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Getting Started

Teach in Ontario

To begin preparing for your job search, a good first step is to consider all of your strengths, and to use those strengths to develop a self-inventory. A self-inventory looks at the skills you have gained through previous experience. Even if you have a resume and/or cover letter drafted, you can use your self-inventory to improve it.

It is important to consider the following when developing a self-inventory:

In order to draft an effective resume, cover letter, and even give a strong interview, you need to know the answers to these questions. The time you spend on your self-inventory is the foundation for all of the steps that come afterwards in your job search.

Begin your self-inventory by creating some headings under which to list and sort your skills as you reflect on the questions above:

Job-related skills
These are the skills you have developed related to the teaching profession, such as lesson planning, assessment design, differentiated instruction, classroom management etc.

Adaptive skills/personality traits
These are your personal traits that you use day-to-day in the workplace; they are what make you “uniquely you” and allow you to be a successful teacher (e.g., enthusiasm, optimism, honesty, compassion).

Transferable skills
There are many skills that can be developed in other careers that are relevant to teaching. To name a few: communication, organization, research, problem-solving, and leadership skills. Depending on how much actual teaching experience you have, you may need to also focus on this category of skills and think carefully about what you bring to teaching that you have developed in your previous work.


The following chart can be used as a reference to help you uncover your skills and strengths. Using these headings, list the skills you used for each work or volunteer position you have held. Be as thorough as possible. Brainstorm with a fresh perspective.

Skills Valued by Employers

Job-Related Skills (Teaching Skills)

Adaptive Skills/Personality Traits

Transferrable Skills

Assessment and evaluation – knowledge of a variety of diagnostic, formative and summative assessment tools and their role in driving instruction

Instructional strategies – expertise with a variety of instructional strategies that address diverse learning needs

Diversity and equity – knowledge required to address diverse needs of students regarding language, learning needs, gender, race, religion, physical and emotional needs, etc.

Differentiated instruction – knowledge required to provide a variety of instruction and assessment strategies to address the diverse needs of students

Curriculum – knowledge of ministry curricula and reporting expectations

Special education – understanding of policy and procedure for identifying, teaching and reporting on students with special needs

Classroom management – able to create and maintain a positive learning environment and successfully resolve classroom discipline issues

Enthusiastic – demonstrate desire to work with students and colleagues to improve student achievement

Optimistic – expectations for students and self are high, but achievable

Confident – demonstrate ability to begin assignment immediately and manage issues appropriately

Responsible – demonstrate willingness to perform teaching duties and be accountable to employer, parents, community

Adaptable – able to adjust to change and uncertainty with composure and initiative

Reflective – able to respond to feedback with reflection and willingness to modify practices if needed

Risk-taker – able to demonstrate innovative and creative thinking and to model this behaviour for students

Accountable – demonstrate a desire to share information with parents, colleagues and community to improve student achievement

Open-minded – willingness to accept suggestions and incorporate the ideas of others

Shows initiative – demonstrate an ability to assess situations and identify and apply solutions

Sound judgment – able to make sensible decisions

Reliable – take responsibility for completion of duties

Life-long learner – willingness to set personal learning goals and to seek professional development opportunities pertaining to those goals

Communication – ability to share information in an appropriate manner with students, parents, colleagues and school community

Management – able to manage diversity of needs of students and create a positive learning community

Problem-solving – ability to recognize a problem, the cause and the solution in a manner that meets the needs of all concerned

Organizational – Ability to meet teaching, assessment, and reporting needs as well as those of students

Analytical – ability to assess situations, make decisions and achieve solutions

Team-building – ability to create cooperative learning environment in the classroom and work well with colleagues on initiatives which improve student achievement


Once you have completed your self-inventory, look for skills that occur again and again. These are the strengths that you will highlight in your resume, cover letter, and interviews. Don’t stop there, though! Ask others for their thoughts about your strengths and skills: co-workers, former employers, friends, relatives. What they say may surprise you or cause you to think more carefully about another skill or trait that you hadn’t considered.

Once it is completed, this self-inventory is a tool that you can often refer to as you draft/revise your resume and cover letter, and as you prepare for interviews. The more detail you have in your self-inventory, the more material you will have for your interview.

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