Category Archives: job search
Since I’ve spent a few days hanging out at the school I will be teaching at, I thought it would be worthwhile checking in with what I felt an ideal school would be for me at the start of operation job search.
High expectations and high trust - Definitely feeling the weight of expectations, but also like that I am being given space to try out crazy ideas to see if/how they can work.
Connected – Principal blogs and is on twitter ‘nough said.
Collaborative – I can identify lots of people to learn from and with.
A culture of happiness – despite showing up just a few days before report comments were due in there was still lots of laughter in the staffroom and the kids were lovely too.
However the purpose of this post isn’t for me to affirm my decision to sign on with the school but rather to reflect on what I learned during the process of finding a teaching position. Because what I didn’t realize at the time was that the job search wasn’t just about finding employment, it was really about finding good leadership.
Now I’m not getting any delusions of grandeur but I do think that we need to rethink our traditional notions of leadership learning for teachers whereby you ‘do your time’ before being able to even think about what constitutes effective school leadership. We know those first few years in the profession will make or break a Beginning Teacher yet most of us will take a job, any job, without much thought about who we want to be as a teacher. This job first, professional development later is undoubtedly a reflection of the current job market as it is
When I was in the research stage of operation job search I ended up talking to a a couple of school leaders. Most of them said the same thing, be careful about which school you sign on with. At the time I was so worried about actually finding a job I almost missed an important lesson for any beginning/student teacher, think strategically about the people who you learn from.
The biggest thing I picked up hanging around the school for a couple of days not teaching was how the interactions the senior management team had a huge impact on classroom practice. The relationships between the school leaders and the teachers was a model for teachers to take back to the classrooms to interact with our students. Having a great model of relationship management will undoubtedly help me with my next learning step, creating a classroom environment where students can learn effectively.
The first few years in the profession undoubtedly has the steepest learning curve. There will be people who will contribute to your learning journey and people who will hinder it. Learning to identify and utilize the helpful people is a skill useful not just for teaching but for life. What’s been awesome about this particular journey is that I’ve met so many awesome people who inspire me and I hope to collaborate with next year even if we don’t happen to be in the same physical building or even time zone.
Is learning a bit like a twitter feed? The quality of your experience is first and foremost about finding great people to follow?
A few months ago I was wondering what on earth I was going to put in my first teaching CV, over the last few weeks I’ve had a steady stream of incoming visitors searching for info so thought I would put out there my advice.I don’t consider myself an expert in any way on CV writing and actually think it was my networking both offline and online which helped me secure interviews rather than my paperwork.
But what it is worth here are some for Beginning Teachers wondering what to put in their CV.
Please remember that some of the gimmicky advice in this post will be dated by next year and passée by 2013.
Before you write, research and think
I don’t think this advice will ever go out of date. Know the school you are applying for and also think long and hard about what makes you an awesome Beginning Teacher to have on staff. Because being a qualified teacher isn’t enough, you want have something special to offer a school.You need to work out what is it that is unique and awesome about you which would make a hiring panel go ‘wow this person would be ace!’ In my case I highlighted the Korean-speaking e-learning angle as being something unique but you’ll have your specialities too.
Personalized to the school
Each CV I wrote was specifically tailored to the school I was applying for. In fact I mentioned it on the front cover ‘Stephanie’s application for a position at ABC school’ to let anyone glancing at my CV know that I had taken the time to research and think about this school.
Relevant details only
Your CV is a way for a prospective employer to get a picture of you as a teacher and also as a person. Whether you are a career changer looking to keep your CV length down or someone looking for their very first job, make sure you include only the details that are relevant and up to date. Only include details from many years ago if it is relevant to the position you are applying for now. You’ve only got 3-4 pages to sell you an amazing fit for the school so use it wisely.
You want a section somewhere (preferably early on) telling the hiring panel where you completed your teaching placements, the length of the teaching placement, when you completed it, who your Associate Teacher was, what year level, and something you achieved while on your placement.
Photo of yourself
Some people are still wondering if you need a photo of yourself and the answer is most defintely yes! You want a photo of yourself because if you have been networking, then people might not remember your name but they are more will likely remember your face. Some people even joked I should include my avatar as I have such a strong digital presence. Make sure said photo has you looking professional rather than some sort of goofy tourist picture (easier said than done for some of us ;-)).
Ditch your sappy statement on teaching philosophy
I know your uni says that you need a statement on teaching philosophy (the school I won at position asked for it too). The problem with these philosophies is that every student teacher will say that they believe in child-centred learning and that every child is a special snowflake. The reason Beginning Teachers all end up sounding the same is because we don’t have enough experience to articulate our teaching philosophy without resorting to clichés. So my advice would be to ditch that section entirely especially when there are alternatives to convey what you are about as a teacher.
Quotes from thinkers who inspire you
This a good alternative to the teaching philosophy so long as you’re using good thinkers. But since you’ve been at university studying to be a teacher you should be able to identify good thinkers that inspire your teaching. So why not quote them? Even better have a nose around school websites, principal blogs etc. and find out who is inspiring them. It goes without saying that you should actually read the book you are quoting as someone might decide to ask you questions about your quotes (if I was on a hiring panel, that’s what I would be doing).
I picked this tip from @taratj, run your cover letter/application through a wordle as alternative to the teaching philosophy section. Your big words should convey what you feel is important as a teacher and ideally match the buzz words associated with the school. If not, then you need to rewrite your cover letter. Pro tip: make sure your wordle matches the school colours, you want to be showing how you blend into the culture of school. Also beware this trick will get old really, really fast.
Photos of kids doing stuff you are passionate about
That old writing adage, show don’t tell, is an important one. One of the student teachers in my course posted to Facebook a screen shot of kids performing in a play about the Rugby World Cup that was published in a local newspaper. The story featured shots he had taken (said Beginning Teacher is a professional photographer). My immediate reaction was put that in your CV! That capture told me about him as a teacher than any vanilla statement about teaching philosophy could. Wouldn’t it be cool for a school to have an amazingly talented photographer on staff as a Beginning Teacher in 2012?
Positive quotes from previous employers/teacher appraisals
If someone, especially an Associate Teacher, has written something awesome about you then quote that in your CV. Include the full report in your supporting documentation.
Get your paperwork organized
Having to download multiple files is annoying. It is better to save your application as one PDF file including your cover page, application form, CV and any supporting paperwork like written references transcripts, etc. you might include (formal appraisals from Associate Teachers are a good idea for Beginning Teachers). Make sure each page of your application is numbered, has your name on it and the position you are applying for.
A digital presence
This is probably advice for student teachers working the ICT angle and there will be schools that you are wasting time/space by including this information. However I’m of the belief that the traditional paper CVs are on the way out and that eventually your digital presence is going to get you a job (this has happened to me twice).
The cover page of my CV had a QR code which linked directly to a MyPortfolio page (if you don’t have a smartphone download a QR reader for your webcam here). I also mentioned the my porfolio page in my cover letter and in the contact details section of my CV because I wanted people to visit. On the MyPortfolio page I had videos of student learning, my blog’s RSS feed, appraisals from associate teachers and visiting lecturers, my graduating teachers standard e-portfolio, unit plans I was proud of etc. The bonus is it can be readily adapted for every school.
The other stuff…
Make sure your CV is well-laid out, not too wordy and can easily be photocopied. Also get a get a friend to take a look at your CV and check for any spelling/grammar mistakes that you and your spellcheck might of missed.
There’s no way to sugar-coat it, the job market for graduating teachers at the moment sucks. If you are lucky, you might end up getting a teaching job from your placement but don’t count on it. Right now there are too many teaching graduates and not enough jobs. A far cry from when my mother graduated Teachers College back in the 1970s and the government found her a job (though she did have my Dad to write a letter to get her out of country service).
While I’ve made no secret that social media got me my first teaching position, there’s a bunch of offline stuff Beginning Teachers can do to network if they aren’t interested in geeking out. Some of this is hard and you might feel a bit intimidated putting yourself out there. But any short term discomfort you might feel will be so worth it when you get the phone call offering you a job.
Job searching is about more than putting in applications
A lot of student teachers think that applying for a teaching job involves having a nice CV and cover letter, putting their application in and hoping for the best. In this job market, where there are dozens of applicants for each position, finding a job isn’t about having a nice CV and cover letter. It is about long-term relationship-building rather than short-term paper work. Although I did get a tip from University on the Hill to drop off your CV in person which is a nice touch I guess but too little too late.
The most interesting people in the world are those who are interested in you
This is the most important advice for Beginning Teachers, be passionate about the schools you are applying for! You don’t want a hiring panel to think of you as just another Beginning Teacher in a stack of CVs, you are a fabulous individual in your own right. Likewise if you are a on a hiring panel, you don’t want to hire someone who comes across as wanting to be hired by any school you want someone who is interested in the wonderful things going on in your school.
You can show interest by turning up to information meetings and asking good questions afterwards. School visits are good way to show interest but most students leave this until the end of the year when the CVs are arriving. There’s nothing to stop you starting early. Well before job search season (I’m talking June/July) knock on doors and ask to find out more about the schools you are interested in working for (also a good way to decide if you really want to apply to the school). Some schools will say no, and that’s ok, move on and find the ones who will say yes. They’ll likely be impressed by your initiative and interest, good qualities to mention when you apply for a position later in the year. It’s also a good way to practice for job interviews because it is a job interview!
Join your union, go to meetings
The first piece advice that one of the principals on my Teaching Experiences gave me and the other student teachers on placement was to join the union. She mentioned that she had hired a Beginning Teacger in part because she remembers meeting the teacher previously at an NZEI national conference. Going to union meetings shows you are interested in teaching and education issues and you get to meet real teachers who can also help with job hunting advice and getting you into their school on a visit (see above). The bonus is that both the NZEI and PPTA are free for student teachers to join so really there is no excuse.
Volunteer – but be prepared to stick with the commitment
A lot of student teachers volunteer at their schools after their placement has ended coaching sports, helping with production, or just doing general work (like laminating) for their Associate Teacher. It’s a good way to show dedication and interest in a school. Even if there isn’t a job going at the end of the year, you’ll have a great referee if you get to reference check stage. Always remember that it’s easier to get into a commitment than out of it.
Go to education-related community events
In my case as a geeky teacher I was attending InternetNZ’s nethui and educamps. The Emerging Leaders Symposium puts on Ignite evenings once a term in Auckland which anyone is free to attend. These evenings are a fantastic opportunity to meet future-focused teachers. It can be a bit intimidating being the sole student teacher in a room full of real teachers but don’t let that stop you! When I visited a school one of the teachers remembered me because we had both attended EducampAKL. All recognition is good when you want to stand out from the stack of CVs and be to sure to mention that you attended these events when you apply.
If you are doing the 3 year degree, get involved in campus life!
Your students association is a great place to gain leadership experience, demonstrate organisational skills and learn how to talk to
university bureaucrats grown ups. I couldn’t recommend involvement in your students association enough, especially for school leavers, and advise getting involved in the central campus organisation as well as the one based around your education faculty to show you have a life outside of teaching.
Go forth and volunteer to be a class rep, join a sports club, put yourself forward for student executive, write articles for your student magazine, help organize orientation week/student parties etc. to help pad out your CV, gain valuable life experience and meet people who will be life-long friends. Your 1st and 2nd year is the best time to be involved in campus life but by final year you want to be pulling back and thinking about finding a job.
Graduate Diplomas are about finding a teaching job and not much else
The one year Graduate Diploma isn’t the course to play the role of social butterfly/campus activity coordinator. For a start the short time frame makes for a heavy coursework burden which means you need to be really judicious with how you spend your time. Steer well clear of campus politics and social intrigues which suck time and energy you could spend doing more productive stuff. In fact that’s one of the reasons I think online study is better than campus-based instruction for the 1 year course.
Use any connection you can
Teaching is a really small world so don’t be afraid to tap into the the networks of the people on placement. One of the DPs on my first Teaching Experience referred me on to another school where a new principal had recently been appointed and would likely be looking for teachers at the end of the year. Did I name drop when I wrote my email to the school? Absolutely. I even went to my old intermediate school to see my old Principal who gave me some great advice.
Say you get to the start of next year’s school term and still don’t have a job. All is not lost. A lot of Beginning Teachers find that relief teaching is their path into full-time employment. Put your name down at schools and keep networking.
What a difference a day makes.
Last Sunday I was in one of those funks we fall into when we think things aren’t quite coming to plan. ZOMG what am I back at university again? What on earth am I doing writing about it on the internet? I’m never going get a job.
24 hours later I got a phone call that changed everything.
My first reaction was actually shock, followed by jubilation, relief and a bit sadness for the roads not taken.
Because this journey has been a long one. Last June I decided I needed a holiday from life, quit my job and booked a one-way ticket to the States with no real idea of where I was going.
Frustrated, bored and lacking in direction I needed to do something better, the problem was that I wasn’t sure what that something was. So I went off in search of it.
Yes I realize this is sounding like the plot of Eat, Pray, Love. I remember reading the book while I was travelling last year. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it either, but I understood why other people did like it, was stoked that others found it was inspirational, and moved on.
I was shocked by the huge backlash against Elizabeth Gilbert once the movie came out: her book advance paid for her travels, the plot was superficial self-absorbed chick lit at the worst, she was not a serious person. Which is amazing given the Gilbert’s previous success and the brilliant TED Talk she gave on nurturing creativity.
But the point of the book is that sometimes you need to lose everything to find something.
And about this time last year I was having one of those bad travelling days.
My wallet had been stolen, I’d dropped my camera, it was cold, I was hungry but that day it didn’t matter because if you can’t tell from the photo I found myself here. I found myself transfixed by the Israeli teenagers walking the groups of Auschwitz with flags draped with defiance, I don’t know, but they were there learning. We were there learning.
So that brief moment is part of the reason I’m off Wellington to teach next year.
Yes I sound like a bit like an aimless wanderer but not all those who wander are aimless. Even if we end up with some crazy looking maps out of the process.
View Grand World Trip in a larger map
‘Isn’t twitter just people talking about what they had for breakfast?’
That’s the most common reaction I get when I mention my Twitter addiction. A lot of people don’t understand why I would want to virtually hang out with people I’ve met and have a conversation. What could you possibly say in 140 characters that could be of any meaning?
Outside of amazing ideas to implement in the classroom, there’s advice, support, professional contacts and something any student teacher would want, job leads.
Because Steven Johnson was right, chance does favour the connected mind, and my job search is over with a permanent position for 2012.
All up I applied for just 5 jobs in total, was short-listed to four schools (three of which I had Twitter contacts), had the difficult task of having to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ to two amazing schools and ultimately received an offer from one of the schools I applied for hours after being interviewed.
Part of the reason I was able to generate a job offer was that I had a presence on MyPortfolio which the school who hired me also uses. University on the Hill doesn’t use MyPortfolio (something I will save for another rant) which gave me an immediate leg up over every other student teacher in the city who applied for this particular gig. How did I get a MyPortfolio account? Through sweet talking a contact I met on, yup you guessed it, Twitter.
But the thing with Twitter is that is so much more than just having a digital presence and general schmoozing. Instead of having just 2 Associate Teachers from my Teaching Experiences I have a network of hundreds of global educators who were contributing to my learning in just 140 characters.
I can talk about pedagogy without sounding like I was regurgitating a Whitney Houston song because of conversations I had on Twitter. Point to web tools I had implemented in my teaching practice which I found via Twitter. Most importantly I had a real idea about what the school I was applying about was about because I had already visited the school virtually through the classroom blogs which I found because the Principal of the school is on Twitter.
Now in case you are wondering I can do other things apart from tweet. My e-portfolio has videos I’ve made of student learning, great reports from my Associate Teachers and Visiting Lecturers, this blog demonstrates a commitment to reflective practice and having an Asian language is a big selling point to many New Zealand schools. All this gives me an added dimension to my e-learning obsession and in fact supports it.
So if you are passionate about arts, there’s a community somewhere go find it on Twitter.
If you are passionate about sports education, there’s a community somewhere go find it on Twitter.
Ditto for maths, science, social studies and just about every curriculum area, find or build your community on Twitter.
My advice to student teachers is simple.
Don’t spend most online life hanging out with other student teachers on Facebook pages closed off to the teaching world. Ultimately that community is constrained by one world view, that of the student teacher, which is a narrow perspective dominated by lectures and assignments. Your time in the teaching profession started when you enrolled in the course so come out from behind the digital walls and start connecting with the awesome teachers and principals out there on Twitter. You’ll learn heaps and all this learning might help you find a teaching job.
Wondering who to follow? Here’s just a few of the people who have helped me on my journey to start you off.
@heugumperNZ I owe you big time.
Thanks to @fionagrant, your tweet back in June really kick-started the readership to my blog.
I could go on…
So I will just say thanks so much to the awesome tweachers up and down New Zealand and around the world who helped this Student Teacher become a Beginning Teacher in 140 characters or less.
My job interviews are from mundane. My first teaching job interview was a group interview while the next one was via skype where I fielded questions from some amazing year 7/8 (that’s 11/12 year old) students.
As a brief detour can I proclaim my love of Skype? Aside from being able to interview for schools you aren’t in physical proximity to you, you can also sit on your bed with PJs from the waist down for a interview and no one is the wiser. There is a possibility that something might happen which might require you to get up like the phone rings which is why I wouldn’t advocate PJs for Skype interviews. But yah for technology bringing the world a bit closer and back to the topic at hand, children on interview panels.
As an ex student rep my first thought when I heard I would have some students interviewing me was wow that’s so cool! I sat on my first interview panel as a 16 year old student representative on my school’s Board of Trustees. Since then I’ve helped select high-ranking university officials, NGO employees and diplomatic workers in various roles. In fact I think I’ve spent more time on interview panels than in front of one.
So I understood from the outset what a massive learning opportunity the students were in for. Especially since they were a lot younger than myself when I found myself interviewing candidates many years ago. Through being a student rep I learned how interviews worked from the other side which makes it a lot easier to apply for jobs now. It also made me feel a lot more confident in being able to relate to adults with more power than me.
But I also remember how intimidating it was even as a 22 year old to be asking questions to people far older and more qualified than myself during interview panels. So I spent the interview feeling more nervous for the students than I did for myself! For their part the students asked wonderful questions which I think answered well. It did help that the Associate Teacher at my first placement had students give feedback for my appraisals so this seemed like a natural next step in the learning process for me.
But much like how the group interview interview was an interesting test of how well a teacher can collaborate, having students interview prospective teachers is a way to make applicants who espouse a child-centered philosophy put it into practice at a time when it is inconvenient to them. Even just a student rep’s presence is an interesting litmus test. Usually interview panels are made up of people far more senior than an applicant so you know how to react, with the utmost respect.
But a student on a panel mixes things up a bit, there’s someone junior in age and experience so the rules change which makes the situation a test of character. It’s like when you go out on a first date and the person is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, then you know that they are not a nice person. Because it is easy for people to treat people who have power with respect especially when they are trying to impress them. But treating the regular folk, the admin, caretakers and especially the students with respect is a vital component to keeping a school functioning well.
Even the idea of having kids on the interview panel is likely to reveal a lot would-be teacher. Kids can be brutally honest at times and that scares people. Putting your trust in the kids to do the right thing is part of becoming a teacher, some people never get there but embracing the unknown is what I think makes teaching so exciting. If an applicant doesn’t feel they need to impress a student in real life, then they generally they don’t know how to react in this situation.
For my part as a student rep I would often go into bat for candidates who I felt listened to me and would comment if I thought I was being treated with disdain. And I think that scares some people too, the idea that someone they perceive as more junior gets a say in their career. But ultimately given that the kids are the ones I’ll spending my days with, it makes sense that they ask questions and give feedback to school leaders about my application.
For anyone who faces a student on interview panel I have one piece of advice. Always make sure when you are asked if you have any questions that you have one for the student/s as well as the important people. Even something as simple as ‘what do you think makes your school special?’ can get the kids sharing and they will tell you stuff adults might not. But more importantly you are showing that not only do you value student voice but you are willing to back it up by creating opportunities for that voice to be heard.
My week-long break seems to have flown by.
Did it feel like a break?
I’m still currently on the job market which means I’m busy visiting websites, schools and writing job applications. This job hunting business really does feel like a game of musical chairs. I find myself torn between the scatter gun approach of applying anywhere and everywhere under the ‘you gotta be in to win’ generic approach however I think I do both myself and any future employer a disservice by this sort of thinking.
I figure if someone is taking the time to read my application, then the very least I need to do is find what the school is about and tailor my application to fit the needs of the position. Ideally I will physically drop by to have a nose around and think really hard ’would this be a good home for me?’ before I send in my application. The problem with this approach is that it takes a lot of time to prepare applications and vacancies are being advertised thick and fast at the moment.
As a result I find myself being selective about where I apply. If a school is looking for someone to take responsibility for Sport/EOTC, I figure I’m wasting everyone’s time applying as this isn’t an area where I have expertise. However a mention of ICT/e-learning/languages will get my attention because those are areas I’m passionate about. I’m hoping this tightly focused approach to job hunting will pay off.
My thinking is that by limiting myself to a few well put together applications that really speak to what it is the school is looking for is better than aimlessly firing out applications of poor quality and hoping someone decides to put me on a short list. After all those sorting through the piles of CVs aren’t just randomly pulling applications out, they want the best person on the market for their school. Why shouldn’t I want the same for where I work?
Ok there’s the small matter of being a Beginning Teacher in a market with hundreds if not thousands of grads looking for work, but I’m hoping this gamble will pay off. The good news is that I am getting on short lists which is promising as I know there’s lots of BTs out there are the moment who haven’t gotten that far in the process. However I still need to convert all this job searching activity into an actual offer.
Next week I will be even busier as I’m back at varsity.
Due to the crowded coursework, the Primary student teachers are getting the call back to varsity a week earlier so we can become au fait with the all the different learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum. As I look into October and November I realize I’m just going to have suck it up and grind on through because it will be learning at its worst, jamming bits of information into my head in order to pass exams.
With so much content and so little time, I doubt many of student teachers will have time to really engage with course material. Which is a shame, because I’m really interested in some of the course material and want to learn more. But before I know it the week is up and its time to move to another subject area meaning the momentum is lost.
During the last semester a bunch of us made a joke when finished our exams, that we didn’t need to bother thinking about maths and literacy as we were done with that part of the course. And there in lies the problem with our education system, learning is viewed as a product to be consumed. This means new teachers, the very people we want to be energised and interested in learning, are being switched off.
Perhaps I’m not the only one who needs to prioritize.
Last Friday I had my first teaching job interview. I was very humbled to get to this stage of the process as I know the school had received a huge amount of interest not mention applications from all over the North Island and some from the South as well! But this was a job interview with a difference, it was a group one.
The prospect of having my first job interview with 10 other student teachers vying for 1 or maybe 2 jobs was always going to be a double-edged sword.
On one hand being an online student means that I don’t spend much time physically hanging out with other student teacher so I was looking forward to spending time with student teachers. But there was a rather large elephant in the room, we were in competition with each other for a plum teaching position.
From the outset it was clear that all the applicants had something we were passionate about and had something different to offer the school. There were teachers who were interested in dance, music, sports, fine art and drama. One of the students gave a fantastic mihimihi and a number of us had lived overseas at some point in our lives.
I was dumbstruck by the thoughtful and interesting feedback as well as the creative ideas generated for learning. To say I was intimidated by the talent amassed in that room would be an understatement. If I was a principal, I would want to hire us all! I must confess I spent half the time wondering what on earth I was doing in a room full of awesomeness.
So it was just as well our session didn’t feel at all like a job interview. It was run with clear learning intentions and success criteria, there were individual tasks, group tasks, pair tasks. We were planning lessons, talking pedagogy and learning about leadership. If nothing else comes from the interview, I got a free afternoon of professional development run by some amazing school leaders with some brilliant student teachers. That’s the first time I’ve ever come out of a job interview and immediately wished I could go back for another session.
The only downside was that there was no internet access and most of our work was done with pen and paper. However there were physical reasons for this and by end of the session I had access a laptop which made me realize that yes more than anything I’m an e-learner. I like being able to move text around a screen far more than jotting ideas down on paper. Not having a device made me feel literally disconnected from my style of learning.
I’m sure there will be a lot of experienced teachers out there scratching their heads wondering if this is the future of HR practices. I would say yes. Collaboration is an essential ingredient for 21st century educator but traditional 1 on 1 interviews don’t effectively assess this quality except perhaps at the reference check stage. From an interviewee’s perspective it is easy to talk in an interview by yourself about being collaborative. Walking the talk with people you are competing against? That’s tough. But the thing with principles is that they only mean something if you stick by them when they are inconvenient.
The group interviews undoubtedly gives huge amount of qualitative data about you as a person which just isn’t there in the traditional set up. As a interviewee you need to strike a delicate balance between talking and listening. You want to get your ideas across (I’m a special snowflake! La, la, la! Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!) but at the same time you need to show that you can use ideas that come from other people in the room. In short you are being tested on knowing when is a teachable moment that you need to speak up and when is a learning moment and you need to listen. Do I think I got the mix 100% right? Nope but I’m still learning to make the most of teachable moments. Nevertheless the interview had lots of teachable and more importantly learnable moments.
I wondered whether I should post on this experience because I don’t yet know the outcome of the interview and job hunting is such a secretive process. You don’t want prospective employers to know you are talking to other schools when you are in the process of searching for a job because all your job applications proclaim love for that school and that school alone. To say that not only only are you seeing someone else but they said no seems risky. It puts a big scarlet F on our forehead in a society that doesn’t do well with failure. Someone has said no? Maybe there’s something wrong with you. In reality everyone at some point has experienced failure or had a set back in life and it isn’t the end of the world. Picking yourself up and asking what you can do differently to generate another opportunity is what counts.
In fact through the interview process I know that getting a knock back for this job might not come down to anything specific about me but that the school needs to get the right mix of teachers on staff. The Korean-speaking e-learning nerd might not be quite right in the mix when there are sports teams that need to be coached and productions that need to be staged. I know from the interview process that there are other Beginning Teachers who are far more passionate about sports/music/drama/art than I am. However if creating digital content, engaging online communities and using technology to learn is something schools need, then I’m the best Beginning Teacher in New Zealand to fill that particular niche. A bold claim to make, but I can totally back it up.
So that’s why I’m posting about the interview because this is what I’ve been doing for the last 8 months, blogging about my learning. I don’t know if it makes a difference but this is my teaspoon.
Hopefully the awesome teachers I met last Friday will find ways to utilize our collective talents and I will be doing a happy dance for whoever gets the job/s. That’s another great thing about group interviews, you really don’t have any hard feelings if you get a ‘no.’ Because rather than competing against an unknown entity you know the other applicants and in fact find yourself cheering for them.
I would remiss in my Weekly Reflection if I did not mention the Rugby World Cup. The school where I am currently completing my Teaching Experience is right on the edge of Auckland’s CBD, so the students and I were right in the thick of the action of Friday’s opening ceremony. During the week the students and I could hear helicopters buzzing overhead and every day I walked to and from school I ended up helping some of the thousands of tourists in the city find their way around central Auckland.
The highlight of the week was definitely Friday. The school I completed my first Teaching Experience came for a visit to do a performance as part of the PR gig to attract year 6s from my current placement to enrol for 2012. I knew that my former students were interested in music and cheer leading but I had yet to see them in action. To say the children were phenomenal would be an understatement. Even the MC was brilliant at engaging with the little ones, though I swear he’s grown 6 inches since I’ve last seen him!
The rest of the day was spent having a sports day with our classes breaking up into the different nations of the rugby world cup. It was hot and tiring work but it was great to see the older students really supporting the younger children in the activities and making sure that they made it to the different rotations. Like many central Auckland schools we ended the day early to avoid contributing to the chaos that was the Auckland. Even with the early finish, I still plunged headlong into the madness of hundreds of thousands people making their way into the city for the opening festivities.
But rugby isn’t the only game in town for me right now.
Operation Job Search is also moving into swing into action with applications being lodged and nervous waiting ensuing. Searching for a job very much feels like playing several games of musical chairs at once. Being at the right time at the right place seems just as important as having the right skills. When I started out at the beginning of my course I was very much focused on getting a teaching position, any position, because I’m a Beginning Teacher in a market where I know there are teachers with many years experience getting knock backs.
During the July holidays I did some thinking about where would be a good fit for me and started researching. It’s amazing how much of the conversation about the use of social networking is fear-based, watch what you say online because a prospective employer might be watching you. Did no one stop to consider that job seekers can and should use the internet to aid their job search?
Because as a job seeker I’m finding that social networking is helping my job search both in terms of finding job leads and also researching job applications. The digital footprint left by the leadership of one school has left me with a huge wealth of information about how might compliment and contribute to the culture of the school. In fact I found myself checking books out of the library because the authors were mentioned as influences on the school website. My nerdiness knows no bounds.The bonus of all this reading is that I find myself thinking more and more about what makes good learning and how to create environments for great learning. In short I’m learning to be a teacher while I look for teaching jobs.
Although I don’t want to jinx it, operation Job Search seems to be progressing well. My Teaching Experience is ending a day early due to a school flying me in for a visit. As a lowly Beginning Teacher I felt honoured and a little surprised to be considered worthy enough of a callback. I knew there had been huge amount of applications and being from out of town would have been an easy way for someone to put me in the ‘thanks but no thanks’ pile. Nevertheless I’ve got some work to do to push through to the next round and start generating, dare I say it, job offers.