Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Ellen Thompson shares views on job placement strategies #teachag #WOWW

Ellen Thompson (@ellencthompson) has been selected to be Penn State Ag Ed Roars! first Words of Wisdom Wednesday participant on this blog. She is the Project Director for the National Teach Ag Campaign and works hard everyday spreading the word that the world NEEDS more agriculture educators to fill our national shortage. Ellen shares today some important strategies that you should consider when looking at open teaching positions in high schools.
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I knew the moment I saw the vacancy post for the Sauk Centre agriculture teacher position that it was the place for me.  I was even more convinced when I walked in the door for my interview.  Eight years later with tear filled eyes I left Sauk Centre to move to South Dakota.  The honor and privilege of being part of that school and community stays with me to this day.  It was the house that built me.  I cannot imagine teaching anywhere else.  
Accepting a teaching position is more than just accepting a job.  You are making a commitment to the mission of the school and developing a connection to the community.    You should feel welcome, excited and at home.  The best way to know if the school is a right fit is to spend some time ahead of the interview on the school website, perusing the local newspaper and dropping in on a few businesses either before or after your interview.  Bring along questions that will help you get to know more about the school.  I recommend these as a starting point…
  • What are you most proud of at your school? 
  • I noticed your graduation rate is higher than the state average, what do you attribute this success to?
  • What do you want the ag program to look like in 5 years? 
  • What is your policy regarding professional development?
  • What would the parents in the community say are the schools greatest assets (also ask some parents the same question if possible)? 
  • What is the new teacher on boarding process? 
Listen carefully to how they respond to these questions.  The answers will tell you what the school values so you know if their values match yours.  As an agriculture education major you are precious commodity and school knows it.  Make sure you start your career off in a school that supports you, challenges you and has similar educational goals.  

To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog!
Olivia Murphy-Sweet
2016 Student Teacher Candidate
Blog Editor

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