Yesterday I had my first job fair. It was incredibly exciting, a little nerve-wracking, and, generally, exhausting. The process reminded me a lot of what I experience my freshman year at the University of Michigan going through the sorority rush. Recognizing the similarity actually put me at ease. I felt like I had done this before and knew that things work out for the best if I am genuine, ask the right questions, and follow my gut as to what district would work the best for me.
I think one key to the job fair was listening to how recruiters portrayed their school district. It was interesting to see which aspects of district recruiters had determined most important in drawing top candidates and if these points aligned with the school’s mission statement. Further, it was very interesting to note which districts wanted me to sell myself, which districts were trying to sell their self to me, and which districts were somewhere in the middle.
My best experiences during the job fair were ones where I could have a genuine conversation. I wanted to know why someone felt their district was the best. However, I also wanted to know that the district wanted teachers who would work well in their district. I loved being able to talk with folks about what makes them passionate about their home. The points that different people chose to discuss and the ways in which the conversation flowed provided a good introductory picture of the values of their school community.
When I was a freshman, I was looking for a place to call home. I was looking for a group of people who had formed a community with similar values and who invested time in activities that were important to me. Most importantly, I was looking for a group of people with whom I felt a genuine connection. Things worked out great for me in rush. I joined a house that had a high expectation of academic excellence and community involvement. It was a house that valued diversity and encouraged the members to be a part of the sorority community as well as the greater university community. The majority of my best friends today are women I met through my house. What makes these women so special to me cannot really be put into words, but there are three main points. First, we genuinely cared for each other. Second, we all strove to be the best that we could be. Third, we all followed our own path. Each of us had many friends outside of the sorority house. Everyone had different passions and goals that we followed and are still following today. So, at the end of the day, I was part of group that not only valued each other and our relationships, but each other’s individual pursuits. We had and still have so many great conversations about things from so many different points of view. I think the respect we have for our differences as well as our common values has made our friendships continue to be so strong today.
As I search for a new place to call home, I want to make sure that my values align with the district values. I want to makes sure that I can provide evidence of how I accomplished goals and how I continue to improve as a teacher. I also want to make sure the district has real programs or artifacts available that prove the school truly does embody their mission statement. Finally, I want to make sure I find a community where I can continue to have such genuine, worthwhile conversations with enthusiastic, passionate individuals.
Having the opportunity to discuss a school district or a community with recruiters was priceless. I gained an important, human aspect that websites cannot offer. It was pretty easy for me to gage the districts that would be a good fit for me. I left those recruiters feeling a tingling in my stomach and a grin from ear to ear. I know this is only the beginning of the process, but the job fair made me extremely excited about some really great school districts and communities.