This is the season that schools begin to plan for staffing for the upcoming school year. This article features tips to enhancing your professional skills so you are ready to apply and interview for that job you want.
First off, let’s discuss your level of professionalism. Do you identify with this picture?
If so, you are probably not what employers are looking for. Your work with children in a Montessori setting will require you to wear many hats, and tackle a wide variety of challenges from one day to the next. We all need to willingly embrace many tasks that might not fall under the traditional job description of Montessori guide.
Let’s talk about your resume
Think about updating your resume, especially if you have been at your current job for longer than a year, you are fresh out of Montessori Teacher Training, or you have not had a job in over a year. You can search the web for tips on how to build your resume by typing in a search engine “resume builder”. Those free sites can help with general formatting and headings. Here are a few things to include related to the content:
- Professional philosophy-in your cover letter, try to let your personality shine through while you discuss your philosophy on education and Montessori and the spirit of the child. Include a few personal interests. I think it’s important to highlight aspects important to being a teacher such as flexibility, following the child, and maintaining professional boundaries.
- Try to keep things concise and direct, but with a warm voice in your writing. Many employers do not want to read a lengthy bio about your life, so your philosophy should be limited in personal information, but enough to express how it lead you to Montessori.
- Have a professional email!! Emails such as hotpinklady@…..com or bikerchick2019@….com If you only have your email account you set up as a teenager, look into updating. Let this be the time to start your professional career with a fresh new email that can be used for professional communications.
- Enhance your resume by listing qualities or responsibilities. Job roles and responsibilities can look very different from one school to the next. For example, rather than just stating “assistant teacher” as your position, add to that. What types of responsibilities did you have? What aspects of the environment did you prepare or maintain? What classroom management did you exhibit? What type of collaboration did you have with the lead teacher or other staff? What activities did you help coordinate?
- Make sure to include any Montessori training you have received under the education heading of your resume. List the name of the training center where you studied, the level for which you earned the diploma or certificate, and the year that you completed the training.
- Make it clear that you are willing (or not) to relocate. If you’re applying for a job where you do not currently reside, ask or offer the option to conduct interviews via phone or virtual meetings such as Skype or Zoom.
- Finally, keep in mind that not all schools publicize openings they will have for teaching positions. We encourage you to send your resume and letter of interest to any school that you are interested in, even if you don’t see an official job listing.
Preparing for an interview
Once you have “wowed” the employer with your impressive resume and have been contacted to schedule an interview, here are a few things to think about when preparing and engaging in your interview:
- Do some research about the school. What do you know about it already? What else can you find out about it?
- Prepare a list of questions related to things such as, but not limited to, salary ranges, opportunities for growth, on-going professional development, support in the classroom, number of children in the classroom and their ages, yearly budgets for replenishing supplies in the classroom, expectations regarding material making, who the classroom assistant will be, hourly expectations outside of the school day.
At the Interview
Now is your time to shine. You may look good on paper, but remember you have to show you can back that up with your knowledge and professionalism.
- Grace and Courtesy: Whether it be when interacting with children or your future employer, always maintain a positive attitude, warmth, and approachability.
- While years of experience are certainly preferred by many school directors, do not let this discourage you if you are fresh out of teacher-training. Begin that interview with an eagerness to learn and excitement for the work.
- If you are going to throw out Montessori “buzz words” be sure you know what they mean or have practical examples that support your knowledge.
- Ask to observe the classroom or an environment at the school. This will help you get an understanding of the culture of the school and determine if this is a good fit for you.
Just a note about professional dress and presence at the interview and in your ongoing work in the classroom. Professional dress is relative to the field, culture of the organization, and demographics of the families or individuals you work with. These standards apply to the classroom as well as during your first contact or interview with the school. In a school setting working with young children, remember that their heads only reach about the height of your hip. Consider your attire, knowing that you will be bending down, sitting on the floor, and engaging in many movement activities. Here’s a list to begin with:
- Avoid short skirts or low-cut tops. Consider these little humans and their eye levels.
- Refrain from wearing bulky or noisy jewelry that will be a distraction to the children.
- Be comfortable, but not sloppy-We are encouraging children to practice good grooming habits. Adults need to model this. Mario Montessori stated, “Teachers must actively strive to establish a positive relationship so that children will approach them with confidence and accept their authority as a matter of course. In order to do this, they should make themselves as attractive as they can, not only in appearance, but as a source of new, happy experiences.” (Mario Montessori, Education for the Human Development: Understanding Montessori, p. 25).
To start your search of Montessori job positions currently available, visit our SIMS jobs board.
To post a Montessori job at your school, click here: Post it on SIMS Jobs Board.
Your next job, or next Montessori employee, could be just one click away!
*Disclaimer: The tips provided in this post do not guarantee employment.
About the author:
Tiffany Liddell is currently an AMI Primary Trainer residing in Mesa, Arizona. She completed her AMI Primary Training in 2006 and has since been a lead Montessori Primary guide in a charter school and her own private preschool. She has been an active member of the Phoenix area Early Childhood community by facilitating professional development workshops and developing curriculum for a local community college. Tiffany also supports the Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies (SIMS) Primary training courses as a course assistant and works with AMI on specialized projects. Tiffany has been married to her husband for 13 years and has four children who all attended (of which two still attend) Montessori school and, in her spare time, enjoys cycling in the Arizona desert.