For all those graduating teachers out there that may feel a little hopeless by the state of the job market for teachers at the moment (I know I was, especially as a Primary teacher – here, here and here), it’s possible! You just need to get yourself out there, learn from your failures and keep on moving forward (Meet the Robinson’s reference..). After many application rejections and a couple of failed interviews, I was blessed during the last week of my internship with the offer of a permanent position starting Term 1, 2015 to live out my childhood dream of being a classroom teacher learning with the kiddies in ES1/S1. I hope this serves as encouragement to all those other PSTs out there on the hunt for work and that this may provide that extra bit of motivation to get yourselves out there to start those job applications.
If only I was one of those students in the classroom that constantly pestered their teacher for their full name and Instagram account each and every day (you know who you are), I would be able to email my Year 6 teacher to let him know the impact he had on my future career decisions and how he played an important role in shaping who/what/where I am today – if anyone knows where Mr. Anthony is today, please let me know.
Here are my eight pieces of ALWAYS for the application and interview process:
- ALWAYS have a positive outlook. The data might say that one third of the teaching workforce is not in full time employment and that there is a massive oversupply of Primary school teachers, don’t let that put down your hopes of pursuing a career that you love. Just keep applying for positions and going for the interviews – apply, apply and apply. I applied for around 10 positions and had been through three interviews before securing this. My view is that the probability of scoring an interview will slowly get closer to 1 the more applications you send through (I might be incorrect here because each application is mutually exclusive). Same goes for interviews. Treat each failed interview and application as a learning experience – it’s all part of the learning curve and just enjoy the ride. I started early too – as soon as I got a matched position in an area I wanted to work in, I applied!
- ALWAYS put a photo of yourself on your resume. They always say that it’s good to put a face to the name. From my point of view, this is a big positive for employers so they can ‘put a face to the name’ when they read through your resume and consider you as a potential member of their team before they even meet you. I’ve always done it and it’s a good reason to try take that perfect #selfie.
- ALWAYS address the three aspects of the school environment – Students, Staff and Community. You need to mention this for each selection criteria in your resume and in your response to each question during the interview. If the selection criteria is “Approval to teach K-6”, mention how you have shown this in your time on internship and prac. Give examples of how you’ve demonstrated your teaching and how it has impacted students, other teachers and the wider school community.
- ALWAYS give specific examples from your teaching practice. Give examples from your internship, from prac, from your other life experiences. Make them as detailed and as personal as you can get to show how much you know your stuff and love teaching. If you forget to say something, go back and mention that you missed something in the question above and just keep on going. The panel doesn’t stop you from doing this and it shows you’re not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them (I hope…). Always think about what impact and difference your teaching had on each aspect of the school environment and expand on that.
- ALWAYS project yourself into the role as a teacher at the school. I ended everything with “In my role as a classroom teacher at [INSERT SCHOOL NAME], I would… share my skills in innovative classroom practice… collaborate with staff… show appreciation for the P&C” and so on. This shows the panel you’re confident and can see yourself in the role at the school.
- ALWAYS give a copy of your resume and selection criteria response to your referees. The selection panel will call your referees and almost give them a mini interview about your teaching practice and ask quite specific questions relating to the selection criteria and your experiences. There shouldn’t be anything to hide – aint’ nobody got time fo’ that.
- ALWAYS call back for feedback. Similar to the DEC interview, they want to get teachers into jobs and in front of the kiddies. They seriously give the most useful feedback and in the nicest of ways. It’s definitely a teacher thing. Not once did they make me feel inferior or that I was a massive failure (my first interview was pretty fail). They have a way with their words, probably from many years of positive reinforcement and dealing with the little kiddies we once were.
- And last but not least, ALWAYS just have a conversation. They’re looking for someone who they will have to work with 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week. They’re looking for someone who they can have a nice chat with by the hot water tank in the staff room kitchen or whilst walking by during playground recess duty. Try not to script or recite your interview answers despite the formalities of the current process.
Thanks to my amazing supervising teachers (click here for their blog) for being great mentors throughout my prac and internship as well as all the teachers and principals who gave me feedback to take on and learn from after my unsuccessful applications/interviews!
I hope you can take on some of this advice and just experience the process for yourselves. Churn out them applications and don’t give up! Once you start one or two applications, it’s smooth sailing from there.
This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!
That was one of my favourite songs (Fort Minor – Remember The Name) from high school and when I think about it, it isn’t very accurate. It’s probably more like:
This is ten percent getting your foot in early, twenty percent rejections,
Fifteen percent persistence
Five percent perseverance, fifty percent learning from your mistakes
And a hundred percent reason to never give up! 🙂