Disclaimer: The anecdotals and suggestions are offered freely by UFT members. We understand that all situations are different and similar results are not guaranteed if you follow all guidance listed below.
Dear Member Support: I am trying to transfer out of my toxic school. I’ve been trying to get out for a few years but when I apply to openings on Open Market, I get no replies! The UFT simply tells me to “Check Open Market daily.” What else can I do?
Does this sound familiar?
At one point or another in your career you may find the need to transfer schools, a process that thanks to the loss of seniority transfers (thanks a lot Unity Caucus and Randi!) has become increasingly difficult especially if you are high up in the salary schedule. There is no magic bullet UFT Solidarity has that can plant all our members in supportive schools; plus, the Caring Administrators Do Exist list is not extensive. We decided to poll our members to get their ideas and tips on how they were able to find new schools to work in. Our sources range in experience from third year previously discontinued probationers to twenty-two year tenured veteran educators. We know that all situations differ and that none of these tips are guarantees that you will be able to land in your dream school; however, we hope that you will find these suggestions useful as you begin your job hunt.
Make a List of Schools Early On: When Howard L (not real name), first applied to NYC DOE schools via the New Teacher Finder in 2012, he remembered listening to a webinar and recalls the following guidance, “Using independent websites [like Insideschools.org] and the NYC DOE district maps, make a list of 100-150 schools you want to work in. Divide the list into three categories: dream schools, good schools, and ‘well-if-I-have-to-work-there’ schools. Then, begin to research interesting information about the schools- vision statements, special programs, philosophy, community partnerships. If the school has something that pulls at your heart or interests you, apply there.” Open Market does not go live until April and openings don’t get posted until June; however, many schools conceal openings due to budgetary or sensitive personnel matters. It doesn’t hurt making your list and begin reaching out to principals in mid-March.
Pay A Professional to Revise Resume: Hilary A. (not her real name), a Common Branches teacher with eight years teaching experience, was feeling discouraged because her salary step was above step 8 with MA+30. While this might not be feasible for everyone, Hilary paid a professional career coach to have her resume reviewed and revamped. To get the name of the vendor Hilary and other UFT members used, please send us an email to email@example.com.
Having a strong resume is super important. Franklin A, a 14 year Social Studies educator says: “If a resume shows that you can do a lot, that a principal can rely on you to jump in and cover classes, take on electives, and help other teachers that makes you invaluable. You doing behind the scenes work like writing curricula, administrative things like data analysis and COSA, field trip coordinating, mentoring others, leading departments or restorative justice, and skills like speaking a foreign language that many students speak are also important to add to resumes. These are what principals want to see. I’ve been on enough hiring committees and been to enough hiring fairs tasked with finding good people to know this.”
Personalize Your Cover Letter: Cover letters are still in vogue in the DOE. Many principals will not look at your resume if you do not include a personalized cover letter. If you have the money, you could invest in a professional to help you with writing your cover letter for you. But if you have a few hours to spare, it is relatively easy to bang out a draft of a cover letter you can use and re-use with minor tweaks for different schools. The Job Network has a excellent check-list for writing a teacher cover letter (see link here).
Howard L.* would review school websites and the DOE webpages for each school and jot down interesting programs and initiatives schools had. Howard then would connect his prior work experiences to specific programs in each school he planned to apply to or interview at.
Do Your Homework: Once you have your fabulous resume, personalized cover letters, and you have your list of schools to apply to, look up the phone number of the school and call to get the name and contact info of the person who has the task of collecting resumes for job openings. As Hilary A discovered, “often it’s not always the principal!” Once you find out the name and email of that person, send your cover letter and resume to their DOE email using your DOE email (so you don’t land in their spam or junk mail inbox). Remember not all openings get posted on Open Market! Do not simply apply via Open Market and expect to get hired or even an interview by just applying on Open Market.
Preparing your Elevator Pitch: Think about a 30 second elevator pitch that summarizes who you are as an educator, memorize it, own it, and be prepared to say it at interviews and informational meetings. Hilary says, “The biggest thing that got me noticed was showing my face at the schools I really wanted to work at. I also pre-rehearsed my 30 second elevator pitch about who I was and what I had to offer, after delivering my resume. Sometimes principals asked follow-up questions, sometimes they they didn’t and showed me the door.”
Franklin also adds: “I am passionate about the job and demonstrate my passion with my words, tone, and demeanor. I show tons of emotional connection to this work in interviews. I am keenly aware of the social-emotional, systemic oppression, and logistical hurdles out students might go through, and I speak to all of that in interviews.”
Social Media: How do you find jobs if there is nothing on Open Market? Create a free profile on LinkedIn and follow administrators from the schools you want to apply to. Many administrators post openings at their schools on LinkedIn. You should also make sure you are members of the Facebook groups Teachers Helping Teachers Grow, NYC DOE Teachers Only, and Hunter College School of Education Career Services. These groups frequently post job openings, job fairs, and you will often see sample interview questions posted by members. Twitter is another social network you can try to make connections with principals. Formerly discontinued Special Educator Gordon K (not real name) is active on Twitter and tweets about education. He was able to make connections with many administrators and was able to land a new position last summer. When we asked him what his “secret” was, he mentioned Twitter.
Leverage your network: Don’t burn bridges or lose contact with colleagues. If you go on an out-of-the-building PD, talk to others and exchange emails with them. Connect with the workshop facilitators because they might have a hook up at another school; if you don’t tell them you are looking, they won’t tell you about an opening at another school they work with. If you score state exams, make contact with other teachers who are grading the exams. Don’t be shy about emailing people and explaining that you are seeking a new venture and that you’d appreciate any leads. Martin M, experienced ENL teacher, did just that and was able to use his networks to get several interviews and a job offer in Summer 2018.
Follow personal school or network websites: Many schools have their own websites by WordPress, eChalk, or another vendor where they post specific information and often job openings. Do a quick Google search for each school you plan to apply to and bookmark the school’s personal website; that way if they post “Career Opportunities,” you will be one of the first to know. Several other networks we recommend you bookmarking include: NYC Outward Bound Schools and NY Performance Consortium Schools.