I am chuffed to bits to tell you that I have just secured my *first ever* drama teaching job. Hoorah! Delighted dancing around my study (above) occurred, let me tell you.
Most of you will be aware that I trained as a teacher in Australia, but almost immediately after graduating I moved over to the UK to be with my fiancé. This in itself was not a problem, however it added a little niggling feeling of “uh-oh, I don’t know how to do this” to the job application process. I went through some agencies to get work, but at the end of the day, it was still up to me to pull the goods out of the bag.
I thought I would share some tips that helped me prepare and attend my first ever teaching interview. There are so many interview guides out there, as I’m sure you’re aware, but these are 5 things I kept in mind, as a newly qualified teacher.
1. Get in contact with the school
Even though my recruitment agency set up the interview, I emailed the contact I was given, to introduce myself and to ask the world’s most general question – “is there anything I should bring with me?”. It might not be strictly necessary to do this to get the job, but the contact said – quote – it was “very thoughtful” and it paved the way for me to drop a couple more emails through in the coming days when more specific questions came up.
2. Practise Your Interview with Someone Friendly
This tip goes hand in hand with another tip: read the school’s Ofsted report. Just do it. That way, when your friend asks you why you want to work at the school, you can weave “well I read in your latest Ofsted report that the students here feel they can easily come to teachers when they need help, and that’s the kind of environment I want to work in” into your answer. Note: this question didn’t actually come up in my interview, but it was on the tip of my tongue, ready to go if it did. Practising my interview made me articulate why I thought I was right for the role, which meant I had some familiar responses already in my brain by the time the real thing came around.
3. Check Your Route to the School, Then Check it Again
The timing of my interview meant I didn’t have time to do a practise run to the school, but if I could have, I would have! I had to take the train, so I made sure I got the earlier train just in case Southeastern were having an off day. There is nothing worse than knowing you’re making a bad impression, even when it’s not strictly your fault. I Google Mapped my route on two different devices, then took a screenshot on my phone, in case my internet cut out. Luckily on the day, there was a hoard of students on the train with me, so I just followed them!
4. Plan Two More Activities Than You Need
In contrast to Australian schools, UK schools require you to teach an observed 30 minute lesson. In drama, in fact in most lessons, 30 minutes can whizz by without you realising, so I had to be super on the ball with my timings. To combat my nerves about this, I had a couple of extra activities and drama games up my sleeve that were specific and relevant to my topic (Melodrama), in case it all went to hell. Doing this made me feel confident that a) I could pull the lesson back from the brink if I needed to by swapping in and out some activities and b) there were a few different opportunities for my students to have some fun.
5. Remember – They Want You To Succeed
The first time I heard this, it was really a revelation. How powerful is it to realise that they’re actually sitting there, watching & judging you, and wishing you the best? That they want you to be the right person for the job. It totally changed my outlook on interviews. Instead of it being me vs The Big Scary School, it was more of a structured get-to-know-you session, where I could demonstrate a skill set I was confident of. Reminding myself of this throughout the morning made it easier to make some jokes, let my true personality shine through (uh-oh) and have a relatively relaxed chat with the other candidate. It didn’t totally take away the nerves, but it let me realise that the school wasn’t trying to catch me out. They were on my side.
I hope you find these tips useful! If you have any other teaching interview tips that you would like to share, please let me know in the comments. Also: if you’ve just got a new job, join the party here and say so! I will woot woot on your behalf!