From Portfolios to Key Selection Criteria and Interview Questions, here are some tips and pointers for:

So, you are coming up to the end of your degree and it's that DREADED, totally EXCITING time, where you begin applying for teaching positions!! 
Or maybe you are still completing your teaching degree but want to get ahead of the rest? The common questions is...



Firstly, you should be keeping everything that you have accumulated over the years whilst you have been studying and on your teaching rounds. I know us teachers like to hold onto things (and may have the potential to hoard) but seriously... it's for good reason!

Create a folder/binder with all your bits and pieces - practicum reports, letters and cards from students, work samples, lesson plans you have taught and/or created, reflections and any teaching resources that your supervising teacher has given you.

Take photos during your practicum of displays, students work samples, student activities and ask your supervising teacher to take photos of you whilst you are teaching and keep them in a safe place for later. 

This will become more clear as to why, later on in this post...


Your portfolio is designed to reflect YOU and to assist you in your interview. Some teachers choose to create a digital portfolio, while others prefer to create a physical folder/binder.
I chose to create a folder when I was at uni, however in recent years I have used my iPad.
Here is a glimpse of the portfolio I created whilst at uni.

Throughout this folder I discussed my teaching philosophies and included examples (photos, practicum reports, supervising teacher comments, lesson plans) to support my statements.
I had a page for each interview area;
  • My Teaching Strengths & Philosophy
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Classroom Environment
  • Behaviour Management
  • Curriculum & Planning
  • Assessment
  • ICT
This is great to refer to when you're in an interview! (More on that a bit later).

3. KSC (Key Selection Criteria)

Don't expect to get it done in a few days
For those of you who are familiar with the Key Selection Criteria required to apply for a teaching job, you will know that it is not something that you can create in one go, or even one weekend! Allow yourself PLENTY OF TIME!!!! (It's painful).
It took me WEEKS to perfect mine. But never fear, once you have the completed it, you will be able to use the base of it for years to come as the questions very rarely change from school to school (public system). -As you gain more teaching experience, you will just have to add in more examples and maybe change the tense from being a graduate to an experienced teacher-
Graduate positions tend to have the same 5-6 questions so you can pretty much use the same one for most of the government jobs you apply for. Which leads me to my next point...

Don't forget to alter it to suit the school you are applying for!!!
Selection panels DO NOT want to read generic KSC nor do they want to see that someone has accidentally forgotten to change the name of the previous school they applied for. 

Do your research
Look at the school's website. Read their mission statement. What is the school currently working on? Do they have any programs that make them unique? Refer to this in your cover letter or KSC. Tell them that you are excited at the prospect of working at their school and implementing such programs as you have had experience with this before, or it is something that you are interested in.

Don't be afraid to use dot points
Reading slabs of information is boring. Make your KSC stand out by putting key words in BOLD or using italics. Dot points are great for listing examples of how you have achieved each standard without overloading the reader.

Proof Read it!
Or get someone else with a fresh set of eyes to go over it a few times before you send it. There is nothing worse than someone addressing their cover letter: 'To the principle' instead of 'PRINCIPAL'!!!

Don't copy your friends!!
You want your KSC to stand out from the rest. Make it unique! Make it YOU! Talk about YOUR philosophy and experience and what YOU believe in- not your mates'! Remember, you are very likely to be applying for jobs in the same region as your uni mates/teacher friends. You don't want to get caught out with the same KSC as other applicants. It's not a good look and more than likely won't get you through to the interview stage.

4. Ask for a school tour

Ring up and ask if they will be conducting any school tours - prior to the KSC due date. This is a great opportunity for you to meet the Principal or AP in an informal setting and find out about the school. It also gives you an opportunity to eliminate the school if you don't like something about it. Eg; You may not like open learning and only then find out that it is an open learning space school. 

5. The Interview

Well done! You've made it this far! By now you have probably received a phone call asking you to come in in a few days time for an interview. Apart from the obvious, (dress smart, don't turn up late and BREATHE) here are some tips to help you get prepared.

Take something with you; iPad or Portfolio
It's often easier to talk about something when you have it in front of you. This is where your portfolio will come in handy. Take it to the interview and refer to it when appropriate. 
In my most recent teaching interview, I used my iPad. Prior to the interview I created some folders in it with photos and examples of each key area; Assessment, Literacy, Numeracy, Classroom Set Up, Student Management Charts, Anchor Charts. etc
As questions came up I would discuss what I have previously implemented in my classroom and then quickly showed examples of it using the photos. This takes the attention (and 3 sets of eyes) off you whilst the panel are looking at the photos on the iPad and gives you some time to talk about it as they are busy looking at your evidence.

This is why taking photos and keeping everything is so important whilst at uni!

Re-read your KSC again on the day of the interview to make sure its fresh in your head.

Create a list of possible questions and record some answers to them
The questions you will get asked are usually very similar to those that you have just answered in your KSC. There will usually be one about Assessment and Data, Literacy and/or Numeracy, Behaviour Management, Differentiation and catering for the varying ability levels in a class and then some more personal ones like 'What are your strengths/weaknesses?'. Write down a list of possible questions and record your answers to them. Chances are, you will be asked them on the day.

Have examples ready to go
Think of EXACT scenarios and examples that you have had for each of the question areas and write them down. This will come in handy later on and will eliminate you being put on the spot in the interview room.

Take your examples and practise question sheet in with you 
You are handed a sheet with the questions you will be asked in the interview and allocated 10 minutes PRIOR, to get your head around things BEFORE you go in! This time is GOLD!!! Use it wisely. Have your little note sheet handy to jot things down in case you go blank during this time. You can refer to this sheet at any time during the interview.

Ask questions - better still have one ready to go
This is your time to show the panel that you REALLY want this job and you have done your research. Tell them that you have looked on their website and noticed that they .... and this is something you are really looking forward to implementing should you be given the opportunity. Ask them a question about it. Show you care and are genuinely interested in working at their school.

And finally...

Be YOU and don't give up! It may take you a few interviews and 20 job applications, but it will be worth it in the end. Try not to be disheartened. If you aren't even getting to the interview stage, chances are you need to take another look at your KSC and give it a tweak. If you have some friends already in teacher positions, ask them to have a read of it and get some feedback. It's tough competition out there. Remember, for each position there is probably an average of 50 or so applicants so that is all the more reason to make yours STAND OUT!

Good luck! And please, leave a comment or any questions you have about this topic below - I am happy to help!

Hi all!

The lovely Alexis from Laugh Eat Learn is in the process of creating a new blog design for me!

 Make sure you pop back soon to see the final result!

Place Value: Number Expanders and a FREEBIE!

We have been consolidating our knowledge of Place Value in Grade 2 this term with 3 and 4 digit numbers (and beyond). The children showed a fantastic understanding of reading, ordering and making 3 and 4 digit numbers however when it came to renaming, we noticed they were having some difficulty.

So... I created these number expanders to allow the children to see that numbers can be made in different ways - not only using hundreds, tens and ones. They proved to be a great tool during these sessions as they practised making numbers in a variety of ways.

We then used concrete materials such as MAB or Base 10 blocks and placed them on a Place Value Mat. Students compared their findings with other students in the grade with the same number. It allowed them to physically see the ways that the same number can be made.


Here is my number expanders pack that is available in my TPT store. It includes 2, 3 and 4 digit number expanders - pre-filled and blank with a variety of different number combinations and includes a breakdown of how to use them in your classroom.

You can grab your copy of my NUMBER EXPANDERS HERE


Here are my PLACE VALUE MATS and they are FREE for you to use with your grade :)


Over the years, I have experimented with a variety of different assessment tools and strategies for improving my students' reading.

Some worked and some didn't. Some were extremely time consuming, some weren't extensive enough. Eventually, after some tweaking and input from my work colleagues, I have developed a set of Guided Reading and Conferencing documents that work for me and my students. I have seen some fabulous results in the process as well - which lets face it, is the whole point behind these conferences!

What is Guided Reading?

The term 'Guided Reading' can mean multiple things to teachers, depending on your experiences and the education system to which you belong to. Essentially, Guided Reading is when you work closely with a small group of children who have similar reading abilities and therefore, reading goals. I try to limit my groups to no more than 6 children to keep it more intimate and special. The children adore this time with their teacher. It is an opportunity for them to show me what they can do and to learn in a more focused and targeted way.

How do I set up Guided Reading?

Create your groups
Firstly, you will need to divide your grade into groups according to their reading levels. They don't all have to be on the same reading level, however group them as closely as you can.
I usually have around 5-6 groups all up. Give each group a name. This year, we studied an integrated topic on Sea Life so I decided to go for a Sea Life theme and named all my groups different sea animals. You could name them colours (Red Group, Green Group), numbers (Group, 1, 2 etc) or choose a theme of your own. 

Set up a Guided Reading folder, binder or book.
This will be your bible for the entire year. We are all different and some things that work for some, may not work for others. For me, a bound book works! I can add pages to it if I choose. I don't have to worry about heavy folders or plastic pockets and taking documents out. I can just get straight to it. 

Guided Reading Assessment Book
Inside my book is the following:
-Reading Groups List (Group names and their levels as well as the students in each group)
-Weekly Overview Sheet (Plans and resources needed)
-Guided Reading Group Observation Notes or Checklist Templates - I print lots! and double sided. 

Weekly Overview Cover Page
I divide this book into sections for each of my groups and I have a cover page for each. Then I laminate the group cover sheet so that it works as a divider. I place the blank notes and checklist templates in behind each cover page.
Group Cover Page (also used a divider)  
Plan your activities 
Next, you will need to have an idea about what you would like each group to focus on. I have such a spread of reading abilities in my class. I have one student who is working on alphabet sounds and getting her mouth ready to sound out words and then I have my extension group who are reading PM Benchmark level 30+ and who are essentially just working on comprehension, fluency and expression. This is why it is so important to target your teaching accordingly and I find that these sessions are the best way to do it.
I use my Weekly Overview Sheets to record all this information so I can see what my week will look like at a glance.

Get your resources ready for the week
Once you have planned your focus for each group, you will need to get the books and resources ready that you will be using with them. Your resources will vary according to your group abilities. 
I have a few drawers filled with my Guided Reading resources. It contains things like:
-Magnetic Letters
-Magnetic mini whiteboards and whiteboard markers
-Sight Words Flash Cards
-Post it notes

Decoding Strategy Posters - Version 1
Decoding Strategy Posters - Version 2

Comprehension Strategy Posters - Version 1

Comprehension Strategy Posters - Version 2
I get all my book sets ready for the week that I will be reading with each group as well.

Your Guided Reading Session

Once the majority of your class have begun working on their Independent tasks - whether it be Independent Reading, Buddy Reading or other literacy related activities, bring your group to the mat (or Guided Reading Table).

Use a Visual to ensure the other children know you are busy
I like to wear my Ladybug Headband at this point as it symbolises that I am busy and working with a group of students. When I wear this headband, my students know not to interrupt me - I am invisible! Haha!
These sessions give you an opportunity to listen to the children read and model good reading habits. You can choose to conduct 'Round Robin Reading' which is when each student has a turn to read as the group follows along, reading with their eyes - OR you can pair them up and they can read aloud to their buddy or read in their heads 'back to back' (with their backs touching).

Most of the time, I will use class sets of levelled books in my sessions so each child has the same book. PM books are my favourites :P

With my Emergent Readers, I like to just look at the pictures first. We pretend we are 'picture detectives' and go through every page together and talk about what is happening. This is the perfect time to immerse the children in the language and the vocab of the book. It will then assist them with decoding the more challenging topic words.

As the children read, I am giving lots of positive feedback and encouragement. When they Self Correct, I ALWAYS comment on how fantastic it was that they realised they made a mistake and went back to re-read. When they slip up I stop them and ask, 'Did that make sense?' 'What else could go there that makes sense?'

For you more competent readers, my focus is usually on comprehension. We might be using sticky notes to 'leave tracks' or we might be making connections or inferences. In these sessions, we talk about the strategies (I use my comprehension posters as a visual) and then we practise using them together.

While the children are reading, I am recording some notes about what they are doing and what they need to work on.
Guided Reading Group Observations Notes Template

Give your students a goal
Once each child has had an opportunity to read, I will then give them a Reading Goal to work on. This is usually one that I have already planned for them but sometimes, it might be one that I just decided on then based on the way they read to me. (I use my Reading Goal Reminder Sips for this.) These goals are pre-printed and then stapled into their take home diaries so that they can show their parents and practise their reading goal at home as well. 

Reading Goal Reminder Slips
Reading Goal Reminder Slips
My Guided Reading Sessions usually take 10-15 minutes per group and I would only get through one (two at the most) a day. Once I have finished with one group, I usually then complete an Individual Reading Conference with a different student.

I have created a pack which includes all my Guided Reading templates and checklists as well as extensive teacher notes to assist you to set up your folder.

It includes 3 different ability levels to cater for differentiation in your grade and covers 
PM Benchmarking levels 1-25 and Fountas & Pinnell levels A-T.

Here is a closer look at what is included in the pack:

Dollar Dazzlers! Teacher Tip Linky!

Hello everyone!

It's that time again for our monthly link up, where fellow Aussie Teachers come together to share with you our Teacher Tips - straight out of our classroom and into yours!

It's brought to you by The Australian Teachers Blog! Make sure you are following the blog on BlogLovin' and also their Australian Teachers Facebook Page here!

Last month, I talked about my Grip Mats and how I use them to stop that awful clanging sound of dice hitting the tables during maths games.

You can read more about that here: Grip Mats for Dice Games

This week, I am going to share with you some of the awesome CHEAP finds I have gathered over the years from my local $2 shops, reject shops, Daiso and one of my favourite stores.... IKEA!

Teacher Tip: Dollar Dazzlers!

I don't know about you, but when I trawl through the above stores, I am often looking for things that I can use in the classroom. Most of the time however, I just can't think of ways that the items on the shelves in front of me can be used. These are some items that I did happen to find a use for...


I love Ikea! I can spend hours there! A few years ago, I bought these spice holders. I use them to store my clips and pins in them. 
The greatest thing is, they are MAGNETIC! 
Woop! Woop!
I store them up high on my whiteboard :)

$2 shops/ Reject Shops/ Cheap Stores

I picked up these fly swats a few years back and the kids just LOVE them! We use them for playing games like 'Tic Tac Toe' and 'Sight Word Swat'. WARNING: I have rules when using these as sometimes the children can be a bit rough with them.


Lanyards are great to have in the classroom. I use mine for my Expert Tags. (See this post to grab your FREE copy).   

You can use them as toilet passes or for your STAR OF THE DAY/ WEEK.


These are fantastic for measuring! I have used these snakes to teach informal units of measure with my Grade Prep (kinder) students.

You can find activities, worksheets and lesson plans using these in my Measurement Pack - Found here.

I recently caught up with some beautiful Blogger friends from Melbourne - I still have to blog about this so I'm not going to post the pics up just yet....

Anyways, whilst we were chatting and sharing (as we do) Jemima from Jem's Bright Buttons, showed me one of her recent purchases. It was this fantastic MAGNETIC container! Well, I just HAD to have it, so I too, went to Daiso to grab it. The kids love it as well :)

I hope you have grabbed yourself some ideas today that you can also use in your classroom. Make sure you go back to the Linky to read the other Aussie Teacher Tips! There are some great ones this week!

Five for Friday!!!

It's FRIDAY!!!!! And time for another Five For Friday Post! I am back in the game this week after having a terrible flu and a perforated ear drum...Y.U.C.K! I had the entire week of last week to rest and recover so I have lots of catching up to do...

And now... for my Five For Friday Post!!

1. I have some BIG news...

Shaun and I are ENGAGED! I'm so excited to announce this to you all! Our Wedding is scheduled for July next year - we are so pumped! We are going to be getting married in beautiful Thailand :) 

2. 100 Days of School!

We had our 100 Days of School Celebration today! Some of the children dressed up as though they were 100 years old. Others wore tops with 100 buttons and some wore $100 bills! We made Fairy bread with hundreds and thousands, and counted out 100 Fruit loops and made them into necklaces. We read Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge and talked about what we might look like and be like when we are 100 years old. Then the children drew themselves and wrote about it. We ended the day with a dance off - of course!
I got some great ideas from Miss Jones' Creation Station - and her pack is FREE! 

3. I have created some NEW resources! :) 

Punctuation Posters - These posters come in a chalkboard and without chalkboard version and are available here. Each pack has 12 posters included in them.

2D Shape Posters: These are my favourites! They can be found here. There are 8 different posters included in this pack. Each with a different shape and description.

3D Shape Posters: These are my favourites! They can be found here. There are 10 different posters included in this pack. Each with a different shape and description.

Dotted Thirds: Lined Paper with Sky, Grass, Ground: This packet was actually a request from one of my customers. I created it especially for her and then realised there were many of you that found it useful too! It is available here.

If you have a request, please email me at

I am happy to create resources based on your personal needs and designs :)

4. Aussie Teacher Tips Linky

If you haven't already checked out the NEW Australian Teachers Blog - you must do! It has been created by a group of Aussie teacher bloggers who have joined forces to bring you the latest tips, resources, ideas and general teacher talk especially for Australian teachers!

On the 26th of every month we are hosting a Teacher Tips Linky on the blog so make sure you head over to take a sneak peak each month!


I am going to end todays post with this little quote. I hope this inspires some of you AND your students of course, to remember that being an INDIVIDUAL is what makes you, YOU! It's what sets us apart from the rest. It is important not to conform to what others are doing and stay true to yourself! So remember.... An ORIGINAL is worth more than a COPY!
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