Thursday, 24 May 2012

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes..

No news is good news when you ring your Mother, means no one has passed away or is ill, no news is good news from a school excursion, again no one has managed to swallow an iPod or injure themselves climbing a wheelie bin. No news is not good news when it comes to interviews. I did a second stage interview that went well on Tuesday last week, the interviewer said we would hear through the jobs portal in 1 or 2 days, no news till yesterday when the generic 'jog' on email came. I have done a fair few interviews and its been a long time since I got worked up before or after the event. I understand that there are many reasons you might not be right for that particular job, there might be a better candidate with more experience, an internal candidate who is already doing a fine job or you might just have made a dogs b@llux of the whole thing. Very few things annoy me in this life but when someone tells you they will let you know the result of an interview by call or email then they should do it. I have been to many interviews where they have said we won't call unless you are successful and I am ok with that, if they can't be bothered at least be honest. There are now two schools where I won't apply again for a job as they said they would ring and never did. Petty you might say and you could be right but my view is if they don't have the manners to do what they say they will what is the point of working for them? None in my opinon.

I went to another interview yesterday and again I thought it went very well. The interviewer said he would ring to inform all ten candidates that night and true to his word about 7 O Clock I got the phone call. In this case he said that they had narrowed the list down to four, that I was one of the four, they would deliberate over night and decide which two candidates they would pick in the morning. Its always good to know your on the right track and this was good news. Sadly it was not to be but its far nicer to hear over the phone than wait a week for the generic 'jog' on email and fair play to the man he gave good feedback. He said the interview was very good and it was a hard decision (the tiny pessimist in me says this is standard but anyways) but they had decided to go with two other candidates. He said I had to 'waffle' more and give more examples, yesterday the interview was over in twenty minutes and though I had answered all the questions well with good examples there should be more, it was too short. I hate interviews and don't see the point of talking for the sake of talking but I will take this on board and go again. I used to be the world's worst at interviews until after another average interview last year the depute head (a gentleman I knew) rang me back and gave me an hours feedback, it was mostly down to him that I got the job I am in now. Onwards and upwards, I think after I finish teaching I will start writing experiences and outcomes for the SQA so good is my ability to talk and write rhetoric! 

The great news in this case was that one of the two people was a friend and a lady I work for. It was her first interview and she was very nervous. We had practiced all week and she also got help from other members of the department and El Presidente (Our leader and a fellow Hibbee - 2 crosses to bare poor man but a legend none the less). People have said to me in the past 'Why would you help your direct competition?' and my response is after the interview they will still be your friend and if they are your friend you want the best for them as well. We practice together and both get better, now I will find a job and she no longer has that worry. As the Mammy says 'What is for you won't pass you by!' and she is dead right. At the end of the day though I love teaching, your friends and your family are more important. the secret for a happy life in my opinion is to be able to sleep like a rock every night, if you do your best and do your best by your friends this is easy done. On to more horrible applications but one will never .. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step...

And on the 8th day he decided the life of a newly qualified teacher would not be easy, it would be filled with generic emails of rejection and the constant trawl of in my case the TES job website and MyJobScotland. My name is Michael and I am in my first full year of teaching mathematics in my adopted home of Edinburgh. I am in search of the holy grail of all newly qualified teachers the 'permanent' job. My journey so far has taken me to the beautiful and picturesque town of Ullapool just south of the North Pole and back to Edinburgh. 

Its not easy to get a job as its not easy get an interview, I am currently preparing for the second stage of an interview for a local school where over 70 applicants had applied for a job. I wonder how a generic application can prove to the world you are a good teacher. I have known a fair few people who are masters of bull sh1t and can talk the talk like no others but putting them in a room with anything less than a wonderfully behaved top set S1 would be akin to feeding them to the lions! Explaining in less than 4000 characters how you are the best member of a team since Leonidas of Sparta does not mean you can help a young mind understand the concept of Algebra or explain why when you divide decimals you get a bigger answer. but there is not much point complaining, this is the chosen medium and one all NQT's have to get used to. Getting good at talking in rhetoric and jargon will not only help you with job applications but could also mean a door opening at the SQA writing outcomes and experiences, the ultimate for any jargon junky! 

My main problem is that I don't like talking myself up, it goes against the grain (possibly an Irish trait) but its something I will have to get over. I prefer to let my work do the talking; I have great working relationships with my students, they really enjoy the classes and the work, I try to make it as fun as possible and their results in a summative sense have been great. I know this and my students know this but having to go into a room and tell people how 'great' you are through the medium of six generic questions is as about as enjoyable as pulling out your own toe nails. I feel like a proper muppet doing this but it is a bridge I must cross or its the life of a journeyman substitute teacher for me. 

Having done a fair few interviews over the last two years I have to say I am a fan of the method used by private schools. Applicants take part in two interviews, one subject based and one on whole school issues and then they teach a lesson. I think though some might find it drawn out it is the fairest way for anyone to show that they are a 'good' teacher. You get a fair chance to showcase your skills and even if the lesson goes pear shaped you can still show your classroom management skills. One of the most important lessons I ever learned came from such an experience. I had to teach an introduction to Trigonometry and wanted to explore the relationships between two sides of a triangle and the Tan ratio. NEVER PRESUME ANYTHING! I foolishly presumed an S3 private school class would be able to use a protractor! NEVER PRESUME ANYTHING!! A great lesson to learn let me tell you.

This has been fun but I am procrastinating, I should be researching National 4 lifeskills mathematics in preparation for my second interview on Tuesday. Fingers and toes crossed. I will let you know how I get on. Feel free to leave a comment if you wish.

We must and we shall overcome through hours of practice, self reflecting (second guessing yourself is not a wise, I nearly convinced myself once I did not get a job because I used my 'chuckie' yahoo email address) and the writing and rewriting of notes and applications. One must keep the good side out, as my mammy constantly says 'what is for you won't pass you by'.