Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Preparing For Your Final Interview

If you're one of our third deadline applicants preparing for your interview next week, you may have questions about your required documents, what your interview day will be like, or how best to prepare.

Be sure to review the Applicant Center for all your required actions and listen to our recording of last week's "Preparing For Your Final Interview" online event.

Good luck at your interview!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Don't Forget: Your Online Activity Is Due Wednesday!

If you were invited to a final interview, by now you've probably already logged on to the Applicant Center to start your next steps. All applicants invited to continue in the application process must complete our Online Activity by November 12 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Here are a few tips so that you can complete this activity and cross it off your checklist!

1.Complete it as soon as you can. Why? It’s always better to get things done early. Plus, if you experience any technical difficulties, we can help you!

2.Set aside about two hours to complete the activity. It consists of two sections, one thirty minute multiple-choice section, and one untimed short answer section. When completing the untimed short answer portion, most people find they spend around five-eight minutes on each short answer question (around 150 words). But don’t stress if one question takes you four minutes or another takes you ten. This part is untimed! Relax and do your best!

3.Before sitting down to do the activity, ask yourself:
  • “Do I have a good internet connection?”
  • “Am I using a supported browser?” (Psst… our supported browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox)
  • “Have I read the directions?” (Seriously. Read them. They’re pretty handy.)

4. If you experience technical difficulties, try a few things first:
  • Log out of the Applicant Center and log back in using a different browser (Ex: if you’re using Chrome, try Firefox and vice versa)
  • Try accessing from a different computer.
  • If you’re having technical difficulties (loss of Internet, computer malfunction, etc.) completing Part I, go the Help tool on your Applicant Center and complete our Online Activity Help Request Form, the more details the better. While you wait for our response, you should still be able to work on Part II.
  • If you accidentally click out and close your browser before you finish the activity, log back on to the Applicant Center and click the link again. Be advised that your time will continue to run on Part I, so you should return to the activity as quickly as possible.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Notifications, (yes plural) Have Happened!

What a way to end October! Today our first, second, and third deadline applicants were notified!

First and Second Deadline Applicants
If you were accepted to the corps, congratulations! You're probably feeling excited, anxious, overwhelmed or maybe a combination of the three! All of that is perfectly normal. You don't have to decide right away if you're going to accept your offer. Read through the Applicant Center, learn about your region, attend an online event, and talk to a Teach For America staff member. You have until November 12 at 6 p.m. ET to confirm or decline, and we give you this time to really think your offer through. While we hope you'll accept, take your time to learn more about the commitment and about your role in the corps.

We also want to extend a big THANK YOU to all of our first and second deadline applicants. We know the application process is hard work and we appreciate your time, commitment, and passion for the mission. Teach For America is just one avenue working towards educational equality and we encourage you to take your passion and continue to seek out other educational and service-related opportunities.

Third Deadline Applicants
If you've been invited a phone interview, congratulations! You're probably reviewing your resume and considering who to list as your recommender. Check out our previous post for helpful tips on your interview. If you were invited directly to a final interview be sure to mark November 10 on your calendar for your Online Activity! We can't wait to learn more about you!

Friday, October 10, 2014

High Priority Subjects!

As our first and second deadline applicants get ready for their final interviews, one required action is to submit the Assignment Preference Form (APF). The APF is more than just the place where you list your regional preferences, it's also where you list your subject and grade level preferences. Just as we have our high priority regions (areas where the need for corps members is great) we also have high priority subjects. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Special Education (SPED), and Early Childhood Education (ECE) are considered high priority because we see an urgent need for teachers in many of our regions. We hosted an online event this week featuring 3 current corps members who shared more about their expereinces teaching these subjects. If you missed the call, check out the recording: If you're interested in learning more about our high priority subjects, check out the links below!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Final Interviews Are Almost Here!

Our first and second deadline applicants are preparing for final interviews next week and that invariably brings lots of questions like: What can I teach? What's the personal interview like? When will I eat lunch? To answer some of your questions, check out our "Preparing For Your Final Interview" online event recording.
For Our Frequently Asked Questions, read on!

How long will my interview day last?
Most interview days start at 9 a.m. (but check your Applicant Center for your specific time) and we suggest that you set aside the whole day. Your actual interview day will be over after your personal interview. If your interview is earlier, your day will end earlier. While you can't sign up for a personal interview time before your interview day, applicants work out what times work best for everyone. If you have a later interview time, you can leave your interview site, get lunch, talk with other applicants, whatever you'd like to do!

I wasn't able to get all of my documents uploaded, should I still attend?
Yes absolutely! Hopefully you'll be able to upload them as soon as possible, but you should definitely attend your interview in the meantime. You should not however, bring your documents with you to the interview day. Your interviewers can't collect them, so there's no point in bringing them. Just be sure to upload everything as soon as you can.

Who are my interviewers?
Your interviewers will be Teach For America staff members. Some of your interviewers might also be Teach For America alumni. During your interview day you'll be able to ask them questions about their experience in the classroom if they were teachers, and about Teach For America's mission and work.

How big will my interview day be?
Most of our interview days have 12 applicants and 2 interviewers. It's possible that your interview day might be slightly smaller or larger though. If you're planning on making copies for your sample teach, we suggest making 15 total, it's always better to have a little extra! You'll also wear name tags during the day, so you'll be able to easily call on your "students" during your lesson.

What will my interview room be like? What should I bring with me?
Since all our interview spaces are generously donated, this can really vary! We have interview spaces at universities, offices, conference centers, etc. We can guarantee that there will be a writing surface in your room. This can mean a chalk board, white board, or chart paper. We'll also provide a writing utensil of course, but we can't promise more than that! If your lesson relies on any kind of technology you'll have to bring that yourself. You'll also have to set it up in your one minute prep period. Be sure to consider this when planning your lesson.

We hope you feel prepared and wish you good luck on your interview!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

High Priority Regions: Go Where You're Most Needed

Corps members teach grades pre-K through 12 in 50 urban and rural regions across the country. While each one of these regions —and each classroom within them—has a tremendous need for dedicated, passionate teachers, we encourage applicants to pay special consideration to a handful of regions where both need and opportunity for impact this year is particularly high. We call these 5 regions our high priority regions. If you missed our call this week featuring panelists from each region, you can listen to our recording to learn more!


Opportunity For Impact
This area was once thriving, but the decline of textile production and other manufacturing led to widespread unemployment. Today, 25 percent of children in the state live in poverty and experience huge disparities in educational opportunities. Still, Eastern North Carolina communities are working toward unprecedented success by developing leaders in education and investing in long-term change.

What’s It Like To Live In Eastern North Carolina?
Living in Eastern North Carolina means being part of a thriving community where Southern hospitality is a way of life. In the counties where they live and teach, corps members enjoy being part of a small town community. While we are primarily a rural region, all of our rural schools are only an hour or two away from larger cities by car


Opportunity For Impact
Less than half of Clark County’s 300,000 students graduate from high school and Nevada’s high school graduation rate ranks last in our entire nation. This poses a serious threat to the state’s economic growth.

What’s It Like To Live In The Las Vegas Valley?
The Las Vegas Valley is a part of the beautiful Mojave Desert with stunning landscapes and views. The mountains surrounding the valley provide easy access to a host of outdoor activities including hiking, snowboarding, and mountain biking. And of course, there is the Strip, a world-famous cultural icon and destination for people from around the world.


Opportunity For Impact
Nearly 50 years after Dr. King gave his life in Memphis in the fight for equality, only four percent of kids in the city graduate high school ready for college. Memphis is responding by becoming an epicenter of education reform. The city received one of the first Race to the Top Awards and new leaders like State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman (Houston Corps ’92) and Achievement School Superintendent Chris Barbic (Houston Corps ’92) are fighting for change.

What’s It Like To Live In Memphis?
Corps members can kayak down the Mississippi River, taste the best BBQ in the south, and enjoy the outdoors in the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. The sense of community here is strong. Corps members become part of the Memphis family—living together and in the same neighborhoods in which they teach.


Opportunity For Impact
Many students in Mississippi are already two grade levels behind by third grade. By high school, their ACT scores far fall below the national average. Despite these barriers, Mississippi is defined by its greatest asset: its people. Residents are creative, entrepreneurial, visionary, and brimming with the desire to see their home live up to its potential.

What’s It Like To Live In Mississippi?
Our corps members live in about 30 different cities and towns across Mississippi. Since the neighborhoods where they live are often small—it’s almost guaranteed to run into students or other corps members at the grocery store—corps members develop close-knit relationships with their Teach For America colleagues, veteran teachers in their school districts, and the community as a whole.


Opportunity For Impact
Today, just 37 percent of Oklahoma’s students graduate with an ACT score that will afford them entry into the state’s two largest universities. But Oklahoma is a state that is ready for reform, and corps members have a seat at the decision-making table. They’ve dined with the mayor, spoken with major philanthropists, and met one-on-one with the district’s superintendent.

What’s It Like To Live In Oklahoma?
With just under one million people in the metro area, Tulsa offers the benefits of a big city life but maintains the tight-knit community atmosphere. Traffic is minimal, housing is affordable, cost of living is low, and corps members find it easy to enjoy all that the city has to offer. Oklahoma City provides plenty of great living options at affordable rates, exciting entertainment, a beautiful downtown, and even a professional basketball team. In 2008, Forbes named Oklahoma City the most “recession-proof city in America” due to falling unemployment rates and one of the strongest housing markets in the country.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Forms and Final Interviews!

Starting October 13, our first and second deadline applicants will have the opportunity to sit down with Teach For America staff for their final interviews. Congratulations to those of you who have made it to this stage of the process! While we certainly hope you’re excited, we understand that you may also be feeling a bit nervous in preparation for the big interview.

On October 10, your Assignment Preference Form, Coursework Information Form, official transcripts, Online Recommendation Forms, and employment eligibility forms are all due. There's a lot involved in admitting and assigning accepted applicants into Teach For America and we receive many questions about these forms. With that in mind, here are some answers to our most frequently asked final interview form questions.

“Which transcripts should I upload?”
This is a very common question we receive and since everyone's educational history is different, we've created an online wizard that will answer this question for you. Before you can even upload your transcript, you'll have to visit the Transcript Wizard on the Applicant Center and click on “Required Forms.” The wizard will walk you through each transcript scenario, and produce an exact answer of what transcripts you need to submit. It’s truly magical. We ask for an official transcript in order to verify that you meet our eligibility requirements (a bachelor’s degree and a 2.5 GPA).

“Ok, the wizard has spoken and I know which transcripts I need, but how do I submit them to Teach For America?”
You'll need to upload your transcripts directly to the Applicant Center. Many schools provide electronic copies of official transcripts. If you find that your university falls into this cateogry, you can order one for yourself by designating your personal email address as the recipient. Then you can upload it directly to the Applicant Center once you’ve received it.

If your school does not provide digital copies of official transcripts, you can order a hard copy sent to your personal address. Once you receive it in the mail, you can open the envelope and scan a copy into your computer. Don’t worry about breaking the "official seal." You’ll need to open it in order to scan and submit to the Applicant Center.
We can't accept hard copies of official transcripts to our office as we just don't have the capacity to scan and upload them for all of our applicants!

"I already submitted my transcript, why do I need to fill out the Coursework Information Form?"
Your Coursework Information Form is a very important component for us in evaluating your candidacy and, if accepted, it helps determine where you can be placed. The states and school districts in our regions each have their own unique set of coursework standards for eligibility. Things like your credit hours, major, and GPA play a big part in determining which region we can assign you to.

In order determine your placement eligibility efficiently, we need to have the information organized in a uniformed way. Because university transcripts are uniquely formatted, it is not feasible for our Assignment team to look at the transcript for every applicant, and then assess where you might be qualified to teach. If our team attempted to do this, you might not receive your regional assignment until the week before school starts!

“What are eligibility documents?”
Your employment eligibility documentation confirms you are who you say you are and that you’re a citizen, permanent resident, recipient of deferred action for childhood arrivals, or national of the United States. A U.S. passport will work for many of our applicants. If you don’t have a passport you’ll need two documents to prove your identity and citizenship. A scanned copy of a driver’s license and a birth certificate will work just fine. For DACA recipients, you'll need to upload your social security card and employment authorization document. For more details on what documents to upload, check out the PDF guide on the Required Documents page of the Applicant Center.

"What if my recommender hasn't received their Online Recommendation Form?"
Our system automatically sends out recommender emails once your RRL is submitted, so it's possible the email went to their spam or junk folder. To resend the email, you can log on to the Applicant Center, go to your Recommenders & Reference List, and click the ‘Send reminder email’ button to have the email with link sent to your recommender again. This feature can be used once every hour. Once the button has been clicked, it will be available again after one hour. 

If your recommender still has not received the form after you’ve already re-sent it, it is likely because their email’s firewall is preventing our emails from being delivered. You may want to update your recommender’s contact information with an alternative email address (like a Yahoo or Gmail account). When you change your recommender’s email address, it will automatically trigger a new email to be sent to the updated address.

If your recommender doesn't have alternate emails, please have your him/her email us at recommendations@teachforamerica.org. We will then provide them with the link to the Online Recommendation Form directly.

I certainly hope that this information sets you up for success. If you find that you still have questions, please feel free to browse through this blog and check out the information on the Help tool on the Applicant Center. Good luck with your final interview!