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'.


1 comment:

  1. I shall be reading this regularly, rest assured! Great to see this out there in, um, cyberspace.