Diary of a jobseeker No 2

Friday 9th May 2008
It is the final term of my NQT year and my one-year maternity leave contract is shortly to expire, so I have started to browse my local authority’s website for jobs. I notice a vacancy in a school which I know from football matches with my current school, so I fill in the application pack, being careful to write about my recent experiences in the letter of application. I suddenly notice that the closing date is Monday, so I decide to email the forms.

Monday 12th May 2008
A busy morning teaching my year 4 class prevented me from worrying about my recent application, and as I head toward the staffroom for morning break, I notice a voicemail on my mobile. It said: “We have received your application and would like to invite you to an interview on Wednesday, please get in touch for details.” No hesitation, so I ring them back straight away. They tell me that I will need to teach a literacy or numeracy lesson to a year 5 class and then attend for interview. I remember a good friend of mine who is a literacy co-ordinator at my current school and she suggests I use ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” as the basis of my lesson. I find a suitable picture, ‘Missing in Venice’ which shows an ocean liner crashed into a city. I plan a speaking and listening activity around it.

Wednesday 14th May 2008
I arrive at the school at 9.45am to give myself time before I teach a lesson at 10.00am. But they are running late, so I had a little bit of a wait. I decide to go over the lesson in my head while I wait.

It is my turn so I enter the classroom to find 30 pairs of eyes staring up at me. I introduce myself, set up my resources and begin the lesson. I show the class the picture ‘Missing in Venice’ by Harris Burdick and ask them questions such as, ‘Why is the ocean liner in the middle of Venice?’, ‘How did it get there?’ and then lead on to the main discussion point of ‘What do you think happens next?’ I get a variety of excellent responses, such as “We think the people watching will try and get on the boat to steal some treasure.” It’s really getting their imaginations going.

It seems to be going well. I use success criteria at the beginning of the lesson with three bullet points outlining what I expect the children to achieve by the end of the lesson. During the lesson, I use talk partners which is where I ask the children to talk to each other and share their ideas. Towards the end of the lesson, I show the children the success criteria and ask them to assess whether they think they have met the criteria. Thumbs up means I’ve got it, middle thumb means I’m almost there, thumbs down means I don’t understand. I notice one child with his thumbs down, so I ask him why and he says “I don’t know what an ocean liner is!” Perhaps I should have covered this at the start of the lesson……..

Next is the interview. I try to come across as confident as possible, the questions are all ones I was expecting and I answer them as best I can. They ask me about how my experiences in my NQT year have developed my teaching style and how I would react to an angry parent. I’d actually dealt with an angry parent before so I told them how I would try to arrange a meeting with the parent to discuss their concerns. By the end I felt pleased with it all and they told that they would be in touch.

Thursday 15th May 2008
After a restless night, I arrive at school ready for a day’s teaching. The school ring me to tell me that I didn’t get the job as they went for someone with more experience. Fair enough, I thought, as I only had one year’s teaching experience behind me. But then they told me that another school was holding interviews the next day and they had recommended me to the school. I couldn’t believe my luck! They gave me the school’s details and I rang them straight away. The school wanted to see me the very next day, and with encouragement from colleagues, I confirmed that I would attend for interview.

Friday 16th May 2008
I decide to wear the same outfit and teach the same lesson I taught on Wednesday as I have no time to prepare anything else. I arrive at the school and am immediately taken to teach my lesson as there is no time for wall staring in waiting areas at this school. The lesson is going well as the class seem to enjoy their tasks and the observers do not look too horrified. Again I get some excellent responses to the ‘Missing in Venice ‘picture such as “We think someone is pulling a lever to draw the ocean liner in and it will keep going and destroy more of the city.”

Interview follows swiftly and I feel comfortable and confident. Most of the questions were quite similar to Wednesday’s interview. They ask me about my hobbies and interests so I tell them about my love of reading and discover that I share an appreciation of the author Michael Morpugo with the headteacher. I drive home feeling positive. I like the school, the head and the day seemed to go without a hitch. I arrive home and just as I am walking through the door, my phone rings, “You did really well and …..we would like to offer you the job”. I accepted straight away.

Katie McGovern, primary school year 5 teacher and history coordinator has just completed her first term at a primary school in Haddenham, in Buckinghamshire.

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