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Faculty Interview

Name: Shelley Berken
Position: C&I Instructor
Employer: College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota

Please describe your past experience working in the schools.
For 26 years I have taught or been a public school administrator in Elementary or Middle Schools in both St. Paul and Minneapolis. The last 12 of those years were spent as a school administrator in the Minneapolis Public Schools. I began my career as an Elementary Special Education teacher, then moved to teaching a variety of grades as a regular education teacher. Some of my positions included Title One Teacher, Program Resource Teacher and Behavior Resource Teacher. I have had the privilege of being part of starting two new schools in the Minneapolis Public Schools; one a Middle School, the other an Elementary Math, Science, Technology Elementary School. As you can see, it's important to be flexible and creative in the education profession.

In this competitive teacher job market, how can applicants stand out during the application and interview process?

Given our competitive job market, as a recent education graduate, you want to show that you have a variety of experiences such as volunteering in schools and other youth-serving agencies. Knowledge of the community and school at which you are applying is an advantage because it shows that you have taken the initiative to learn about the program. It is important to show that you are able to discuss assessment data and how you would address the academic needs of the school.

During the interview, present yourself professionally in the way you dress as well as in your interpersonal manner. The old saying is true; first impressions do matter. Bring enough resumes for everyone who might be at the interview. Create a professional portfolio of your education and experience to share with the interview committee. Make eye-contact with each person during your interview, speak clearly and with confidence. If you donʼt know the answer, say so and add that you would be interested in learning more about the topic. Whenever possible, relate your answers to your own experience.

How do you recommend our students speak about having their masters degree, or credits toward their masters degree, during their job search?
If you have an advanced degree, donʼt try to hide it. Your education illustrates your dedication to your profession, represents you as a life-long learner and is an example to which your students can aspire. During the interview, you can discuss your motivation to pursue advanced degrees and the advantages you see to having them.

What qualities do employers appreciate most in new teachers?
Drive, enthusiasm, eagerness to learn, self-reflection along with the ability to collaborate are qualities that impress employers. Education is a profession that demands ongoing professional development and energy. Your students and their families will demand and deserve only the highest quality of performance from you.

Please share any advice you have for students entering the teaching profession.
As you know, education is the most important profession you can choose because you are preparing future generations to lead and move our country and the world forward. Teaching is hard work, exhausting and exhilarating beyond words.

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