March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Decisions, Decisions, Part 3 – The Offer

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Rick Pomeroy

You have done your research, you had a great interview, and now it is time to wait. Hopefully, the wait is not too long but any time at all will seem like an eternity. During this time, it is important for you to consider your options and be prepared with your answer.

Going into the job search, you must understand that there are two players in the job search-job offer game. You are looking for a place to launch your career. It is critical that it be a position where you will have an opportunity to grow as a teacher. You will need to feel like you are a part of the faculty and wanted as part of the staff. On the other hand, the principal is working hard to fill a position(s) with the most highly qualified teacher. It is critical to them that the person they select has the credentials to teach the classes they need, the skills to do the job effectively, and a person who will become part of their school team.  In most cases, they are looking for a new teacher to fill a particular need, whether it is replacing the beloved retiring teacher or a teacher that was ineffective in the classroom. Either way, they are investing time and energy in selecting the best candidate before that person is snapped up by another district.

When an offer is made, the principal or administrator wants a response right away. They want to believe that you are as excited about joining their team as they are about making you the offer. When they call, some want an answer during that phone call. Others recognize the significance of this decision and may offer you a day or two to consider their offer. Either way, you should be ready with your decision when the offer is made. If they give you some time to respond, you need to do them the courtesy of meeting their time frame. If you know that this is the job you want, don’t put them off waiting to see what others will say. On the other hand, if you know it is not the job for you, be ready to decline and move forward. If you need time to decide, it should be time for really thinking about the job that is offered rather than waiting to see what someone else is going to offer. You want to be sure that this is the right position for you. You may have applied to several positions, some as your dream job and others as a “safe” backup. Nothing could be more nerve racking. Do I take the first job that is offered, or do I hold out for the job I really want? No one can tell you what decision to make. Location, subject, grade-level, school calendar, even the bell schedule might influence your decision but these are all things you can include in your research in preparation for your response.

By the time an offer is made, you should know if a job/district is a fit for your skills and desires. The interview should have given you some insights about the people you would be working with and a visit to the school and community, hopefully arranged before the offer, should equip you with the information you need to determine your response. Given the need for science teachers, there will be many jobs available in the coming hiring cycle. Some will be perfect, some will be a good fit, and some will miss the mark. Your task is to figure that out.

Over the past twenty years, I have mentored over 300 new science teachers. During that time, 100% of those students who wanted to teach got a job before the start of the school year. They took jobs in small rural and large urban districts, public schools charter schools and private schools, high schools, middle schools, even some science specialists in elementary schools and outdoor education programs. Some are in Northern California, some in Southern California, some are out of state and a few in other countries. Many made choices that I might have been able to predict. Based on their experiences in student teaching, I would call those “safe choices”. Others took jobs I would never have foreseen. Some are still in the jobs they took right out of their credential programs and others have relocated, changed grade levels or even subject matter. Some left teaching to pursue other interests and have since returned to the classroom, while some left for other career options both in education and out. When I run into these past students, often in some of the most out of the way places, the common theme of our conversation is that their first jobs were very important in helping them determine their ultimate career path. Each one has said that the things they learned in that first job gave them insights about teaching that student teaching and all of the credential classes never could have covered.

Going forward, the decision you make about your first job is critical and should not be taken lightly, but it is not the last job decision of your career. Do your homework, know the positives and negatives about each potential job you are applying for and be willing to consider the offers when they come in. You do not have to accept the first offer made but you should know why you make that decision. Once made, embrace it going forward. Never second-guess yourself about your choice during your first year. If the job turns out to be a mismatch for you, there will be other jobs available in future years. If it is a good match, grow in the job and embrace everything you are learning. Every day in the classroom gives you a little more experience and a new set of skills. Your growth as a teacher should be a life-long process. Enjoy it!

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

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