Am I on the right track here?

This is the new version of the Alaska Teacher Placement (ATP) forum for teachers, education majors, and school administrators to discuss working and living in the state of Alaska. Those considering an Alaskan job, or considering a new Alaskan education job ask questions, and those with information and/or opinions provide answers. Although many users are teacher or principal candidates from the Lower 48, a large number of current and former school district HR and school administrators subscribe.

Moderators: Johncn, Damon Hargraves, Betty Walters, Toni McFadden

Am I on the right track here?

Postby Offgrid505 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:15 pm

Hello everybody,

I hope your holidays went well and your new year is off to a good start.

I am writing this as my first post because I'm sort of confused. I am in the process of trying to get a job in Alaska for the 2017/18 (and hopefully much longer) school year. Getting jobs in Alaska seems vastly different than it is in my home state. Basically where I'm from, they are in serious need of teachers so if you have the state license it's as simple as getting online, looking at the available jobs and applying/sending in resumes etc. most people get picked up within a week granted they have their licensure and background check stuff in order.

So where I'm at now, I have applied for the initial teaching license in Alaska (licensed in another state) and I've gotten my basic skills test stuff sorted out and got my yellow card so basically waiting for the background check to happen (no worries here) and given the 120 day range they say, looks like February sometime I should get that.

Now, if I'm correct (and please correct me if I'm not) I should finish my online application, then start applying and sending off resumes to places I'm interested in and then sort of wait until hiring season starts. Is that about right? Or am I missing something?

Also as far as endorsements I have a science endorsement as well as an elementary endorsement, is one more likely to get me a job than another? I'm unfamiliar with alaskas needs.

From what I can tell, it looks like getting in somewhere other than the "bush" is unlikely for a teacher New to the state who dosent have a masters degree in something in high need like special education, this is ok with me. I guess second question is in regards to my wife who will be moving with me, is it possible/likely my wife would be able to get a job as a teachers aid or something like this at a school? And what other possibilities for income are there in these small places for the wife of a teacher? Also my wife would like to attend nursing school or something like that so hopefully I can get a position somewhere near a community college like bethel or something. Is this likely?

Sorry for the long post, I hope somebody is reading and can give me some advice or stories or opinions. This message board dosent seem very active which is a shame.

One last question, how much of a demand is there really for teachers in Alaska??? I see they do several job fairs across the country which I've never really seen happen before other than nearby states at local job fairs (for example, in New Mexico we would often see schools from Texas and Arizona). I mean you don't see say...Florida public schools doing job fairs specifically for them across the country.

Thanks again, looking forward to making contact with somebody, anybodybhere!!!

Have a great day!!!
Offgrid505
 
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Re: Am I on the right track here?

Postby Johncn » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:09 am

Hello,

Welcome to the ATP Forum. I will try to break this down into individual questions and responses. Most of what I contribute will assume you are interested in rural positions (off the road system), and may NOT apply to the larger districts connected by concrete and ferry: Anchorage, Mat Su, Kenai, Fairbanks and Juneau. Those districts have totally different expectations about their HR process and you need to see their individual Applitrack job posting sites for details on what the timing and requirements might be.

Now, if I'm correct (and please correct me if I'm not) I should finish my online application, then start applying and sending off resumes to places I'm interested in and then sort of wait until hiring season starts. Is that about right? Or am I missing something?

You can start applying now for rural positions, and don't have to wait until you have everything in place. Districts want to know you are very likely "certifiable" in your content areas to take you seriously, but it sounds like you are ahead of the average curve with a yellow card the first week of 2017. ;-) Most districts have an "idea" what they will need next year in January, but may not have specific openings in most cases until a 30 to 60 days later. That does not mean they can't start interviewing, and some do. It also is a good time for you to be establishing contacts with the districts you are most interested in, while also keeping an open mind as actual jobs begin to get posted.

My wife and I always recommend that candidates research districts and locations, send a cover letter email with a resume to the districts that seem most attractive, and then follow up with them regularly to show continued interest in a polite but insistent fashion. This effort should be by all available means: email, phone contacts with HR staff or recruiters, social media accounts if you have a connection with someone at a district. When specific openings are posted that you are interested in, then yes, you should also follow up individually for each of those, too. Positions are starting to post now for next year and the pace will only increase as districts final contracts for tenured staff, then non-tenured staff and finalize budgets. All of these processes are on slightly different schedules for each district.

The ATP Job Fairs are very nice to access if they are in your area, as they bring numerous districts together with hiring in mind, and positions in hand...but even if you plan to attend one, don't wait to pursue jobs prior to those events. The job in the hand is better than the one which might not be available when the job fair comes around. ;-)

Also as far as endorsements I have a science endorsement as well as an elementary endorsement, is one more likely to get me a job than another? I'm unfamiliar with alaskas needs.

Alaska's needs vary by district, but certainly there are jobs both in Elementary and Science that are filled each year between now and summer. If you certifications are grade level specific, that is going to somewhat drive your appeal. States are using increasing narrow grade bands or ranges in certification, and they vary widely by state and teacher preparation program. What used to be a "K-8" or "K-6" certificate in Elementary Education might now be only be good for K-2 / 2-4 / 1-3 / 4-6 and so on...depending on which state and which university the teacher went to. This poses a significant challenge to rural schools because the grade levels their jobs are in are rarely in those same bands, and may change year to year at the same school. Districts (and the state) allow teachers to work out of their certified range, but TRY to keep it as close as possible. The wider the RANGE of grades you can convince a district you are qualified to teach, the more marketable you are likely to be.

If the Science is only for Elementary, in Alaska that could make you very marketable as a Middle School Generalist (6-8), or Upper Elementary (4-6) teacher with content area focus in science. Often, districts like to put teachers in a small school who have complementary subject areas and grade levels. Most districts consider anything in K-8 as "Elementary", and love to find subject area specialists that have both certifications. If not, and the Science is "Secondary" education it is usually considered 7-12 (I know...there is overlap!), rural districts are going to be more likely to view you as a "Science" content area teacher. There is a relative shortage of Science certified teachers as compared to Elementary certified teachers. You may also be attractive as a "Multigrade" teacher in a small school teaching multiple subject areas and grade levels.

I guess second question is in regards to my wife who will be moving with me, is it possible/likely my wife would be able to get a job as a teachers aid or something like this at a school? And what other possibilities for income are there in these small places for the wife of a teacher? Also my wife would like to attend nursing school or something like that so hopefully I can get a position somewhere near a community college like bethel or something. Is this likely?

Remember that districts are interviewing YOU, and will not be able to guarantee your wife a position. You should, however, let them know you are coming with a significant other, and also give them an indication that she may need or want employment. You can also ask them what opportunities exist in Village X, but I would wait until the conversation is about a specific location, not in general.

You don't mention what her background is, but if she has a college degree, districts may view her as a good substitute teacher for the community. However, that may vary by district and location. I know in most of the larger Bush communities that reliable, flexible individuals with a degree in almost any field are valued and can find work. It may not be right away, and the district may or may not be able to give hints of what is likely to be available - see my first comment about their only responsibility being your role, and the only "commitment" you should count on is your own job offer as a certified teacher. They may mean well, but anything they tell you about spouse employment is going to be an educated guess, not a promise.

As far as Nursing school goes, you are in luck. Nursing shortages in Alaska have prompted the university system to develop excellent distance education programs for certification in rural areas. Much of the instruction is by distance learning, including two-way video conferencing, and clinical experiences can frequently be done in regional "hub" communities with clinics and hospitals. The regional health organizations recruit actively for nurses, and there are often attractive benefit packages once someone reaches RN status.

University of Alaska Distance Learning Programs
https://distance.alaska.edu/programs/

University of Alaska - Distance Nursing Program Link
https://catalog.uaa.alaska.edu/undergra ... urseoption

One last question, how much of a demand is there really for teachers in Alaska??? I see they do several job fairs across the country which I've never really seen happen before other than nearby states at local job fairs (for example, in New Mexico we would often see schools from Texas and Arizona). I mean you don't see say...Florida public schools doing job fairs specifically for them across the country.

There is a significant shortage of teachers in rural Alaska. You are incorrect about not seeing other places recruit "on the road". I am a recruiter, and I see Florida public school recruiters at MANY teacher job fairs in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York to name a few. I've seen school district recruiting booths from a variety of areas at national conferences for Special Ed teachers in San Diego, Nashville, Seattle and other locations. Districts around the country with shortages, including many from Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, South Carolina and other locations recruit "year round" now. Honest. ;-)

Hope this helps,

John
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Re: Am I on the right track here?

Postby Offgrid505 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:31 am

Hi John,

Thanks for taking the time to write up that detailed response, I really appreciate it. The more I look into things, I think I would prefer a "hub" village, honestly I'd like to live in Fairbanks or somewhere on the Kenai peninsula but those seem like very desirable locations and from what I've read can be harder to find work in.

I guess what I'll do now is start doing lots of research and sending resumes etc to be departments that I'd possibly be interested in. With the whole yellow card thing, it said I needed to take the basic test but I've since gotten that taken care of, the staff in Juneau was incredibly helpful getting all that sorted out so I guess they will give me a 1 year extension, then I can take the approved Alaska studies courses to get the 3rd year.

As for my wife, sorry I didn't mean to make it sound like I'd ask a potential employer to hire her, it was more of a general question of finding work for her in such an area, I'm sure she wouldn't be happy just hanging out all day while I was working. She does have a 4 year degree but not in education. Thank you also for the links to the distance learning programs, that's actually really cool, I guess our long term goal is for my wife to become a nurse and for me to get my masters degree either in curriculum or special education then see where that takes us.

As for the comment about Florida schools I just meant it as an example as I'd never really seen that before, coming from New Mexico I'd really only seen neighboring states at the job fairs I attended but that was just 1 or 2 and it was years ago.

So:
-research areas
-make contacts
-keep working on the resume
-keep my fingers crossed.

Again john, thank you very much I really appreciate your response.
Offgrid505
 
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Re: Am I on the right track here?

Postby Johncn » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:46 am

Hello,

Glad to help. That's what this forum is for. Your questions were by no means unusual. You've got lots of things pointing to being marketable. Your wife stands a very good chance of being able to keep busy with subbing work in rural villages, and the nursing degree looks to be doable given Alaska's programs to facilitate rural nursing candidates. Some candidates expect school districts to assist with or provide housing for non-certified significant others based on conversations during interviews, and then feel let down if they get there, and it takes a while to find something. Rural employment for spouses varies widely by village composition, local needs at that specific time, and sometimes local politics. I just wanted to make sure you didn't have unrealistic expectations about how much districts could promise, and it sounds like you don't.

I would not rule out more remote locations....keep an open mind. A rural hub community would be a good choice for you two, but a year or two in a village to gain perspective and experience. Teaching experience in a village could really help with landing a road system job later, and your wife's other goals could be met, I think, as well as your own, in many Bush villages.

As you continue your research and job search, we hope you'll continue to pose questions here. There are many readers with diverse experiences and opinions that can help you narrow your focus more. Happy hunting.

Regards,

John
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Re: Am I on the right track here?

Postby Offgrid505 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:41 am

Hi John,

I'm making this post to thank you, while I do t have a jibe lined up yet, I have some interest from a few places after following your advice. I really want to thank you because before posting here I really had no idea how things work, now I'm starting to understand it. I've got a few places that want to talk to me, a few pointing me back to the applitrack online application and surprisingly only 2 who simply weren't hiring.

While I don't have a job secured yet, I can't help but to feel that following your advice put me exactly into the right spot so for that I thank you sir!!!

Again john, thank you very much, things are looking up.
Offgrid505
 
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