network and connect with individuals from there. Also, look up their social media page and see who people are and what they have done in the past. Technology has evolved immensely and we have access at our fingertips to look up organizations and people.

For example, you can search for different people on sites such as LinkedIn and friend request them. Networking with people via social media allows you to see what they support, believe in, and their career path. Finding their Twitter handle is also a great way to follow an organization or person’s work.

The school community’s local media and newspaper are great outlets for you to do your due diligence in researching before applying. This will start to give you a sense of the community and relationship that the school district has built with its constituents. If the school district is very secretive about their operations, salary and data around achievement, then chances are you don’t want to work there. 

Ultimately, technology can both increase your visibility as well as extend the impact and reach of your work as an educator.

4. Do your homework before relocating.

Moving to another state, or even just a new city, can be overwhelming, especially when you are job seeking. As I mentioned before, do your homework on any organization―whether school, district, or otherwise―you apply to work for. Always read their mission, their results, employee retention or turnover, salary, and benefits. Research how employees feel about a company and if they are satisfied overall. 

Before I relocated to Florida, I tracked the progress of the district to which I was applying for two years because I wanted to be sure that their mission and vision were aligned with mine. While I could not find out about all of the inner workings of this school district, I got a pretty good sense of how they operate by watching their school board meetings broadcasted live on the internet each week. I would read articles on the district and the changes the new superintendent was making to improve the schools. 

Best of luck to you as you pursue the best opportunities for yourself as an educator!

This guest post by Karen Baptiste discusses lessons she shared with educators at the 2015 ASCD Annual Conference in March. This summer, teachers nationwide will have more great opportunities to supercharge their PD and expand and strengthen their PLNs at the ASCD Summer Academies, led by Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Harvey Silver. Learn more about these academies, Connect 21 Camp: Becoming a 21st Century Teacher, Leader, and School and The Strategic Teacher: Developing Every Teacher’s Instructional Know-How.

Karen Baptiste is the Supervisor of Teacher Development in Broward County, Florida and an ASCD Emerging Leader; 4 Tips For Managing Your Career As A Teacher; image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad