I always feel uncomfortable when people start talking about leadership. Especially if it happens to be in the context of events that have the tag ‘Emerging Leader’ ‘Young Leader’ or ‘Future Leader.’ Leaders have interesting things to say, leaders have responsibilities, leaders don’t forget to take the class roll after lunch.
I think opinionated geek is the most accurate description.
When I heard that #ignition2012 was happening during the April school holidays I couldn’t wait to book my flights vven though the dreaded ‘leader’ tag was attached to the event. The reason? Two days of un-conference .
Ever since I went to my first unconference back in July 2011 I’ve been hooked on the format. As a learner there’s nothing more engaging than being able to choose what to learn, when and from who. As an attendee I much prefer being an active participant at a conference than sitting as an audience member patiently waiting for the Q&A session to contribute to the conversation. Yes the person up the front might have something important to say but unconferences embrace the idea that the sum of the expertise of the people in the audience is greater than the sum of expertise of the people on stage.
Which is what made #ignition2012 so exciting.
All those hierarchies that our model of industrial system of schooling built up over the last century or so vanished. At #ignition2012 it if you were veteran teacher of scholarship level physics at a large-inner city high school or someone in their first year of teaching five year olds their ABCs at a rural country school. Everyone was there with a common purpose to make New Zealand schools awesomeness incubators.
I love teachers from such a diverse range of contexts quite readily give up two days of their holidays to spend time at #ignition2012 learning and growing together. Nobody was required to be there and yet we were there. Some teachers traveled great distances to participate and the result was a giant melting pot of professional learning. There were sessions on e-portfolios building apps for learning and looking at applying augmented reality into the classroom. We discussed the Ultra Fast Broadband inquiry and talked about the conditions that lead to success for Maori students. In short it this was teacher professional development on steroids.
#Ignition2012 undoubtedly highlighted that the greatest strength of the New Zealand schooling system, institutional autonomy, is also its Achilles Heel. New Zealand schools and the educators within them don’t talk to each other nearly as much as we should. I think this is particularly the case for Beginning Teachers who can easily become isolated in our classrooms/schools with very little contact with those beyond our own bubbles. #Ignition2012 gave teachers an opportunity to connect with other teachers we would normally not be in contact with and the result was a bazaar of ideas to improve teaching and learning in New Zealand.
Moreover for those teachers on twitter and other social media, it allowed us to reconnect and put faces with profile pictures. It provided that real-life human component that is not there in online conversations. Coming together in real life is to quote the amazing @annekenn MAGIC.
What was really inspiring for me is knowing that there are other teachers out there in our schooling system who are dissatisfied with our schools and think we can do better. When I read about the latest policy developments in New Zealand education like the introduction of Charter Schools and Teach First New Zealand I often get despondent that the only new ideas for schooling are coming from the business sector. Ultimately discussions over how we train teachers or school governance is going to make very little difference to the shape of education. It’s the teachers who are in there with our students each day who need to ‘be the change’ in our schools.
#Ignition2012 shows that there are passionate New Zealand teachers out there who have no interest in perserving status quo in New Zealand schools. We know we can do better and in the case of Maori and Pasifika students in particular we know that system must do better. There are more teachers out who want to make New Zealand schools awesomeness incubators.
I hope next year you can come join us next year armed with your teaspoon.
“I honestly believe that the future is going to be millions of little things saving us. I imagine a big seesaw, and at one end of this seesaw is on the ground with a basket half-full of big rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air. It’s got a basket one-quarter full of sand. And some of us got teaspoons, and we’re trying to fill up sand. A lot of people are laughing at us, and they say, “Ah, people like you have been trying to do that for thousands of years, and it’s leaking out as fast as you’re putting it in.” But we’re saying, “We’re getting more people with teaspoons all the time.” And we think, “One of these years, you’ll see that whole seesaw go zooop in the other direction.” And people will say, “Gee, how did it happen so suddenly?” Us and all our little teaspoons…” Pete Seeger.
My profound thanks goes to the organizers of #ignition2012 in particular to @mosbourne and the crew at Albany Senior High School. A big shout out also goes to Russell Stanners, Tony Bacon and Abbie Reynolds from @vodafoneNZ for supporting my attendance.
My WINS for the term would be getting 28 individual student blogs up and running (wow was that an epic adventure), bedding down some classroom practices, having an awesome assembly, teaching my students how to use chopsticks, holding a cake decorating class as a reward for getting through the term and starting up a budget news show with my kids.
My first attempt in learning would definitely be paperwork and record keeping.
A lot of people outside of teaching, myself included, don’t see the job within the job when it comes to teaching. Sure there are those hours between 9 and 3 when you are responsible for a classroom of students and are expected to teach them something but there is also a whole myriad of duties which go along with teaching, the paperwork, the meetings, the emails, communication families, etc. which I have really struggled with this term. It took me a week to remember to consistently read the daily notices (a job which I have long since farmed out to the kids to do) and about a month to remember to take the roll after lunch without a phone call from the office. Perhaps next year these things won’t seem so mentally draining now that I’ve worked out a way to collect money and notices and keep a track of them.
And that was definitely my biggest surprise of the term. How much paperwork each student generates which then need to be filed away and recorded by me somewhere. Don’t get me started on the number of information systems in education which don’t talk to eachother or spending an evening entering data into e-asstle. Suffice to say the task I enjoyed the least this term would be setting up paper-based learning portfolios. There has to be a better way of recording student learning than this.
I suppose my points of frustration are inevitable to those who know me or my writing. I tend to be more of a big-picture thinker. The stuff that gets me excited is coming up with new ideas and solving problems while I have a very low tolerance for anything resembling busywork and loathe filling out forms with the fire of a thousand suns. Perhaps the reason I’ve enjoyed doing the digital stuff is because it has involved a whole lot of creative problem-solving both for myself and my students.
Yet as I look towards the 2nd and 3rd terms slightly less frantic but still wanting to do much more passion-based learning and teaching. When I think about the most meaningful moments I’ve had with students this term, they’ve come when I’ve shared my interests and hobbies with my students and vice versa.
Watching the students chow down on ramyen using chopsticks was so surreal because they reminded me of my students in Korea who loved slurping down on noodles after school. But perhaps the biggest suprise was the cupcake decorating class I held at the end of the term. I never saw any men at the cake decorating classes I’ve attended as a student and had assumed that the boys in our classroom might not have much interest icing cupcakes. Yet the boys bought just as much creativity and engagement to the task as the girls. So there’s another reminder to never assume that your experience will match that of your students.
I was also reminded of the importance of passion. From the outside it looks like passion is almost becoming a dirty word in education. Instead we talk about outcomes and student achievement and have stock footage photos in newspapers kids sitting in rows staring at the teacher. In my experience passion is loud and messy (especially when icing cupcakes), it requires lots of movement and it is really, really tiring.
So yah to having a holiday. As one of my flatmates remarked, she never really understood why teachers have two-week breaks until now.
At our school the students run the weekly assembly. Having sat through the first few, to be honest I had come to dread the hour I spent in the school hall each week and I knew I wasn’t the only one. The kids weren’t all that enthused about our weekly school gatherings which reminded me a lot of the assemblies I used to endure at school. Sit down, be quiet and listen to the important people up the front saying important things. The kids were in general compliant of the demands but were they engaged?
Not so much.
Although the hall had a big data projector and a decent sound system, they weren’t being used to full effect. I knew assemblies could be fun. Talking with my tutor teacher, who was also new to school, we decided that the assembly our syndicate was responsible for would be different. It would be a celebration of all the awesome stuff happening in our syndicate with lots of music, colour, movement and have some interaction with the audience. And then my tutor teacher said ‘off you go’ and I had the responsibility for turning that vision into a reality.
So our class brainstormed what we liked and didn’t like about assembly, took some inspiration from youtube and other schools, and then got to work on producing a whole bunch of content. We had a movie to demonstrate kindness, a news show, a photo slideshow set to music and even a commercial for a business a group of kids in my class decided to start up. Our presenters were decked out in our pink syndicate colours, another class in our syndicate made a large banner, the other class in our syndicate also had a movie to show and most importantly we had questions for the audience to answer. In short we took a crazy idea to take a traditional assembly and turn it into a What Now show and made it a reality and it was fantastic to see the energy level in the hall rise from silent compliance to kids smiling and participating in the event.
It’s 2012 and you’ve decided you’ve decided that this is the year you are going to start writing a blog or even take an old blog out of hibernation. At this stage I’m writing based on my experience as a student teacher developing a social media presence but really I imagine a lot of this advice will be easily transferable to classroom blogs or teachers looking to develop a social media presence.
1. Decide on your purpose
Before you even start blogging think about why it is you want to start a blog. You might have several reasons for blogging both for yourself and for your students but ideally you should be able to articulate in 140 characters what your blog is about. The content on your blog largely needs to stick to the purpose and theme of your blog.
2. Decide on a platform
There’s lots of blogging platforms out there so have a look around and decide what you think might meet your needs. I’ve made no secret that I am an avid wordpress user however for my class blog I ended up back at blogger as my school uses google apps. Seeing as the kids already have google accounts it didn’t make much sense for me to use wordpress as a platform for the classroom blog even though I loathe blogger with the fire of a thousand suns.
3. A good blog design
Above anything else the content on your blog should be easily readable for incoming visitors. Colours and fonts are important but you also need to think about what visuals you use, how you organize your content and how users can share your content. Background images can add to your blogs visual appeal but can also be distracting. Likewise a well-designed header will draw readers into your content while a poorly designed one will have readers wondering where your content is. Widgets can add personality to your blog but too many can be distracting for the reader.
3. Share your content
Finding a readership for your blog is just as important as writing good content. Start by posting blog updates to your facebook profile or tweeting new posts. In fact sign up to Twitterfeed which can publish blog updates to your facebook and twitter accounts the minute you hit publish (you can even configure the updates to include hashtags after your post title). Most blogging services these days have buttons for users to tweet, facebook, email and distribute your writing far and wide. You should also have links to your twitter profile and RSS feed for people to start following your work.
4. Managing content
Writing content is just one part of the blogging equation managing it is just as important. Think about your post titles are they something that someone would type into a search engine? You also need to think about when and how frequently you publish posts. Decide your posting schedule and stick to it. The whole point of blogs is that they need to be regularly updated in order to engage readership. A lot of newbie bloggers think that you need to post content the minute you’ve finished the post and pound out several post in quick succession and then nothing for months. Unless you are posting on something time-sensitive then you can keep content up your sleeve for when you are busy in real life (in fact I’m currently writing this post on boxing day because I’m bored of watching cricket).
5. Keep writing
I’m not going to lie after the inital euphoria of ‘ZOMG I have a blog!’ passes you get into the dull drudgery of actually writing content on a semi regular basis. For the first few months it can be disheartening when you feel like you are writing awesome stuff but nobody seems to be reading or commenting or your work. The green-eyed monster can also rear its head when see other more established blogs getting lots of comments and plenty of retweets while you are quietly toiling away and nobody is noticing. But blogging is a bit like keeping fit, you’ve got to do a little bit of exercise each day over a long time rather than spending 3 hours at the gym sporadically to see results. At this table demonstrates that it took almost six months to build up an engaged audience for this blog.
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One of the best pieces advice I received when my stepdaughter came into my life is that in parenting the days are long but the years are short.
I hadn’t thought about those words of wisdom until I collapsed into a heap on Friday and wondered not only where the week has gone but how fast the term seems to be slipping away. How can it already be Week 5 and why do I feel like my class and I haven’t achieved much?
Surely my disappointment wasn’t for lack of effort. I get into school before 7.30 and wasn’t leaving until after 6. I’m often to be found there on Saturday. It was little wonder that exhausted just didn’t even begin to describe my lack of energy.
Yet despite spending a ridiculous amount of time working, I know I haven’t been working all that smart. Every time I sat down to complete a task, I would immediately start thinking about all the other things on my to do list which were screaming like a newborn for my undivided attention. My classroom still looks rather barren in comparison to all the colourful wall displays found in other classrooms, there are units of work that I know we are behind in, parent emails to respond to and wow did that middle session on Wednesday not go in the way I had anticipated it.
Welcome to the mid-first term wall.
It’s the time of year when for Beginning Teachers, or at least this one, that the minute something is not going right then it seems like everything is not going right and it feels like you are the worst teacher ever grace a classroom. Undoubtedly outside events will be colouring my perspective as the end of February has become a time when I find myself lamenting what might of been. But I’m sure I’m not the only Beginning Teacher feeling a lot like the Little Dutch Boy with his finger in the dyke right now and realizing there are many more leaks that need plugging than I can ever hope to stem. Undoubtedly that mindset of the wall undoubtedly creates more anxiety and setbacks.
Even though I knew I had a mountain of work I know I need to get done, this weekend I didn’t go to school. I switched off my devices on Saturday and instead spent time doing some mundane things. I went to the gym, did laundry, spent an entire day meeting up with friends and caught up on my missing hours sleep and wow do I feel the better for it as with distance comes perspective.
I realized that I might have accomplished more in my first few weeks than I gave myself credit for. My start of year assessment has all been marked and I’ve sorted my students into maths and writing groups. We’ve filmed some videos on school norms and the kids know what to do at the start and end of the day. I managed to see all of my writing groups while the rest of the class was working independently and spent time with each individual student in the class conferencing about their writing (by far one of my favourite things to do). Our class blog has had almost 1,700 page views and some of the students are starting to use Quality Commenting Checklist that we developed via our blog. I respond to parent emails usually within 24 hours of receiving them and I’ve made an observation of another teacher’s teaching.
The step back allowed me to identify some tasks to get done during my Classroom Release Time this week as well as prioritize my to do list into manageable chunks so I don’t get so overwhelmed by that wall. It also made realize that perhaps I’m not doing as bad as I think I am. Could I be doing better? Absolutely. If I was in the same space next year, feeling like I was blindly feeling my way around the classroom, then I would be disappointed in myself for not heeding the lessons of the last few weeks.
Because when I look back, I realized I’ve learned so much and I really love my job. But ouch that wall of exhaustion is huge and overwhelming especially when each brick represents another task on my to do list.
New Zealand Registered Teacher Criteria 6.1
Registered teachers articulate clearly the aims of their teaching, give sound professional reasons for adopting these aims, and implement them in their practice.
I’ve often said that first thing anyone needs to do when setting up a blog is think about why they are blogging. In fact I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most blogs fail because the author has no idea why they have a blog other than to have a blog.
So I’m taking my own advice and outline the purpose of setting up a class blog and came up with 5 reasons. Strangely enough my reasons aren’t because my school asks every class to have a blog.
- Authentic writing opportunity for students. Above anything else blogging gives kids an opportunity to have an authentic audience far beyond the walls of our classroom through regular posting. Commenting and responding to comments also serves as a way for students collabrate and learn from each other.
- Home school partnership. Blogs have the potential to change the ‘what did you do at school today?’ conversation to parents being able to talk about specific activities through blogging. They also have the potential to make information from the school more personalized and therefore relevant to each parent.
- Enhance digital citizenship. Blogging is an authentic oppourtunity for teachers to model effective digital citizenship so that students can manage themselves online as well effectively participate and contribute to digital communities.
- Global collaboration. Blogging gives students a chance develop their own personal learning networks whether it be like-minded kids, a scientist to help with a topic we are studying.
- Sharing teaching practice. As a new teacher I find reading classroom blogs a great way to learn about what goes on in other teacher’s classrooms and will
shamelessly stealborrow teaching ideas in order to adapt them for my context. If someone happens to gain something out of what is happening in what’s happening in my classroom this makes me happy.
Why are you blogging with your class?
At the moment I’m doing some nannying work for 3 boys. Boy B had a writing assignment for homework which he left to the last minute and was struggling to come up with something to turn in. His topic was to write a news report on Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall. Boy B had some good ideas emerging but was frustrated and bored during the editing process.
I worked with Boy B on some writing strategies such as getting into character and reading the work out loud. I also reminded him to check he had answered who, what, where, why, when and how. He then added in some adjectives and managed to construct a title which used both an alliteration and a pun. Pretty cool work for a year 6 student but more importantly I could hear Boy B’s voice shining through in his story.
When I asked him to reflect on his work he seemed more concerned about what his teacher might be angry about how his book looked than that he had plugged away editing his work until he came up with a great story. I also noticed that although Boy B was using google to check his spelling, he was handwriting story. I asked him why he didn’t just type his assignment and apparently he had towrite his piece by hand.
Is this what turns kids off from writing?
Being forced to used outdated tools and worrying that their work doesn’t fit in between the lines at the expense of finding their voice.Writing is supposed to be a messy process!
Students need to go back and rehash sentences, move ideas around, expand and contract sentences, choose different words and recheck their spelling. This is so much easier for children to do on a word processor than on paper. Yet I’m guessing most kids are like Boy B. Still being told that they need to hand write their stories and then if they are lucky, they might get to publish their work on a computer if it is deemed worthy enough. This is entirely the wrong way around.
Everybody repeat after me three times: a word processor is not a typewriter.
I would rather let Boy B have a messy page, or better yet, use a computer to get his ideas out than have him worried about what his teacher might thing of his scribbling out. In fact I would rather have kids typing their stories then handwriting finished products if we must insist on spending hours drilling students on handwriting.
Of course the problem is that most schools don’t have enough devices to ensure each kid has a keyboard and the easiest way to allocate the resource for some teachers might be to let the earlier finishers get time on the computer. I would argue that the reverse is true. It’s the kids who struggle with the mechanics of handwriting who need to be put in front of a computer to get their ideas into written form.
Ah the purists say but students need to be able to hand write otherwise how will they learn how to write?
To which I wonder what is the real purpose of our writing? Writing perfectly formed letters or the ability to communicate ideas through words. Because the only time I have been required to hand write a document of any length in the last ten years has been for exams and teacher’s college applications.
And there in lies the problem.
Our education system still uses 19th century tools to assess 21st century students. We pass these outdated methods of working onto our new teachers to inflict more misery onto young writers who have a voice but who might not yet have developed the fine motorskills to handwrite but could quite happily pound away on a keyboard except we won’t let them.
To quote REM withdrawal in disgust is not the same thing as apathy.
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.
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.