Greetings! I’d like to welcome all of you who are currently applying for jobs in education and wish you the best of luck. My name is Steve and I am the host here at Teach42.

A few years ago, I wrote a post last year about how surprised I was that so many people arrived at my blog by doing a search for the question “Describe the skills or attributes you believe are necessary to be an outstanding teacher.” I didn’t really think about it at the time, but that post had all the right keywords, and now when you do a Google search for that phrase, Teach42 is both number three and number four! So I thought I’d put up a new post this year, both to try to lock in the number one slot and to also offer some advice to all of you that are doing these searches.

First of all, I do understand why you’re doing the search. You are passionate, you have the skills, you KNOW you’ll make a great teacher. But how do you get your foot in the door when all you have are those silly short answer questions? And also, while you may make an amazing teacher, maybe you aren’t the most eloquent writer. Surely somebody has come up with a great answer to that fairly generic question already, and you can just ‘borrow’ from their answer, right?

I have two thoughts on this. The first is that you aren’t alone. I’m getting hundreds of hits per month on this site alone from people who are arriving here by searching those terms. They’re all finding the same responses that you are and I’d imagine many of them are basing their answers on them. Now, just imagine that you’re the one who is reviewing applications from people and reading hundreds of responses to this question. They’re going to recognize those responses from people who grabbed their answers from Google and Yahoo. So by ‘borrowing’ from there, you’re doing yourself more harm than good. Instead of getting a solid, thoughtful, insightful answer, you’re getting the same answers that thousands of other people are putting on their application. That won’t help you land that job!

The second thought is that maybe you really will find something that genuinely vibes with you. The perfect answer that describes just how you feel about outstanding teachers. Exactly what you need to base your answer on. Do you plan to cite it? If not, why not? Isn’t that what an outstanding teacher would do? I strongly suggest that if you do find something on the internet that you plan to use, do the smart thing and give that person credit. Go ahead, use a direct quote. Nobody ever said that you can’t include footnotes in those essay questions. Don’t start your career with a minor in plagiarism. If you’re going to do any ‘borrowing’, do a 180 and turn it into actual research instead. Give credit where credit is due.

That’s it for this year. I hope that you find the perfect job for you to start (or continue) your educational career and spend many many years doing the most rewarding job in the world. Not monetarily of course, but those vacations sure are nice (boy do I miss those).

Good luck!

Updated with Wordle of this post. Thanks Cathy!