This week Ali and JoDee chat with Franny Wooler, an educator who has worked in the public school system for the last two decades and is now an assistant principal. Together we’ll talk about expanding your network outside of your school, tips for getting your resume noticed for the jobs you want and other jobs within your district that you may not currently know about.
Connect with Franny:
Connect with Ali and JoDee:
Ali’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alisimon/
JoDee’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodeescissors/
For episode transcriptions visit: https://thegreatteacherresignation.buzzsprout.com
All teachers are natural innovators, entertainers and problem solvers. They dream of growing old into the profession, teaching their kids kids. But sometimes career goals shift or change, and that makes opportunities outside of the classroom seem intangible questioning who am I if I'm not a teacher? I'm your host Alexandra Simon.
And I'm your co-host, JoDee Scissors.
This is The Great Teacher Resignation.
Today, we are joined by Franny Wooler. Franny has worked in the K through 5 public school system for the past two decades, from teacher to professional development leader to a central office role. Franny now serves as an assistant principal. Thanks for joining us today, Franny.
Hi, everybody, thank you.
Franny, we're so happy to have you today. I've been singing your praises for a very long time to Ali. And the reason why I wanted to bring Franny on, for all of our listeners to know, is that she has been a voice of reason and guidance for me for a very long time. And I met her later on in my career, but she was instantly just someone that I knew that I could trust as a friend, but also with complex issues related to education. And I think she was that person for a lot of people. And so she's just can handle any situation with grace, like literally, graceful voice, graceful actions, graceful at problem solving. And she loves me in all my messy glory.
That is true.
Thank you. But not to mention she has the most glorious voice ever. And I always encourage her to be a voice actress on top of all of her wonderful duties that she does for education. So Franny, so glad you can be here with us.
Well, thank you for having me on your podcast. I'm an avid fan already. And listening every week when the new episode comes out. JoDee the feelings that you have personally, they're definitely mutual. I think back on my career, and I think that you stand out as one of the most amazing teachers that I've ever worked with. And I'm always in awe of you and thinking about scenarios with you. When I'm coaching new teachers, I'm saying, okay, I think I remember this before, when I think about our time together and our experience together.
Thank you. Well, we stay connected, but I'm super happy to have you here. So you can talk about some important topics. Today, we're gonna talk about some teacher career goals, through the school system landscape. And you're an excellent person to talk to about that, because you've held many positions and worn many hats. And you can speak on this topic. But you also know what people are looking for in these positions. And so you've spent a lot of time working with teachers. That's how I got to know you. You were the school based professional development teacher, and I saw the way that you worked. Your impact on working with teachers obviously impacts students directly. And so, one, we needed more clones of you for sure, like in all schools. Just a bunch of Franny clones everywhere. But in your career, why specifically did you desire to work with teachers? And how did you get yourself to that point of wanting to work directly with them?
In high school, I think about this little boy that I worked with after school a lot. His name is Kelvin. And I've lost touch with him through the years. But when I was in high school, I worked with Kelvin. And I did some after school help that you know, a high schooler would do. And while I was working with him, I realized that for him to be successful, his teacher was going to have to be successful. Now I was only 17 years old. So I didn't have any idea of what that would look like. But I decided that not only that I want to enter into the world of education, and spend time myself as a classroom teacher, but also to live my love and care for the students by being in service of teachers. And so the first decade a little bit more of my career, I was directly face to face with students. And then for the past seven or eight years, I've been doing 100% support, teacher to teacher, shoulder to shoulder, coaching and support. My love for students and my passion for students, which JoDee knows deeply about, my passion for students, it plays out in my love and support for the teachers and partnership for their success. Because teachers success is student success. Student success is teacher success.
Yeah, and that's some early intuition that you had in high school to know to be able to recognize something like that, but that does not surprise me about you at all. You have great intuition. And so, that's something I think that people need to think about is sometimes when you go into education, your goals aren't perhaps to stay in the classroom right off the bat, perhaps it's to get your feet in the water, work with students, and then make your way into a specialist position, or a position that is perhaps in central office. I know many educators that want to move into HR, because they want to be a part of a process of hiring educators. And so as others think about their careers coming out of college, perhaps their goal is to move quickly into those roles, because that's where their heart lies.
Right. And we know that, yes, we need amazing teachers in the classroom. And you know, I'm a mom, and I'm very grateful for my own boys. They have amazing classroom teachers. But we know that within a school, that a school will have administrators. A school could have something like specialists, ELD specialists, intervention teachers, different types of coaches, literacy coaches reading specialist. And we need people in those roles, who were amazing classroom teachers, who understand classroom life, who can be a mentor and a role model to their future, and who know how to make a student centered decision with a realistic lens of having been in the role themselves. So I know that it could be you. You could be the person to do it. Maybe you've been serving your students, and you care about your students. And the next step for you might be to move into one of the supporting positions in the school.
Absolutely. And in my teaching career, I had a lot of those individuals who moved into those supportive positions. And you could really tell the difference of someone who was a successful classroom teacher who had a good command of the classroom, a deep knowledge for what it's like to work with youth versus those who maybe were less experienced or somehow ended up in those roles. And I think you make a really good point that we need the best teachers in those roles. So I'm wondering, our scope and our network, as teachers can sometimes be narrow because they really rely on the team at their school and their immediate support staff. So how can they expand their network outside of the building to try to get those jobs? Some of them are within the building, but a lot of them hire at the district level, right? You have to apply to the district. So what would your suggestion be for them to just have a broader network?
Well, I was just talking with a colleague earlier, a fellow teacher, and she actually made a LinkedIn account, which a lot of teachers, that's not something that we do. LinkedIn is like a big social media company, in the professional world, and teachers may not be in that community. There's also social media communities. Those are not necessarily at the district, but just to get yourself out there. And also, there are opportunities inside the county that you work for the district that you work. So sometimes the county might be hiring somebody to facilitate some summer training. And, you know, maybe it doesn't pay a lot. But you might put yourself out there to say I need to come outside of my classroom, and take on this role of doing these summer training conferences that are like smaller conferences, or professional development opportunities that might be even at your school to volunteer for those. Well say, well, I would like to be a leader. And this is something that we did at the school version of hilltop there. There was opportunity to say, well, for each time that we're having a professional learning or a staff meeting, is to say we're going to have some classroom teachers, or additional staff co-lead that professional learning with us. I think that takes a little bit of like thinking outside the box to say, well, what can I do? What's my role? So maybe those classroom... maybe there was like in school professional development, or maybe some district level professional development, or maybe entering into that social media world to say, well, what, what can I do to get my name out there? And to get some experience out there outside of maybe the bubble that I'm in.
I would go to the language immersion trainings, and meet with other language immersion teachers. And so I also took that as an opportunity not just to have support from them, but perhaps in the future, maybe I would want to go to their school. And so when we can take those professional learning opportunities where we are there to learn, but we can also be there to network and build our community outside of like our immediate building.
Yeah, I definitely agree with that, JoDee, that using those opportunities where your school is already sending you to a training, right? So that's part of your duties anyway, that can be a great way to network. One thing I thought of when you brought up professional development Franny was the outside organizations that we might be members of. So for example, I was a foreign language teacher. So each state that I was in I became a member of like the foreign language teaching association. And I was one of those teachers, I like going to conferences. So I would often, if it was near the city that I lived in, or within an hour drive, I would go. And that was a great way to network. You can also submit proposals to present at those conferences. And that's a really great way to get yourself out there in like a higher level to get some notice from your district. A lot of times, the leaders of each district will go to those types of conferences. So whether it's someone at the district level, for, I don't know, elementary education, special education, foreign language education. They're going to those conferences. I know they do cost money. They're not free. You know, to be a member and to attend. But I gained a lot as an educator by going to those things. And I think that's a great way also to network.
Those are great points. And I thought about that what you were saying about attending those conferences. I'm also thinking about how in the days that we live in right now, there's a lot of meetings on Zoom, and conferences on Zoom. And even so that I haven't that encouragement to get out there in person, if you can, turn on your camera if you can, be in those breakout rooms, be active and get to know and do some networking, in those events that you're able to.
I'm just thinking about like we've networked, we have, you know, made connections with people. But how does someone get to where they want to be? Because in my experience, as someone that has sat on hiring committees, we glance at the resume, but it's those questions we want them to answer in the interview. It's the connection that they have with the members of the team. How does someone even get to a point of getting an interview? What do they do on their resume to get noticed? To be filtered? Because we know AI does a lot of resume filtration in large school systems and large corporations. It's a computer kind of filtering those things. So how do you get noticed on your resume? How do you stand out?
That is a great question. And I also wonder if in our district where I work, it's not necessarily the ATS computer software, many times it is a person that's looking at your resume. And that might be true of other schools, like if you're applying to an independent school, it may not be a software that's looking at your resume. It may be a person. So I think about this. I think about well, what sets you apart? If there's a position to school, everyone who's applying to that position, has certain things that are true about them and have some certification, some level of education, that's already true. Maybe HR has a way of filtering so that only certain people who have those certifications aren't even in the pool of looking at who the candidates are. So then I wonder, well, what sets you apart? So I think about this, so I saw a resume, and it said, administering state testing with fidelity. And another one said it met student needs and differentiated small groups. So when I think about that, that's probably true. But that's probably true for all of the applicants. All of us. It's super difficult. We should be proud of it if we administered state testing with fidelity, but that does not make you stand out. Among the list of people who applied for this position. I might say, well, I'm gonna think about that, met student needs with differentiated small group. And I'm going to change it to say, yes, I implement the differentiated math groups, resulting in a 33% additional students meeting the end of year benchmark. Now what did I do just in that small change? I put a number because I have to be on student impact. Nearly every bullet on my resume has to say, well, what is the student impact. Now that I did that, so then what? What's the result of that? Another is that I added that word math, because maybe the position that you're applying to at this moment is a math content position. So I'm going to make sure that I'm using the name of the curriculum that the county uses or that the school uses if I have experienced with it. I'm going to make sure that I'm talking about math, I'm going to edit my bullets to match that position. If it's a reading position, if it's a position with multilingual learners, I'm going to make sure that I take the opportunity to add that in. And I'm also going to do some data analysis on my own prior to making my resume. I'm not gonna put the bullet on my resume that I do data analysis. I'm gonna do some data analysis. And as a result of that data analysis, I said, you know what, 33% more students met this goal than in previous years. I'm gonna make sure that I have that highlighted on my resume. I really want to number one, I need to set myself apart and not put things that are true of all the candidates who are applying.
That is super helpful for jobs outside of the classroom, but within a district. But it's also really great advice for applying for any job, because employers want to see quantifiable results, right? They want to know that you can't just differentiate for your students, but that that leads to something, right? So even if you're trying to sell yourself as an instructional designer, if you're trying to sell yourself as a trainer, it's applicable. So you want to take your resume, like Franny was describing and detail it, look at what the job description says. What are you going to be doing in that role? If it's a math role, tailor it to a math role. Maybe you're an elementary teacher, but you can look at your math results from your students and by having an eye on that already, which I'm sure you all do, you're just taking work that you've already done, and you're putting it into your resume. And just keep track of that, because the growth that you can show throughout one school year or even throughout a series of years, is really going to be helpful to catch someone's attention than just like a generic bullet point. So in terms of preparing your resume, I think that's excellent advice. What would be your second point that's the most important for a resume?
Well, I think it is what I think of as real estate. Meaning your resume, you have one or two pages, that your total real estate that you have to say something about yourself. So something that I do when I support my colleagues for help with their resumes, is that we cross out, we first eliminate a whole bunch because real estate is precious. And I would like the hiring manager to look at my resume and I want them to notice something unique about me. So in my case, like I speak Spanish. I really would like them to notice that about me. I think that in the pile of resumes, that might be something that makes me come to the top three, or four or five. How many they're going to choose to interview. So I'm going to make sure that whatever is the unique point about me that I want them to notice, doesn't get buried, among other points that are not necessarily true. So I have a bachelor's degree. Guess what? So does everyone who is applying to whatever job I'm going to apply to. So in that case, I might take my education or my certifications, and move them to the bottom what words to the side of my resume. That's not really where I want my hiring managers eyes to land. I'm going to include that and make sure that it is included, but it's not going to be bolded. I'm going to make sure that there's no bold on dates. I'm going to make sure there are headings. If there are a list of bullets, I'm not going to have 10 bullets, or 12 bullets. I'm gonna really make it three bullets that I really care about them viewing, because, again, your resume is it's precious real estate. Where do you want their eye to land? And what do you want them to notice about you?
I love that. I love that analogy with real estate. So listeners, make use of the space that you're taking on your resume and make sure to move all the important information to the top. That's something I always did myself. I think that was really helpful. I had some other employment outside of education. So when I would apply to jobs outside of education, I would actually put relevant experience first. So I had a fellowship that was outside of education that matched up better with a job that I was applying for than my teacher experience. And so I pushed that down on my resume. And that I think caught the attention of employers. That's an awesome tip. And I'm also going to have Franny share other tips with us so we can share with you on social media. I want to wrap up by asking Franny, one last question today. So we're aware of the jobs, I think that teachers can have, you know, as educators, right? We're classroom teachers, perhaps we are supporting other teachers. What are maybe some other jobs within a school district that aren't as, like popular? Maybe you didn't learn about them till later on in your career, because I feel like for a while, I felt kind of limited that I was either a teacher or I was an administrator, or I had to become a school counselor. I didn't know about all these other jobs. So maybe you could just share a few of the other jobs.
So this will depend a lot on the size of your districts. Some districts are large, the one where I work is very large. We have curriculum offices, which have lots of people. I don't know 50 or 60 people that does work in the curriculum office. There's a large HR office, which is an area of interest for me is to say, what are we doing to recruit teachers, and to really help them through that process. And so there's teachers who live their lives in their current career dedicated to the human resources teacher recruitment process. There's also jobs around equity and anti racism. There are, depending on the size of the school, there are a lot of positions around us school that aren't in the classroom positions. What I mean is, teachers who support multilingual learners. Teachers who are intervention teachers, literacy teachers. Something that I have always done and I recommend is that you can go to a school system's apply page or careers page and just look at the position. Even if you're not at this moment, you're not going to apply for those positions. It's just you need to know that they're out there. So maybe there is a position that you didn't even know but it might be a perfect fit for you. And so by by looking at the district's page itself about careers and applying for careers, that helps open your eyes to some different possibilities. And I would also think to think about what are your passion areas? So one of my passions has always been supporting multilingual learners. Then I think about well, what are some avenues for me in the area of supporting multilingual learners? There's also a position in our district that just came up that is supporting newcomers, new arrivals. There are positions supporting students with interrupted education. That's not something that I would have known existed. But by looking at the careers page, or by attending those conferences, like was mentioned earlier, or by attending those like professional trainings at your district, you start to find out, well, what's your role? Okay, I didn't even know that existed in this area. Those are just some ways to find out.
So if you're in doubt, or you're not sure what to do, exploration is just a good start. Explore the options within your school district, browse them. You can expand to LinkedIn. See what's out there. Just to kind of land somewhere. I think that is a goal I should set for myself. Maybe I want to be a math specialist. Maybe I want to be an intervention teacher. Maybe I want to be somewhere outside the school district. But if you explore it kind of opens your mind to the possibilities. And then to get to a point of tailoring your resume and building your skills throughout that time in order to land that job.
That is well said. And always tailoring your resume for each job that you apply to, especially for them. Thinking about, well, what would make me stand out for them in the position?
Well, thank you so much to Franny for coming on the show today and sharing all of her wisdom from holding multiple positions in her school district. And I hope that our listeners are taking advantage of all the tips that she shared and ways that you can look into other positions outside of the classroom but within your school district. If you want to connect with Frannie you can reach her at apply refine firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks again for being on the show.
If you liked The Great Teacher Resignation, give us a five star rating and follow us on Instagram, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Audible. This episode was written and recorded by me Alexandra Simon, and my co-host JoDee Scissors. Produced by JoDee Scissors. Original Music, Emoji by Tubebackr. Special thanks to our sponsor, Paper Planes Ed.