There’s nothing wrong with readying yourself for that job hunt before completing your training; in fact, it could make or break your chances…
As one trainee teacher told the CREC Early Years Partnership site, schools seek to employ “enthusiastic, knowledgeable and keen teacher trainees” – but what specific steps should you take?
Make sure your online image is clean
Keep in mind that, once your application form and CV reach a recruiter’s desk, looking at these probably won’t be that recruiter’s only means of vetting your suitability for the job.
They might also Google your name to learn more about you. Therefore, before sending off any applications, Google yourself to make sure that your name isn’t associated with dubious content online, as online safety adviser Ellen Ferguson advises in a piece for The Guardian.
If you leave such content online and easily accessible through the likes of Google, it could cancel out goodwill that you foster from gushing references, a slickly-handled interview or effective teaching technique. On the other hand, online details of successful teaching on your part can actually help.
You could tinker with an unflattering digital footprint through various means. For example, you could lock down certain privacy settings or ask friends not to tag you in particular types of photos.
Try to secure a job with one of your placement schools
If you are on placement with various schools, you are positioning yourself well to show those schools your teaching methods and work ethic. Therefore, don’t mess up these valuable opportunities to impress when you are in the shop window, so to say.
Those placements would also let you show your ability to integrate with the school’s existing workforce and start developing relationships with children at the school before you permanently get the job.
Research what an interview could involve
If a school invites you to an interview, read the invitation very carefully, says the UK Department for Education’s Get Into Teaching site. This is crucial for enabling you to discern precisely what to expect. Interviews can vary in length and how they will assess you.
Your particular interview could last just an hour or right through the day; you won’t know for definite until you read the invitation. Until doing this, you could be in the dark about exactly what the interview will involve…
It might review personal documentation, like examination certificates. You might also be asked to participate in a group discussion about current educational matters or deliver a short presentation the topic of which has been provided to you before the interview.
As it might not be until a relatively late stage that you learn proper details of what the interview will entail, it would be worth preparing yourself for every eventuality. You don’t want to run the risk of being left stumped due to having been asked to do something you weren’t expecting.
You should also research the school itself. Remember that, even if the interview is only for a placement, that placement could eventually lead you to take up employment at the school.
Prepare to both look and behave well at school
Strictly speaking, your time to start making a positive impression wouldn’t be just when an interview commences. In fact, school staff could be garnering impressions of you much earlier than that.
When you do arrive at a school, whether for an interview or placement, assume that your “interview” – and, thus, chance to shine – starts right from the beginning of your time at the educational institution. Even your shoes should shine; check that they are good, clean and matching.
You should also routinely show politeness to everyone you meet at the school. At some point, every person who meets you could later be asked what they think of you. It would certainly be a good idea for you to take the initiative in chatting with school staff well before the formal interview.
Naturally, however, make sure that you are polite to all of these people with whom you come into contact. Those people should include dinner ladies and, especially vitally, students.
Consider what you can bring to teaching
When interviewed, expect to be asked for compelling reasons why you are suitable for teaching. You should, for example, be able to provide an assured, committed reason for seeking teaching work and how you can benefit both the specific course and school for which you are applying.
It might not be sufficient for you to simply recite what you have already thought about these subjects when you were putting together your written application.
Nonetheless, however adept you currently deem yourself at teaching, you should never claim that you are the finished article. Instead, be willing to accept the idea that you are a work in progress. Employers will be attracted to a candidate who shows a willingness to develop their ability.
Indeed, in showing employers what your training has added to your knowledge base, you would not only give them an insight into what you currently know but also provide evidence of your ability to learn from experience. This ability could hold you in good stead in the actual job.
All the same, keep in mind that the recruiter won’t just want to assess how you can fare in the classroom. There is, after all, much more to school life than the teaching; think of trips and extracurricular groups, for example. Show that you can contribute to such aspects of school life.
Think about how your experience from before teaching could help
If you have a long record of employment from before you decided to switch to teaching, don’t be too quick to assume that none of that experience would be particularly relevant to teaching work for which you are now aiming. You might have picked up many valuable transferable skills.
Before attending an interview, you ought to consider how you could show the interviewer your ability to apply those transferable skills.
Similarly helpful could be passions which you have pursued long before catching the teaching bug. For example, if those passions include sport, it could be very worthwhile for you to bring this up when you are aiming to get a post as a PE teacher.
As we have already quoted one trainee teacher explaining, employers want enthusiastic people to fill their teaching posts. For this reason, having a longstanding in the subject you want to teach should not be considered a small detail – and especially not by you when your dream job is waiting.
Never relent in your search for jobs
Don’t underestimate the significant competition with which you are likely to have to contend in your search for teaching work. It’s crucial that you make a good impression at schools where you are interviewed or work on placement; advice in this article can definitely help you meet that aim.
Furthermore, due to the likely high number of competing candidates, you should be diligent in looking for work – whether you are considering education jobs in Liverpool, London or any other UK area.