27th April 2012 at 01:00
The problem: I'm quite a strict teacher and have high standards in terms of behaviour, but I'm wondering how to present this in interviews. If you have your own class, you can do the "heads down" and "sanctions" stuff, but in an interview situation the kids know you are not coming back, so it is a lot harder to implement the expectations. Also, I recently taught a lesson in someone else's class. The class teacher told me that this particular class took better to male teachers. Is that because their current teacher is male? They really tried to push the boundaries with me

What you said

In any lesson, but especially an interview lesson, make an effort to use names. It is obviously harder when it is a 30-minute interview lesson, but two minutes putting names on stickers at the beginning is an investment you will not regret.


The expert view

You (1)are right, in interview lessons you can't rely on the normal conventions that you have through a relationship and familiarity with pupils. But you do have one advantage over a long-term teacher: surprise. Most pupils, even rowdy ones, will be fairly biddable for a short while.

Of course, because it's an observation lesson, you should have the benefit of one or two experienced teachers in the room. This often helps. Sometimes it doesn't, but you can mention that they are there if you want to remind pupils that you are not alone.

While teaching can't always be singing and jazz hands, for an observation lesson it reflects badly on you if you can't provide interesting, well- planned resources. If they are punchy, well-paced and interesting, you will have a head start with a new class.

You would also benefit from setting up structural cues about what kind of person you are. Be there early, be prepared and greet them firmly as they come in.

Keep speech slower than normal, speak low and a little more loudly than conversational level; have the activity ready for them; insist on a normal seating plan and ask for it before the interview.

Remember not to be a victim to the expectations of this other teacher. Pupils will respond to a woman as well as a man if the teacher sets the behavioural standards and cues appropriately.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher. Post your questions at

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