Friday, 20 June 2014

"Please just give me a job!" Part 2: The application form

So many things can go wrong at this stage - I have so many friends who I know are brilliant teachers, but they didn't get shortlisted for interview because their application forms didn't meet the mark. I feel like I have a lot of advice to offer from 1. personal experience (albeit only a little) and 2. the countless years' of experience from friends and relatives who are teachers, deputies, heads and governors themselves. I applied to six schools and was shortlisted every time, so I feel my application technique (if there is such a thing) is considerably strong, thanks to these tips!

*** Four things to remember when writing an application form ***
(Did those asterisks jazz it up as appropriately as I had intended?)

1. Change the structure of your personal statement accordingly
Once you've spent the arduous hours planning and writing your personal statement, it seems like an ordeal to rearrange it for each school to which you apply - but I promise it is worth it. Not all job adverts do, but most come with either a job or person specification, or both. If you write your personal statement to match each criterion in the order it is listed, it makes it much easier for the school to compare you against their specification; they will also know you have gone to the effort to look it up and demonstrate how you fit their school specifically.

For example, the specification may be under different headings, such as 'Qualifications', 'Experience', 'Personal Qualities' etc. You could, therefore, arrange your personal statement under each of these headings too. 

Each heading will have more specific criteria, such as 'The candidate should have recent and relevant knowledge of the new curriculum', or, 'The candidate should be able to work both independently and as part of a team'. As each specification is laid out, make sure each of your statements correlate to it: 'I have recent and relevant knowledge of the new curriculum - in my most recent teaching practice, I taught the Stone Age to my Year 3 class as part of...' or, 'I am an independent worker; I am self-motivated and am always challenging myself. However, I also work well in a team. I have recently worked with colleagues to coordinate a trip to...' etc.

2. Talk about your personal experience - relate everything back to something
I'm sure I could have used less words to communicate what I mean here. But I touched on it above - don't just say 'I work well in a team'; write about a specific situation which demonstrates your skills of collaboration and cooperation. Sometimes, especially as an NQT, it is almost impossible to back up some points; for example, communication with parents, or long-term assssment. In this case, write about any relevant experiences you've had (outside school, perhaps?) and describe your willingness to learn more in that area.

3. Personalise your statement
If you don't mention the school name at ALL, they will almost definitely assume it's a standard statement that you've sent to every school to which you've applied. This may be true, but don't make it so obvious! Something as simple as beginning or ending your statement with 'I'd love to work at XXXXX School because' will already make you stand out. Go the extra mile by including something to show you've done your research. 'Personally, I particular agree with your school value [list specific school value] because I believe [explain why that particular value/rule is important to you.' Schools really do appreciate the extra effort. 

4. Proof read, proof read, PROOF READ
I can't stress this point enough. I've heard of heads who throw application forms away as soon as they spot a spelling or grammar mistake - why would you want someone teaching your children who can't write to a high standard themselves? Get at LEAST two other people to look it over. If you're an NQT, somebody at uni should look at it for you. Also, read it out loud to someone, or get someone to read it to you - it's often easier to hear if flows well this way.

Here are some tips from other people:

It does feel weird bigging yourself up - NOBODY likes doing it (it's not a particularly British thing to do!) - but it is important to show yourself off. Find the right balance between "I'm willing to work hard, you don't want to miss out on me" and "I'm so awesome even if you don't pick me I'll get a job elsewhere so I don't really care".

Good luck!

View "Please just give me a job!" Part 1: Choosing the right school here:

Find me on Twitter at @_MissieBee (previously @Miss_RQT)

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Making mistakes

Of these, I have made many. I thought I had it all sorted within the first few days - where the children were meant to be and when, where I was meant to be and when, all the different codes (car park, school entrance, photocopier, computer log in), where everything was... etc. Little did I know, my brain was so full of all those things that some of it was falling out.

Last week, I forgot to collect the children in from break - I was so busy faffing around preparing for the next lesson, 15 minutes felt like 15 seconds. Five minutes after I was meant to collect them, one of the Year 6s ran in: "Miss, you forgot about us!" A number of expletives nearly passed my lips.

My first day back after half term, and I was told we had class photos throughout the morning, therefore disturbing lessons. The assembly was also cancelled, so I had an unexpectedly large amount of time with my class for which I hadn't planned anything. The result? Reading our class book for THIRTY MINUTES. My poor throat was not pleased. Boy, do I hate the sound of my own voice.

I can't tell you the number of times I have been into my colleagues' classrooms to 1. admit to a mistake I have made, 2. apologise for it and 3. ask them how to rectify it; whether it be not noticing that one child has managed to last a whole lesson without doing ANY work - how did I miss that?! (see Exhibit A in 'The dreaded phone call' blog post) or telling off a child for something I later found out they hadn't done - oops?

I'm trying to tell myself it's a learning curve - with every mistake I make, I learn from it and won't make it again. But isn't it unfair on these children that I am making my mistakes on them? As a colleague said - the children make mistakes every day. Why can't we?

Find me on Twitter @Miss_RQT (previously @MissNQT)