7th May 2020
My name is Jessica and I am a twenty-two-year-old Religion and English teacher from Ireland. Through Engage, I secured a teaching job in a brilliant school in Kent. As I make the journey from Dublin to Kent I am documenting the process on my Instagram page @secondaryteacheruk.
All I ever wanted to be was a teacher and thanks to Engage I can start that adventure in a new and exciting place. I have a passion for teaching and writing, so teaching English is the perfect job for me. My training in the Bachelor of Religious Education and English at DCU allowed me to learn through practical placements in a variety of school settings.
While there are differences between teaching in Ireland and the UK, our knowledge and skills set us up to embrace that challenge. As I go into the next chapter of my teaching journey I am hopeful for what is to come.
In advance of any interview, it is essential to prepare yourself as much as possible. This can be done by taking a few simple steps.
In order to present yourself at your best, it is important that you express your strengths as a teacher. Remember, you are convincing the interviewer that they want you so it is important to be certain about what you are saying. Engage will have given you an interview guide which asks you to think about questions. These include questions about your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, your interests inside and outside of the classroom and what inspired you to become a teacher. While the answers to these may seem obvious to you, make sure that you think about how you can articulate the answers to show your potential. Writing down answers to these personal questions can help you decide the best way to phrase your response.
It is evident to an interviewer if you have not done your research into the school or the area where the school is situated. By doing a little bit of research you can choose elements of the school community where you could play an active role and mention these in the interview. These will show them that you are dynamic, enthusiastic and a team player. It will also show that you took the time to familiarise yourself with the school. It also shows that you are serious about attaining this job in particular. Some interviewers will ask you about how you see yourself fitting in with the local community. This is an opportunity for you to present your extracurricular strengths. It also shows that you plan on living in the area and staying with the school. Finally, when researching the school, make sure that you read through the school’s most recent Ofsted report. While the Ofsted doesn’t always show the full potential of a school, the report will give you an idea of the areas which excel and the areas where the school needs improvement. Making the areas for improvement a focus for your own teaching style may make you the candidate that they have been looking for. Pay attention to the school ethos and the governing board so you know what type of school it is before the interview starts. While you are researching it is crucial that you take notes. A video interview is a perfect opportunity for you to use your notes as prompts for discussion. This is particularly useful if you get nervous when trying to recall answers on the spot.
Curriculum If you are planning on teaching in the UK from abroad you may be asked how you are prepared to adapt to teaching a different curriculum. Your research into the school will be extremely useful here. Be honest and say that it will be a change for you, but reassure them that you are willing to work hard to prepare yourself for your students. Also, it is important to remember that you are a qualified teacher and most of your experiences and skills are transferable to any classroom. In addition to teaching skills, you have subject knowledge that will overlap with and often be included in the UK curriculum. For example, Shakespeare is taught for the Irish Junior and Leaving Cycle as well as the GCSEs in the UK. You will need to adapt your content knowledge, but you are capable of doing so. Schools will support you as you get to know the new material. Show willing and an interest in learning about the new system.
If you can prepare yourself and your environment for the interview, you will feel more comfortable and confident. Although the interview may be taking place in your home, via video link, it is extremely important that you dress for the interview. Dress formally in a blouse or a shirt. Be comfortable but professional. This shows that you are professional in your approach to the job and indicates that you can dress appropriately for teaching. If you have long hair, make sure that your hair is back from your face. It can be off-putting for an interviewer if the candidate has to keep sweeping hair back from their face throughout. Similarly, the environment in which you are conducting the interview needs to appear to be professional. This can be achieved by doing some easy preparations. Decide where you are going to do the interview well in advance. When the interviewer calls you, be sitting where you intend to do the interview. In advance of the interview, decide what device you are using and position it in a way that your face can clearly be seen. There is nothing more distracting than talking to just a chin through video chat! Positioning the camera on a slightly higher table can give you a comfortable and natural viewpoint for the video. Once you are set up, practice a short call with a friend to see what your interviewer will see through your lens. Clear away anything unprofessional from the background, such as posters and photographs. This will ensure that the focus is on you and what you are saying. Finally, tell everyone else in the house that you are interviewing at that time. Ensure that the environment is quiet and uninterrupted to give you the best chance of staying on track.
Although it seems easier said than done, appearing relaxed and confident can show your competence and professionalism. Before the interview, take some time to relax. Drink a cup of tea or sit outside for a little while. Frantically making notes last minute will make you feel flustered and unprepared. You have researched, planned, prepared yourself and your environment. From the second the video link begins your interviewer will be able to see this. You are starting with your best foot forward. Everything after that is a bonus. Remember that if there is a technical difficulty or a call breaks down don’t panic. They will call you back or email you to rectify it. If an interviewer calls late don’t worry, they will call as soon as they can. Be patient and kind to the interviewer so your personality can shine through. You can do this!
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