Having completed your PGCE, it’s time to finally put into practice all you have learnt, to present yourself as a newly qualified teacher (NQT) and get your first job. Getting to this point has been a process and journey; an often challenging journey of hard work, self-sacrifice, and at times, stress and hardship. But, you have come through that now; it’s time for the next stage, where you must sell yourself.
Applying for a newly qualified teaching post is generally a process involving an interview by a panel and an interview lesson, both of which can be daunting unless you plan and prepare well.
Whether it is teaching at primary or secondary level, the interview lesson and your first term as a teacher will seem like your biggest challenge yet, as if reaching this point was the easy bit!
But that’s not the case at all – you’ve done all the hard work; it’s time to fulfil your ambition, and show that you are a teacher, a team player, someone engaging who brings benefit. To showcase your skills and potential just remember what you have been taught – planning and preparation are two of a teacher’s best tools – use them.
To help your interview lesson go smoothly, we’ve put together a short list of answers to frequently asked questions on interview lessons. It includes important things you should look out for, but more importantly, things your assessors will be looking out for.
The Interview Lesson
Following the panel interview, the next step is the ‘sample/ test’ lesson. Before the interview lesson, you will be provided with a lesson brief – details of the class age group, and what the panel specifically wish you to do during the lesson. For primary level students, this could typically be reading and writing exercises, where the teacher engages with younger students using their creative and personable skills to maximum effect. For secondary level students, this may be maths, English or a theoretical science lesson – displaying the motivational and management skills often needed when teaching older students.
Study the Brief Well
The brief should be clear in its instruction and be studied well. If anything is unclear or you wish additional information to prepare your interview lesson, then do seek clarification in advance. But don’t be too hasty in firing off emails, or ‘quick calls’ as the day approaches, and the nerves jangle.
Don’t ask questions that a little time, research, and creative thought might answer. That said, there are certain questions you might ask that indicate efficiency, organisation and forward thinking such as;
Do I need a lesson plan, if so when should I submit my plan?
Are there any students with special educational needs?
Will there be a teaching assistant on hand during the lesson?
Do I need to bring any resources to the lesson?
What are the important things to focus on?
Assessors have a number of boxes to be ticked. They want to see if you engage with the students, interest and motivate them and see if you are a good model for teaching and learning. A teacher must be effective, confident and knowledgeable about the given subject. A teacher must be organised and demonstrate good organisation and behavioural management skills. This may include initiatives such as:
Providing name badges or getting younger students to write their names on a sticky note for their clothing, or folded name sheet on their desks – so you can engage quickly and begin to build relationships from the word go.
Encourage debate with older students where possible.
Be prepared for the worst, for when nothing seems to go the way you plan – think worst case scenarios, when equipment doesn’t want to work, disruptions occur and how you might kick-start interest with a bored audience.
Interviews are stressful events for most people, very few people actually enjoy the interview process. Many find interviews a terrifying prospect and don’t always handle the pressure well. But, put them in front of a classroom full of kids…and they’re a different person altogether, someone at ease, in his or her element. Teaching panels are looking for teachers who consistently deliver good lessons and inspire learning in young adults.