On February 14, 2018, Concordia’s Career and Planning Services (CAPS), in collaboration with the Student Success Center, presented the Teaching in Cegeps Career Panel Discussion. Catered to graduate students interested in pursuing careers as Cegep teachers, this panel featured presentations by speakers from five institutions (Angela Burgos from Centennial College, Anthony Singelis from Champlain College, Andréa Cole from Dawson College, Teresa Berghello from John Abbott College; and Ioanna Barkoulas from Marianopolis College), followed by a Q&A session.
Here are some of the general tips shared by these speakers:
- Always follow the instructions when applying.
If the instructions to apply for a position mention to send your CV through a portal on an establishment’s website, then submit your application through that portal, and not in person or by mail. Not following the directions will not only give a bad first impression but will also result in your application being void.
- Ensure that you possess the academic credentials required for the position before submitting your application.
If a position requests an MA or PhD degree in a certain field, and/or professional experience – as an artist, for instance – , then make sure you do have these credentials before submitting your application. Do not add a degree or professional qualification that you do not have. Even if you pass the interview and the recruiters are very pleased with your personality and answers, any job offer will be withdrawn if you do not fulfill the academic credentials for the position.
- Good English communication skills (or French, in the case of French Cegeps) are imperative.
Cegep students must pass an English or French exam by the end of their studies as a requirement to obtain their college diploma. Cegep teachers must thus be able to identify and correct spelling and grammatical mistakes when grading students’ work so as to support and prepare them for that event (as well as for the continuation of their educational and/or professional careers).
- Teaching experience is important but can be acquired in different ways.
Cegeps are looking for candidates with teaching experience, such as tutoring, teaching assistantships, or teaching a different subject/at a different level (e.g.: high school).
- Engagement in the community is also important.
What do you do for relaxation? Are you part of an association or a club? Are you a team player? Cegep teachers will be called to get involved in the local community in a variety of ways (e.g.: Model UN conferences, robotics club, etc.). The hiring committees are thus looking for individuals that are comfortable and enjoy working in collaboration with others.
- The best times to apply are April-May and November-December.
Grab the opportunities when they come up! However, you can also apply all year-round even if there are no available positions at that moment. Your CV will join the pool of applicants.
What does the hiring process look like?
- Cegeps usually request a CV and a cover letter with the application.
The elements specifically required in the cover letter for each college and position will usually be mentioned in the job posting. However, during the presentation, Ms. Barkoulas indicated that individuals applying to Marianopolis are usually required to provide a statement of teaching philosophy (e.g.: how does one want to reach out to one’s students?), while Mr. Singelis specifically mentioned that this practice is discouraged when applying to Champlain, especially if the applicant just graduated from University, as it won’t be perceived as genuine.
- The style of interview varies according to the institution and position.
Sometimes topics and questions to be covered during teaching simulations will be given ahead of time, while other times it’ll be given right before the beginning of the interview. In the case of creative arts discipline, you might be asked to give a short presentation to a class, to go to a vernissage to give a critique, or to prepare a 15-minute presentation of your work for the hiring committee.
- If you do not know the answer, just be honest.
Your evaluation starts from the moment HR calls; if they ask you a question for which you don’t know the answer, don’t lie. Simply be honest and explain why.
- They will try to throw you off.
During the interviews, and especially during teaching simulations, the interviewers will attempt to throw you off. If you screw up, stay calm and find a way to turn the situation in your favour instead. Meltdowns are guarantees that you won’t be taken.
N.B. – Centennial College: Centennial College is a smaller institution focusing on a selection of students that lack either the motivation or organizational skills normally required to enter other colleges. They require a higher amount of class organization and a more business-like environment in the classroom.
What can applicants expect once they are hired:
- You must be able to adapt to a new audience.
Cegep teachers deal with a different audience than that generally found in Quebec’s Universities. Students attending Cegeps are often younger (most enter right after finishing high school, between the ages of 16 and 18), and are thus at a period in their lives when they are still acquiring their independence, exploring their interests and career options, and testing their limits. Being aware of the developmental issues of that age range and being able to adapt to them is important. While disciplining might be more often required, you must also recognize when you are out of your depth (e.g.: asking a student to step out, calling security, etc.).
N.B.: You can’t fight cellphones anymore! If students are on their cellphones, it’s because you, as a teacher, don’t do your job properly. Take it as a sign that you must make your lectures more interesting!
- In most institutions, you will be paired up with a mentor for the first few years.
For the first few years, a new Cegep teacher will be paired up with a mentor. The focus will mostly be on improving their teaching, with formative evaluations.
- Obtaining tenure will take at least a few years in most cases.
A Cegep teacher will keep a part-time status for a few years before obtaining tenure. Part-time can mean only one course, or full-time hours and pay. The amount of time required before obtaining tenure varies by institutions and programs (at least three years, but it can take more than five years in some cases).
- Whatever you can get, take…
…even if it is a replacement position! It’ll allow you to get your foot in the door and have priority over new applicants. However, keep in mind that as part-time, you must reapply for the available courses/positions every semester. If you forget to apply one time, the institution won’t have the choice but to take other applicants for that semester instead.
- You might teach in more than one discipline.
Even if your focus is on, let’s say, cinema, you might be called to teach core courses such as English and Humanities (Philosophy), or courses from other disciplines. Do not get discouraged! Instead look at it as a way to diversify your interests and skills.
For more information about Teaching in Cegep, you can consult the Emploi Cégep website (available both in English and in French).
To look for available positions, you can consult each institution’s employment page or visit AMEQ’s website.