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7 Tips to Take You from Student Teacher to Full-Time Hire

A young teacher sitting in front of her classroom of children.

The path from student teacher to full-time hire isn't always a direct one. Taking a few steps can make you a shoo-in.

One of the best ways to get a teaching job is to parlay your work as a student teacher into a full-time gig. I knew right away when I student-taught at a high school near my home that I wanted to teach at that school. I did everything I could to get hired: I got to know the school's culture, formed relationships with colleagues, and paid attention to school initiatives.

I spoke with several teachers who leveraged their student teaching experiences to land full-time teaching positions. Here's what they said.

1. Listen to Your Cooperating Teacher

Your cooperating teacher knows the ropes. They understand the written and unwritten rules of the school, and they know the school's culture. They can be the single greatest resource that you have, and they can provide endless mentorship and advice. So pay attention to them.

My own mentor, Annette DiMasi, was invaluable. She helped me establish the correct balance between respect and authority in the classroom. Ask questions and listen to learn all that you can.

2. Tune In to Your School's Issues and Plans

Your school might be concentrating on several initiatives. It might be working to ensure that classes are student-centered. It might be implementing blended learning or restorative justice programs. Find out what your school is focusing on and become an expert in it. Chances are that you'll be asked about how you'd implement those strategies in your classroom in an interview. Brush up on the topics du jour, and you'll be ready for those questions.

Further Reading: Will There Be Teaching Jobs When Schools Reopen?

3. Fill a Need

One way of increasing your odds of landing a full-time teaching job? Seizing opportunities when you see them. When he was student teaching in my school's English department, my colleague Evan heard that our school would be looking for a teacher who held certifications in English language arts and history. So Evan set his sights on and quickly received his dual certification, and when the job was posted, he coasted right into it.

Pay attention to what your school needs, and see how you can turn yourself into the solution. A special education certification or English language–learning competency can also increase your chances of securing a position.

4. Make Yourself Useful

When my colleague Marcus was a student teacher, he showed up on time every day. He volunteered for everything that he could. He attended sporting events and student performances. At the end of his student teaching tenure, he stayed on as a substitute teacher.

When Marcus applied for a full-time position, I was part of the team that interviewed him, and it was clear that he'd quickly become a valued member of our school's community. Because he had so ingrained himself, he quickly rose above the other applicants and received an offer.

5. Be Collegial with Your Fellow Teachers

Getting along with the people you'll be working with probably won't guarantee you'll land a full-time job, but it certainly can't hurt. When Parker was a student teacher at my school, she formed a strong bond with her fellow math teachers by frequently eating lunch with them. Parker knew that schools assess whether a student teacher is going to fit in with the culture and community of the school, so she was always friendly and helpful. When it came time for the math department to hire another teacher, Parker's colleagues were happy to recommend her because they knew she'd be a great addition to the team.

6. Form Appropriate Relationships with the Students

Student teachers are usually only a few years older than their students. You should, of course, be friendly and build trust with your students, but be sure to clearly distinguish yourself as the authority in the room. Proceed cautiously with any individual relationships you form, be aware of how those relationships might be perceived by students and coworkers, and act accordingly.

7. Participate—Respectfully

If you can, participate in a professional development group during your student teaching time—you can learn a lot from your fellow teachers. Listen and contribute, but do so respectfully. I once watched a student teacher tell a veteran teacher how she should teach her class. As well-meaning as she might have been, other teachers found her comment presumptuous.

Further Reading: How to Become a Teacher: 5 Things Student Teachers Should Know

Student teaching is an incredible opportunity for new teachers to display their talents and join their host school's community—and get positioned for a full-time teaching job. If you implement these suggestions, you can make getting that full-time teaching offer that much easier.