Wednesday, September 6, 2017

"Back to School Night" Success for the K-12 Teacher

Calling all Teachers!  As the 2017-2018 school year gets under way, remember to set aside some time to prepare for your Back to School Night/Parent Open House—the success of the evening depends on what you put into it!  This night is designed for parents and teachers to connect and work together for the success of their students.  Many teachers don’t spend enough time thinking about how to use this night to their advantage.  Below are some suggestions to get the most out of your evening!
  • Promote the evening as much as you can.  This is your one chance to get all your parents together in one spot to educate them about your class.  Send notes home in folders, use email and texting options, make sure it’s on your school marquis and if you have the time, call parents to invite them or use robo-calling web resources if your district/school allows it.
  • Make your classroom inviting with student work samples, vocabulary word walls and posters that reinforce your classroom curriculum.  Take the time to straighten and wipe down your desks, empty your trashcan and make your own desk look presentable.  It is always a nice touch to have the students create something for the parents upon their arrival.  A note or drawing from the child to the parents is always a hit.  The reverse also works well---give each parent a post- it-note for them to write their child a note and leave on their desk for the next day.
  • Prepare your attire.  Look like the professional you are.
  • Arrive early so you are not rushed and have time to prepare your materials.  
  • Check your technology if you plan on using it for your presentation. 
  • Prepare your textbooks and classroom resources to show parents how to help their child.
  • Create a parent sign in station to obtain current, accurate parental contact information.  Ask for their email, phone, work phone and inquire about their preferred method of contact.  Consider having a few extras at your sign in station:  Some hand sanitizer, mints or small chocolates, flowers, pen, paper and business cards to make everyone feel welcome.  Likewise, create a “kid station” with some crayons, paper and books for parents who bring their child to your session. This keeps them occupied without disturbing your session.
  • Have your business cards with your contact information available.  If you don’t have business cards, put your information on the board and encourage parents to snap a picture of it with their cell phone for future reference.
  • Have an agenda for yourself of exactly what you want to cover during your session and stick to it. Ask parents to hold their questions until the end so you can cover what you need to.  Be sure to include a little information about yourself and not just your classroom.  
  • Spend some time talking about your grading policy.  Parents want to know how you will assess their child so they can assist at home.  Be sure to include any extra help/tutoring sessions available to them.  If you have an on-line grade book, provide them information on how to set up an account and any tutorials so they can use this resource successfully.
  • Prepare a handout to distribute to parents at the end of your session.  It should contain everything they need to know about your class:  how to contact you, classroom resources, on-line resources, your discipline procedures, your homework policy and anything else unique to your particular classroom.  You could also include important, upcoming dates (testing, field trips, etc.) so parents can block off their own calendars, accordingly.
  • Keep your gradebook/computer closed.  Encourage parents who want to have more in-depth conversations with you to set up a parent-teacher conference at a later date.
  • Compose a thank you email the next day to all parents who attended your session.  Send a different email to all parents who didn’t attend letting them know what you covered and providing them the same information.  Put the handout you created in student folders and include it as an attachment to both emails.  
  • If you are unable to attend Back to School Night, let your parents know through as many communication channels, as possible.  Consider taping an envelope to your door which contains a handout for parents to take in your absence.  If you are able, you could offer to host your own Back to School Night session at a later time at your school or via a web based meeting space.
For other great professional development tips, visit the WGU Career & Professional Development Center and check out Hey Teach!, a digital publication for educators that offers printable materials, advice from veteran teachers, infographics, cartoons, and other cool content and resources.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

LinkedIn’s Top Ten List of Best Locations to Work

LinkedIn’s Workforce Report for June 2017 has identified the top ten cities with the greatest job growth. LinkedIn analyzed 138 million workers in the U.S. who have active profiles and over 20,000 companies that use LinkedIn to recruit talent in addition to other labor sites that research today’s workforce. The following list can help identify localized employment trends to help you with your job search and career management:
  1. Seattle
  2. Denver
  3. Austin
  4. Portland
  5. Charlotte
  6. Tampa/St. Petersburg
  7. West Palm Beach
  8. Nashville
  9. Las Vegas
  10. Dallas-Ft. Worth

Industry hiring is up across the nation in areas such as Business, Healthcare, Finance, Engineering, Technology, Non-Profit, Education, and more!  This is a good time to create or update your own LinkedIn profile. Contact the Career and Professional Development Center for assistance and a review of your LinkedIn account so that you can present the best impression possible. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Emerging Job Market Trends

The world is changing rapidly and as a result, the way employers hire and the expectations of professionals are also changing. Members of NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) recently discussed emerging trends in the workplace and how these trends are impacting both new and seasoned professionals.

Overall, the job outlook has improved. However, competition is still a major factor in the job market so taking steps to make sure that you are enhancing both your job skills and soft skills is a must. One key observation is that professionalism is still a critical career indicator. Research shows that while many graduates are well-educated, there is the perception that they are inadequately trained because of a lack of social skills. Professionalism cannot be neglected as part of the job search and so taking time to understand proper business etiquette can serve you well. The WGU Career & Professional Development Center can help with preparing for job fairs, business mix & mingle events, and networking with potential employers.

Additional insight was provided regarding employer trends including:

  • 53% of employers are concerned about competition for talent
  • 64% of employers prefer to hire people with relevant experience
  • 71% of employers are actively promoting diversity
  • 75% of professionals, typically in mid to high level jobs, identify as passive (not actively seeking a new position) and employers are looking for ways to tap into these candidates
  • Employers are focusing on engaging with talent via social media and technology
  • Employers are proactively managing their brand and want to be identified and recognized as employers of choice
  • Employers are increasing salaries and offering signing bonuses for premium candidates
  • Employers are recruiting via branding and social media, and an increase in video interviewing is starting to emerge 

You have already made a step in the right direction by deciding to pursue and complete your degree. Being aware of the latest career trends can be another helpful resource. We invite you to contact WGU Career & Professional Development to discuss your goals and to begin working on a plan that will help you to stay on top of your career.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

3 Simple Tips to Help Your Teacher Cover Letter Make the Grade

Does the cover letter even matter? Will the hiring manager even read it? Should I spend time and effort in creating another document when I already have my resume?

Well, “yes” is the short answer to all of the above questions. But think about it. Would you pass up an opportunity to discuss your skills and interests directly with the hiring manager of your dream job? Probably not. The cover letter provides a similar opportunity to make a positive first impression, and catch the attention of your potential future employer.

With a few general tips in mind to guide your writing, you can easily get started on creating a cover letter that not only makes the grade, but also helps you stand out as a top candidate. Here are 3 simple suggestions that we think are particularly important:

1. Let me introduce myself (as someone who has done my homework).”

It is not exactly a shocking concept, but notice the emphasis on the word introduce here. Too many cover letters simply repeat what is already stated on the resume. You have the chance to stand out by designing a cover letter that briefly expands upon your qualifications, as they relate specifically to the position of interest. Make your introduction impressive by showing that you have done your homework, and highlight what you have learned about the school or organization. In other words, what is something that you like about the school, or position, and why are you excited about it?

Opening paragraph checklist:
  • Introduce yourself briefly, and include position of interest 
  • Highlight that you have done your research, and share why you are interested in this specific teaching position 
2. “This isn’t about me…it’s about you.”

To be honest, it is about both you and the employer but the emphasis should be on what you can do for them. How can you help support the school’s mission statement, and help them reach their goals?  Based on your review of the job description and school, what do you believe are the most important aspects of this specific teaching position? What does this school really value? Stand out by sharing how your background and skills could potentially help the employer achieve their goals.

Middle paragraph(s) checklist:
  • Include 1 or 2 middle paragraphs that highlight how your qualifications make you uniquely prepared to help the school or organization achieve success
  • Focus on specific experiences and skills, rather than colleges/universities that you have attended
3. “I am excited about this position, and I would love to share more!”

Your enthusiasm about this specific position should be clear. Summarize your interest again, provide your preferred contact information, and request an opportunity to share more about yourself in person. After all, the ultimate goal of the cover letter is to help you stand out, and to land that interview. So ask for it!

Closing paragraph checklist:
  • Restate your interest in the position
  • Thank the employer for their time and consideration
  • Offer to interview at the employer’s convenience
  • Refrain from telling the employer that you will contact them to schedule an interview
  • Include your preferred contact information
  • Keep your cover letter to one page, and use professional formatting (See Cover Letter Guidelines for sample formatting and additional tips)
Use this set of recommendations to help stimulate your writing, but also don’t forget about your own message. We all have individual strengths and experiences that we bring with us to any position. Make sure to take the opportunity to make the cover letter your own!

For more help with cover letter writing, be sure to review the Cover Letter Resources on the WGU Career & Professional Development website. Once you create your letter, feel free to send us a draft for review (email your attached cover letter in Microsoft Word format to We are here to help!