Teaching Skills and Abilities Principals Are Looking for in a New Teacher

Communicate your teaching skills and abilities in your resume and interview to let the school administrator know you are a perfect candidate is vital to secure a new teaching position.

When writing your new teacher resume for your first year teaching or if you are an experienced educator, it is important to target the intended audience. Typically this is the school principal.

Teacher looking for a new position often ask me, "What are school administrators looking for in a teacher?"

Candidates often function on hard teaching skills when in fact soft teaching skills are equally important. Once you understand what school principals want in a teacher, you can meet those needs and get hired.

In my teacher resume coaching experience, the resumes that attract the educational leaders' interest have the following seven traits.

Teaching Skills and Abilities Principals Are Looking for in a New Teacher

Seven Teacher Skills, Abilities, and Attributes to Communicate During Your Job Search


Teaching Skills

The principal will first establish your teaching skills and credentials. This includes your education and training, as well as any previous teaching experience you have had, and your knowledge of teaching techniques and strategies that foster learning in students. While teaching skills are the key to getting a job, they are not the only consideration. If possible, you should have a B.A. and your completed teaching credentials.

If you have student teaching experience, provide detailed information on your roles and responsibilities. Prior experience can help you get a job, especially if you have good recommendations. Some teachers only ask for recommendations from their direct supervisor.

A principal recommending a teacher to another principal – peer to peer – may provide you the edge you need to get noticed. Better still, land a reference from the district head – if circumstances warrant it appropriate to ask for one. Read up on how to select employment references for your teacher application and impress principals with the quality of your references.

Written and Verbal Communication Skills

How you communicate with your education professors at university, mentors as a student intern and classroom will ultimately affect your communication profile in your teacher application.

Showing examples of how you can communicate well with your students, students' parents, administrators, and other teachers and staff will help secure a new teaching postion. You should have excellent written and verbal communication skills and be able to demonstrate that you can effectively communicate with all types of people, from many different cultural backgrounds. If you are bilingual in English/Spanish or English/Chinese, you have an extremely valuable ability in today's multicultural classroom.

In the teaching job application process, make sure your resume is free of errors. Use perfect grammar during the interview. Prepare to answer interview questions without saying "Um..." or "I don't know." Speak up in an interview!  You have to sell yourself and your abilities. Conduct a self-audit on how to discover your strengths and weaknesses to communicate positively. In the process, you will also identify your teaching skills, attributes and abilities.

Passion and Enthusiasm for Teaching, Learning, and Collaborating

Every principal wants teachers to have passion and enthusiasm for teaching.  Passion is a desire to teach that goes well beyond just a career choice or job. It is a genuine interest and enthusiasm for teaching that invigorates your teaching style and gets you noticed. It is also a willingness to handle the stresses of teaching with grace and common sense. While many teachers find it a challenge, a teacher can easily communicate passion in a cover letter and resume. In an interview, this passion and enthusiasm must be obvious in your voice, body language, and eye contact.

Lifelong Learning

The best teachers are those who not only thrive on teaching others, but also continue their own learning throughout their lives. Principals value teachers who learn new teaching techniques, keep current on technology changes, continue their university coursework, and develop better communication skills. The most effective teachers are those who understand their own behavior and abilities and are willing to improve. In addition to mentioning this teaching philosophy in your resume and cover letter, expand upon it in your education teaching philosophy statement. Your dedication to lifelong learning makes you a good role model for students. When you are interviewed, mention your future plans for ongoing learning. 

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Principals want teachers who are flexible. In education, change is constant and teachers need to be willing and able to "roll with the punches" as they occur.  This is especially important when modifications to curricula occur or when a reassignment of teachers is necessary.

It's also vital that you can stay calm and adjust when chaotic things happen in the classroom. Those who are adaptable and happily willing to accept new challenges are more likely to excel in a teaching environment than those who do not perform well when faced with changing or stressful situations. Be prepared to describe how you will control and manage your classroom to the interview team. This is a typical question in a behavioral interview.

Note how the resume summary of this elementary teacher resume sample links the soft skills of flexibility, communication and passion (dedication) to learning objectives in the classroom.

Functioning as Part of a Team

The principal looks at the teachers, administrative staff, and support staff as a team. The team needs to be able to function well together and enjoy collaborating to maximize student learning and develop a positive school community. You probably have heard the old adage that "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." This is especially true in a school environment.

A united and collaborated school community creates the best learning environment and outcomes for students. You must convince the principal that you are ready, willing, and able to function as part of the team. One way to do this is to have one or two experiences to describe to the interview team about how you have functioned as part of a team in the past.

Positive Attitude

One of the simplest attributes a teacher needs, yet one of the hardest to understand is attitude. A positive attitude goes a long way in making you a great teacher and team member.

A teacher with a good attitude understands his or her obligations to teach well, provides a role model for students, and gets along well with other faculty members. Your attitude is important in portraying the type of school that the principal desires.

Communicate your enthusiasm for your teaching career in your resume, cover letter, and interview. Hint: examples of teamwork, exceptional parent communications, lifelong learning, going beyond the call of duty, and showing empathy towards others can help convey your attitude towards teaching.

While teacher interview coaching, I ask my teachers to try standing in the principal's shoes. Change sides and assume the role of the principal. What need-to-know questions are you going to ask? What qualities are you seeking in this job candidate? Now switch back and tell the principal why you possess the teaching skills, attributes and abilities he is looking for.

You should now have some idea of what school principals want in a teacher. If you are prepared to meet those needs, you will be hired. 

To find out if you are a principal's dream candidate, considering getting a resume and cover letter critique.

Learn how to use a teaching career coach to prepare your responses in a principal interview. .

For more resume help online, check out ideas on how to personalize a teacher resume and cover letter by reviewing our teacher resume and cover letter examples.

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