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...
WHERE DO I START???
1. KEEP EVERYTHING
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...
2. CREATE A PORTFOLIO
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
Curriculum & Planning
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.
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!