• Samantha Fecich

It's about the story that you share - remote teaching opportunities featuring Erin Lewis

This is a jam-packed episode full of tips for teacher candidates as you navigate through the remote teaching journey. Hello, edumagians, and welcome back to another episode of the edumagic podcast. Welcome to episode 64. This has been a long-awaited episode. All of you have voted for this topic, and it's all about virtual teaching opportunities this summer, and how to help you guys navigate the job search in the fall.


I have an amazing guest on her name is Erin Lewis she's from Clarion University. You may remember her from, the EduMagic podcast episodes 10 and 11 (Job fair like a boss Part 1 Featuring Erin Lewis 10 and Job Fair Like a Boss Part 2 - with Erin Lewis 11) These episodes are all about the job fair search and we'll be talking about that later in the episode, but how to prep for an online job fair. Today we are discussing how to search for remote positions in the summer as teacher candidates, we'll be talking about how to navigate the virtual job search for fall teaching. Let's just get this party started Erin, welcome to the show.



Share a little bit about your current role in education before we get started today?

I am currently a certified teacher, but I'm not teaching in the traditional sense. I currently serve as a NACE certified career coach at Clarion University and I work with education majors. I also specialize in working with our online students and online career services.


We know that many teacher candidates use the summertime to either take classes, go further in their coursework. They also work at summer camps, whether their day camps are residential, but we know with COVID-19 that this summer is looking very different for them. How do they even find out about where to look? What do they do?

So that's one of the things I'm hearing from a lot of the students that I work with too, like, "Oh no, what do I do now?" I think the big thing to think about is it doesn't matter what you do.


It matters at the end, the story you tell

I'm going to kind of come back to that comment. As you think about navigating this process and, and how do I transition from a summer camp? That's going to give me experience with students in some similar classroom-related experience. Don't think in terms of it has to be the same, think in terms of what transferable skills am I going to gain and how am I going to be able to talk about this someday? Because the ultimate thing to think about is everyone's going to see summer 2020 and know about, Oh, COVID.


So as you think about searching for positions for the summer, and maybe you're thinking about some remote positions because you do want to work with children in some way, the usual job search sites are still helpful. It's just, we changed the wording that we use. So maybe instead of summer camp counselor, maybe we are searching for remote camp counselor positions because some summer camps, some YMCAs, some of these programs are taking the programs that are in person and trying to transition them to online.


Those of us who are teachers know it's not the same, but it can be done equitably and it can be done well. You as a young professional, who has experience in technology and is really comfortable with it, you are exactly what they're looking for. So using the term remote position, remote teacher, remote counselor, remote tutor, all of these things, some of these companies that do in-person work are transitioning to online because they want income as well. They need people, they can rely on to provide that service. So use the word remote when you search for things like Google, LinkedIn jobs, monster, all of those things. But the other thing to think about that's kind of lost art is actually networking with friends and family to see if they know of anybody who is hiring online positions and online tutors in particular. Ask if they're looking for, summer reading programs and summer library programs, a lot of these things are moving online. So ask around, see, who knows what. You never know what can come about from that and nd it can be a really beneficial tool.


The other thing that, I've just been learning about in the last couple of weeks is online child care. And, and that sounds kind of weird, right? As a mom, who's working from home with three school-aged kids. I was intrigued by this when I saw it on the news. So basically these individuals are providing online childcare through zoom or Skype or FaceTime. They are doing arts and crafts with kids, reading, games. The same things that you would do with somebody face to face, but you're doing it virtually as more and more parents are still working from home. And as online schooling is letting out for summer now, it's like, what do I do with the kids? That's a great story to tell like I normally babysit in the summer, or I normally work at a childcare center, or I normally work at my local YMCA and those programs don't exist. So I did a little research and I found this online childcare opportunity. Oh, well, it's not the same. I did build skills. I did gain, the experience of doing this.


I think as we think about the situation we're in now and moving forward, we're not going to go back. We can only move forward. And so you're only going to build your skillsets. I love all that. I love it's, it's not about what you do specifically. It's about the story that you tell, and that is absolute.


Once we found maybe a position at YMCA or a day camp, that's transitioning to virtual learning, what is the best practice when it comes to interviewing in the online space?

  • My best piece of advice when it comes to online interviewing is to practice, practice, practice, and practice some more, a lot of you and probably exactly there was no such thing as too much interview practice.

  • If you can become confident with things like zoom or Skype or Google Hangouts, FaceTime interviews, those that confidence will show.

  • I will say that typically it's great to practice with somebody who knows about interviewing answers and how to respond to questions and all of that good stuff, but it's also really beneficial to practice with the friend using the technology, just to get comfortable with the technology.

  • Are you looking at the camera when you talk to the person or are you looking at their picture on your screen? Always look at the camera. That's how you make eye contact in an interview.

  • You know, if your lighting isn't right, you sometimes look like you are a criminal from one of those interview interrogation, but we're trying to hide your face. So you want to make sure that your lighting is really good, that the lighting is in front of you, that your, your screen is bright. If you don't have good lighting in your house where you have a good background, a simple trick is you can take a house lamp and take the lampshade off and kinda set it behind your laptop. So it's shining on your face and then you have a nice light space, t makes your skin look better. It makes your face look clear and they can really see that.

  • You also want to think about what is in your background now, ordinarily, employers who are doing virtual interviews might be really picky about, are you in your kitchen or did you go to your coffee shop or did you go to a library? Did you go to your career center? Every single employer I've talked with is like, listen, we know we're all stuck in wherever it is that we're stuck. And we're a little bit more forgiving and offering a little bit more grace in these things.

  • Have a conversation with the people and pets who are in your house. You know, obviously dog barking, we cannot control dog barking or things like that. But if you have a cat who prefers your laptop, a keyboard, instead of, the back of the couch, looking out the window, try to mitigate those things. If you can go into space and close the door to keep everybody out. Try to keep your family out of the screen.

  • A lot of career centers are still working during the summer and are offering virtual services. Maybe you can do a practice interview with your career center. So check those things out.

  • Listen to episode 56 for more tips on acing your remote teaching interview - How to rock your teaching interview remote style

So my next question is I know we have teacher candidates out there that are just chomping at the bit, ready to start their own teaching business online. What are some best practices you have for teacher candidates who are ready to start their own remote teaching business?

Well, first of all, I have to give them kudos and congratulate them for even thinking about doing something like that. And that's part of the battle, right? Is here's the box and I'm going to think outside of it - that's a great story to tell. The next best tip I can give you is to consult your local small business development center. They have people there who specialize in small business development and that they can generally walk you through the process from start to finish. We are, we're very fortunate at Clarion University ours is located right on campus and I work pretty closely with those people. So they're going to be really glad that I gave a shout out, to them. The other thing I will say is to do some research,

  • What kind of business do you want to start?

  • Do you want to actually be teaching?

  • Do you want to be tutoring?

  • Do you want to be providing resources?

  • Do you want to be providing, lesson plans?

  • What are, what are the resources, what's the business that you want to teach?

  • Who's your target audience? Are you targeting parents? Are you targeting, schools, are you looking at being maybe a supplemental resource for teachers?

  • See what's out there. Is there somebody who's already doing what you want to be doing? Can you have a conversation with that person? So take advantage of, of people who are already, blaze the trail for you and see if they're willing to share information.


Listen, teachers are amazing people. We want to help. We want to teach other people, which is why we are in this field, right? So seek out, the knowledge and generosity of people, but truly your small business development center can help you navigate all of the technical ends of things, like taxes and liability and all that stuff that I certainly do not understand, nor do I want to understand, but there is somebody there who does, that's an amazing resource.


Alright, so let's fast forward. We talked before we started to record those student teachers that may have spring 2020 student teaching written on their resume, or let's even go to our fall student teachers as well. What are some tips that you have for them as they navigate this job search?

  • Check out your career center, I promise you, they're working in overdrive about how to help you navigate the job search. They will most likely be able to help you understand what your school has been doing or is doing to help you navigate the process, how they can connect you with employers and workshops at resources.

  • I will say that in education, in particular, there's a high need. We, know there are opportunities that are out there, and, the world is your oyster at this point. It's rather easy to find what districts are hiring, by holding remote, career fairs by, reaching out to career centers going. We want to have campus interviews. Can we do this virtually those, those sort of things are out there.

  • So do your research using your career center also, if there are individual schools that you are particularly interested in, check them out, check their website out. Are they hosting events? And a lot of them are hosting a virtual meet and greet. Some of them are hosting open interviews where basically you submit a resume and they'll talk to you for about five minutes, to see, if you're meeting their qualifications.

  • Also check out your local teacher organization, state teacher organizations, national teacher organizations, to see what kind of events they may be hosting.

  • A lot of in-person, job fairs that were scheduled to happen have either been moved to online, or they were moved online and now a recording exists somewhere. Your career center should have a lot of that information.

We know that job fairs may have gone online. Do you have any strategies or tips for students, for teacher candidates to navigate the online job fairs, where to find them what to do and how to get started with that part of the job search?
  • A lot of the schools are using career management systems now, and we'll post-career events and virtual job fairs and things like that online. So check that out.

  • The best tip I can say when it comes to any job search is to treat, finding a job like it is your job. I think that is especially important in this particular situation. We're all in. You need to treat it like a job, but you also need to treat it like it's the only job you're ever going to have for the rest of your life. Maybe work a little over time. It might require a little extra work. It may require a little extra networking and an effort on your part.

  • Again, your career center is going to be having that information can share that with you, individual schools are probably posting that information on their websites or in the process of it when it comes to preparation.

  • Some virtual job fairs are simply like a chat room where it's maybe like a Facebook messenger or instant, instant messaging where the employer's on one end and you're on the other. You're basically just chatting virtually in a, in a text box. Some of them are video. Think in terms of, of that chat box is your professional communication, your professional email to talk to like your principal or your cooperating teacher.

  • You want to be really mindful of the language, the wording, how you're structuring your sentences, just like you would, if you were in a face to face conversation, you would be really articulate. You would be very mindful of what you're saying and how you're saying, use that same framework for chat boxes. It's, really important and it's easy to be casual when we're maybe just texting or chatting. This is not the platform to do that. So, do we search to see what it is, how, what the platform is using, and how they're doing it, honestly, you may be able to find information out super easily? You may not. Sometimes platforms might be named one thing, but branded differently. So do the best you can. That's just something to kind of think about is it's probably not going to be like a zoom or a face to face time or something that where you're video messaging with people it's most likely going to be like different chat rooms.

  • I am a huge believer in mindset. You're not going to catch me taking exams in my pajamas. I've never been one to do that. So yeah, I would recommend that you don't necessarily have to dress to the nines as you would if it were a virtual video job fair, but there is some great power in putting on your best, business casual, maybe a nice pair of khakis and a nice blouse or a button-down shirt. It just reframes how you are presenting yourself.

What is one last piece of advice that you have for our teacher candidates listening today?

One final piece of advice that I can share is to remember that everybody is navigating this situation from school administrators, HR personnel, your professors, your cooperating teachers, and summer jobs. You don't have fear about your student teaching experience, it wasn't what you thought or your summer job experience wasn't what you thought. Honestly, none of us thought that we would be here, navigating these waters, but we are. So again, just like I said, in the beginning, it's not about what your summer experiences, it's not about what you did during student teaching at this point.


It's all about the story that you tell. Did, you take the initiative to try to do something this summer, maybe you're working at a grocery store because you couldn't find anything else. Are you taking the opportunity to educate people about where certain procedures are and well, here's how you have to do this? Now, we're always teaching no matter where we're doing it, we can take the opportunity to teach. If you're working in the foodservice business, maybe you're teaching customers to know how to navigate that process. Maybe you're teaching your coworkers how to navigate something. Or maybe you just have to tell the story. I really wanted to do something in education, but unfortunately COVID happened. And so I needed to find something that provided income. And so that's what I did. And I focused on building my communication skills and strengthening my teamwork skills.


Every employer is going to understand that. Take action. Do something because some action is better than no action. And think in terms of what did you do? What did you learn? How did you make the best lemonade possible out of the lemons that you were given?


Connect with Erin Lewis on Instagram @ErinLewis13

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