There is no doubt that the months immediately after Christmas can be a challenge on initial teacher education (ITE) courses. Workloads seem to increase, responsibilities and challenges on placements can rise, and if you didn’t succumb to the bugs your pupils so generously shared with you before Christmas the chances are you’re struggling to stay in tip top health now. Add into this mix the need to seek and successfully apply for a job for September and it can all seem too much.
So what do you need to do to make sure your efforts are rewarded? Some top tips to help see you through…
– Don’t panic! There will undoubtedly be people on your course who start applying for jobs relatively early and some may even be successful in securing their perfect post. But there is time. It’s important not to take just any job, so choose your target jobs wisely.
– Know where to look for jobs! Here at eTeach we work directly with over 7,500 schools and colleges, so we’re a great place to start – why not have a look around now?
– Follow the guidance on applying precisely. This may sound obvious, but those doing the shortlisting really don’t want to plough through, for example, CVs, if they haven’t been requested.
– Get to know the school you’re applying to so that you can tailor your application appropriately. Those reading through application forms will be able to spot a generic application a mile off and it’s likely to sink to the bottom of the pile unless you are exceptional.
– Keep your application lean and focused. Do what you’re asked to do in order to demonstrate your learning and development to date.
– Clean up your digital footprint if necessary! You may well be the perfect person for the job, but if your public persona on social media is dubious, schools are less likely to take you on. At the very least, consider whether your privacy settings are set at the right level for you. It is not unknown for people to lose their jobs because of what is deemed inappropriate social media/blog content. In addition, be extremely careful about sharing your thoughts online about your placement school(s) and initial teacher education. Schools will not want to risk taking someone on who might be overly critical about their efforts to a wide audience (and again, it is not unknown for trainees to be asked to leave their course for doing just this). The bottom line is that the school must see that you are able to uphold the standards for teachers.
– Great teachers are reflective teachers. Show that you understand this by demonstrating the ways in which you have grown through your own reflective practice.
– Get the basics right – clean clothes and shoes, and well-groomed hair and nails will be noticed.
– Be interested in the process. Your warmth will come over through your body language, eye contact and willingness to smile!
– Remember that you are looking for a school that will support you through your induction and set you off to a flying start in your teaching career. It’s not simply about whether you are right for the school but whether the school is right for you. Ask about your mentor and how your wider professional and personal development will be supported, and how the school looks after the wellbeing of staff. The answers will give you a strong idea about the ethos of the school and whether you will fit in.
– Nearly all interviews involve a teaching slot. While it’s important to prepare for this and stick closely to the brief you are given, don’t spend so much time perfecting your plans that you don’t prepare sufficiently for the panel interview. The time you spend teaching will only give interviewers certain information. Even more can be gleaned from the answers you give to their questions.
– Make sure you can answer questions on why you want the job, what you can offer the school, and possibly even how you support your own wellbeing.
If you are fortunate enough to get the first job you go for, that’s great. But there’s no shame in not striking it lucky. Sometimes the job hunt can be a marathon and not a sprint. Review your application, reflect on your interview performance and try, try again. Good luck!
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.