The Non Standard Applicant

Upon completing year 4 of the B.Ed., your thoughts are supposed to turn straight to subbing worries, how to fill a standard application form and how youwill ensure that you stand out from my newly qualified colleagues, right? Wrong. Not if you were successful at interview for a full time teaching position at the end of March. The catch, I hear you ask? The first leg of my commute to work begins with a trip across the Irish Sea.

At a time when final exams were looming and assignment deadlines were fast approaching, we were sitting on the steps of our house discussing what the future might hold. A friend had told us about her experience with an agency in England and as she shared the details, it all sounded too good to be true. The agency book your flights, pick you up from the airport, ferry you around to schools with positions available and put you up in a hotel. I felt as though there was nothing to lose so my friend and I got in touch.

One phone call later and a hopping WhatsApp group was formed, flights were booked for the end of March and the wheels were set in motion. It was so straight forward that I spent the next few days wondering what the catch would be. So often, we had been warned about the dangers of teaching in the UK – the parents are impossible, the standards are too high, the paperwork is insurmountable and the behaviour is unimaginable. I decided to get some more balanced advice rather than listen to these sweeping generalisations and soon after we landed in England.

I had no expectations for the trip, which I think worked in my favour. Because of the mountain of college work and other commitments I had, I didn’t have long to prepare for the interviews and I didn’t know the names of the schools so I couldn’t learn anything about them! I just knew I had to prepare a 20-minute numeracy or literacy lesson, so I put most of my effort into that as well as reading about the curriculum. I was told that the interview would be ‘informal’ so I didn’t worry too much about it.

On the morning I arrived, I was picked up and taken straight to school. We visited four different schools with various positions available over the next two days and the only complaint I have was that it was pretty tiring! The interview process involves 3 separate steps making it quite different to the Irish system. At each school I had to teach a lesson, complete a written activity and have a short interview. Each school did this differently which kept me on my toes but because I had no expectations, it was hard to be too nervous.

I was thrilled to hear from the agency that I had been offered a position at a Catholic Primary School which seemed similar in set up to an Irish Primary School. The interesting thing about working with the agency is that they want to ensure that the school suits you and not just the other way around! I accepted the position and since then I have been excited (and nervous) for the next chapter of my life as a newly qualified teacher. One of the best things about all of this, of course, is that upon successfully completing my NQT year in the UK, my qualification will be converted back and I will have completed by induction process with a year of teaching experience in my back pocket.

Moral of the story: don’t panic! There are other ways and means of getting to where we need to be. I hope to share my other experiences and escapades with you soon.

Jayne.

Interview Blues

You may remember from my last post that I had a huge problem finding interview clothes and had finally settled on a cardigan and suit trousers. I was promptly told by several people to go and get a cheaper suit for the interview and invest in a more expensive one later. So I ran into Dunnes the day before the interview and got a navy suit and a white top. While it was stressful trying to find things to wear when time was tight, I have to say that I did feel a lot more confident and in control in my cheap suit than my expensive cardigan and trousers and I was told when I asked for feedback that I was dressed ‘beautifully’.

I received a second call for interview shortly after I wrote my last post. There were five vacancies coming up in the school. There was about a week between interviews and unfortunately I was unsuccessful in both. I asked for feedback from both schools and only one replied. The principal told me that you can’t ask for feedback, you can only ask for the points you got for your answers. However, because they knew me, they told me that for a few of the jobs, teachers were just re-interviewing for jobs that they already had and the rest were given to teachers with a couple of years of experience. As for the other interview, a teacher who had worked in the school for the previous year got the job and put it up on Facebook three days before I got my rejection letter. While this might seem unfair, I didn’t really mind because  I feel that if it were me who had been working in that school for a year, I would have been annoyed to have lost the job to an NQT with less experience.

As regards the interviews themselves, I was nervous but tried to remember to sit forward, make eye contact, smile, wait to be asked to sit down and all the rest of it. There were three people, the principal, the chairperson and an independent person. The questions were pretty much what was on the list on Educationposts.ie. The following questions caught me off-guard: What is your experience of using ICT in the classroom? (I have nothing beyond using Powerpoint) How would you maintain good relations with parents? Would you feel confident in preparing children for Holy Communion and Confirmation?

Since the interviews, I have gotten quite a number of rejection letters, which I am saving to show the dole office in September as proof that I am applying for jobs. Even though these are all negative, it is nice to get a reply, an acknowledgement of your application.

I have accepted that I will be subbing for next year and hopefully will have enough experience to get a contract next year. It’s been a dissapointing start to my teaching career, but I’m glad I got some interview experience and feel that I will be better prepared for the next ones. I am told that subbing is an excellent learning experience and might be a good opportunity to try out new lessons and approaches, so I’m looking forward to that.

Hope you found this helpful and good luck to all the teachers still applying.

Marie.

Catch 22

Well, believe it or not, I got an interview! I received an email a few weeks ago informing me that I had an interview for a resource job. The school is a DEIS Band 1 school. No word of a lie, this school is my dream school. The school culture and atmosphere is great and the resources and class sizes are also very appealing. Out of all the schools I completed my placement in I felt most at home there.

When I received the email I was subbing in a school about 45 minutes away from home. The staff were so helpful and gave me loads of advice, I’ve never been so excited to get an email. Previous to the email the school had rang me twice asking me to sub, I had to say no as I was subbing in a different school so I was even more surprised when I was called to interview. Leading up to the interview I studied every night for hours, I looked up the new curriculum, made 5 pages of notes about the school and local area and learned of the usual piece about gaeilge a chur chun cinn sa rang.

The weekend before I was so pumped, I was ready; I bought a very formal suit, practiced my answers out loud and was 100% ready. Imagine my dismay when I got a call from an inside source to say that the job was gone. The job was going to the person who went subbing in the school after I had said no as I was subbing in a different school. I genuinely felt devastated, many told me that I should have dropped the other school and subbed in the school I wanted but I had committed myself to the far away school. In my opinion it would have been very unprofessional to drop a school.

I continued my study anyway and said I’d still give it my all. Upon entering the interview I was met by the Principal, the chairperson and a representative of the Diocese. The interview could not have gone better. The questions all went very well and at the end of the interview the Principal asked me was this my first interview, I said yes to which he replied ‘that was a fantastic interview’. Well by God I was delighted. I left feeling like I still had a chance.

A few days later I received a call from the Principal, he informed that I had not been successful and that the job went to a girl who had 5 years’ experience in a DEIS school in Leinster and she was moving home. The girl was the person who took the sub work when I said no. So here I am now, feeling very sorry for myself, it was a complete catch 22! The worse part about this experience is that I truly think I won’t get an interview in any other school as the two other school’s I did my TP in are quite small so this was really my main chance for a job this year.

To make this pity party even worse I’m here at the Gaeltacht and loads of people have been called to interview and are getting jobs, I didn’t tell anyone I was called to interview so I don’t feel so ashamed but it does tinge the heart a little bit, my jealous self is peering out. So I’m just going to focus on the Gaeltacht for now and my upcoming oral exam and then worry about my life. Bye for now, promise next time I won’t be so glum.