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Dos and Don’ts of Applying for Teaching Positions

I have found myself in that dreadful time of year where it’s time to put yourself out there and apply for teaching positions. I have been teaching for nine years now, receiving permanency twice in two different Catholic systems. Two years ago, I risked giving up one of those permanent positions to move with my new husband to Darwin as he was posted there in the Defence Force. Just months before returning home to NSW, I received that phone call from the principal asking me what my intentions were for 2021. At the time, we were months away from returning and I had no other option but to forfeit my permanent position. I was lucky enough to be asked by that principal a little while later to return home early into a maternity leave position. I moved back home a month ahead of my husband and was able to breathe easy, until now. Arriving home just before a lockdown, starting our first mortgage and dreams of starting a family soon, there was a lot of pressure to get a permanent position for 2022.

DO have confidence in yourself. Believe that you are a good teacher.

DON’T feel disheartened by unsuccessful applications. It’s normal in a competitive profession to be unsuccessful.

DO apply for positions in schools you want or like. It’s important to know what you want and what would be good for your career. But be careful not to place all your eggs in the one basket.

DON’T apply for anything and everything. If you are successful at a school you’ve applied to but are not invested in, then you could come to resent it or your career could plateau because it’s not what you want.

DO your research about the school. Use school websites and conversations with colleagues to gauge a profile of the school and how they do things. It’s important to know what the particular school’s mission, values and beliefs are.

DON’T go into an interview without knowing a little but about the school. You will come across more professional and favourable if you can tailor your responses and make them specific to the school context.

DO feel comfortable in clarifying questions. If you are not sure of what the panel is asking you, ask them to rephrase or repeat the question.If you have some idea, then ask them specifically if that’s what was meant by the question.

DON’T be afraid to clarify if you’re unsure or narrow broad questions with context. If you’ve been teaching for a few years now you know what you’re talking about and you know the answers to all the questions but may find it difficult if the question is vague, too wordy or too broad.

DO prepare some generic responses or points to mention. It’s a good idea to identify key components of your teaching practice and the system programs or initiatives to include in your responses.

DON’T forget to include examples. Using specific examples from the last few years of your teaching practice adds depth and authenticity to your responses.

Here is a list of the top 10 topics that may come up in interviews:

1. Why are you applying for the position? What led you to this school?

2. Beliefs, Values, Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Usually in an interview for a Catholic or Christian school, you will be asked about your faith and involvement in your local parish. You may need a Priest reference.

  • Choose weaknesses that could also be strengths. For example; passion is my weakness because I find it difficult to separate work and life, finding that balance (I care too much!), but this is also a strength because my passion is what makes me a great teacher. Another example is; organised. I am very organised which is a strength as a teacher, but it can also be my weakness because I need to always have a plan and have things in their place which doesn’t always work that way when working with children or with other people.

3. Student Wellbeing

  • How you create safe, supportive learning environments

4. Behaviour Management

  • In the classroom

  • On the playground

5. Assessment and using data to inform your teaching

6. Literacy practices

  • How do you teach reading?

  • How do you teach writing?

  • What does a literacy lesson/block look like in your classroom?

7. Numeracy practices

  • What is your approach to teaching maths? For example; hands-on, open-ended approach or problem solving approach.

  • What does a maths lesson/block look like in your classroom?

8. Incorporating ICT in the classroom

9. Relationships with the Community

  • Parish involvement if in a Catholic or Christian school

  • School involvement and extracurricular activities

  • Involving parents in learning and school

10. Working Collaboratively

  • How do you work collaboratively with others?

  • Think about experiences in different school settings for example; I’ve had experience in open-plan classrooms co-teaching with several grade or stage partners, as well as teaching in closed, individual classrooms, planning with several grade partners.

  • Think about school teams or networking groups you may be apart of

  • Think about how collaboration is made easier with technology

Good luck with your applications. I would love to hear about your experiences and any tips you may have to add. This time of year is tough for all teachers, but especially those without job security so please reach out and don’t go it alone! Get in touch via my Instagram account.

You can succeed in teaching interviews.
You can do it!

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