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Get your act together

Sara Bubb has some helpful hints for the dreaded interview lesson

Having to teach when you go for an interview is ghastly. It's a ridiculous expectation of someone who has yet to complete a teacher training course and isn't qualified. But it's increasingly common, so be prepared.

Here's what Miranda did: "I had to do a 20-minute lesson on colour theory.

I prepared a laminated colour wheel with Velcro pieces and had a quick interactive colour theory quiz. Then the kids had to get into groups of four and produce colour wheels by cutting up paint charts. I set it as a challenge: each team had to make their chart in 10 minutes.

"For extension work, I got some pupils to consider tones and hues within the wheel. I had each team's equipment in trays, so clearing up was a case of chucking everything in them.

"It was a great lesson - the pupils loved it, the observers loved it. But the job went to someone who'd done supply at the school."

Well, that school must have been mad, but Miranda had given it her best shot.

Here are 10 interview tips:

* Consider what the interviewers are looking for. Read the person specification and try to give them what they want. Think about how you can show that you're professional, have a rapport with children and manage them well, are enthusiastic, plan well, use effective teaching strategies, and reflect on learning and teaching.

* Appearance is important. You've got to feel good and look the part in both the interview and in the classroom. Wear smart but comfortable clothes. Shoes can be a problem if you're on your feet all day. Go for a professional look but feel free to jazz it up with interesting jewellery or your favourite tie.

* Plan thoroughly. Keep it simple but interesting and do it well. Give the interviewers a Word-processed copy of your plan - check for spelling errors.

* Have a plainly phrased learning objective and some motivating activities to allow children to meet it. Think of activities that they are unlikely to have been done before.

* Bring your own resources(or borrow some) rather than assuming that the classroom will have them, including spare pencils and paper.

* Find out the name of one child who is able and one with special needs (any more than two and you'll forget). Think of questions that will be appropriate for each.

* Make sure your behaviour management is good. Think about how you'll cope without knowing the children's names. Make lots of eye contact, smile, and use lots of praise to reinforce the behaviour you want. Act confident even if you're terrified. Find complimentary things to say to the pupils and adults - a little flattery goes a long way.

* Finish the lesson in the time allocated so that observers can see how you bring the learning together at the end.

* Afterwards, reflect on the lesson honestly and intelligently, showing that you can assess children's answers, and think of ways to improve your teaching. No one expects you to be perfect, but your interviewers want to see that you're enthusiastic and can approach and reflect on unfamiliar situations.

* Be modest if it goes superbly - "They're lovely children, aren't they? They've been very well taughtI"

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