Too challenging by far

14th January 2005 at 00:00
QI can't take much more in my school - it's too challenging. What's the best way to go about finding vacancies locally?

AThis is a very basic question that troubles every would-be teacher. For specific local authorities, use their websites or printed job bulletins.

Both are updated, often weekly during term-time. Then there are local newspapers, although they are no longer as important as they once were.

Nationally, The TES and its website is still the key point for most job adverts. Word of mouth on local networks can also be useful, especially about who may be moving on. Local training events may both allow you to hear of jobs before they are advertised and get yourself known locally.

CAN MY HEALTH TAKE IT?

QI have suffered for about 10 years from bulimia and I'm diabetic. My doctor has referred me to a psychologist who tells me that if I accept his support it will be a hindrance when applying for jobs. I'm passionate about teaching, although I admit that the pressure of the course has hit me badly: I have been dieting and exercising, and bingeing too. I've lost two stone. I keep my disorder well hidden from pupils. I'm an excellent actress.

AYour question worries me. At face value, you want reassurance that your various health issues won't stop you finding a teaching job; they might and probably will, but I don't think that is the real issue. You say you are "passionate about teaching" but that 'the pressures of the course have left me in a poor state'. How poor compared with your colleagues? So poor, that you have to act to hide how you feel. I don't really believe you can lose two stone without your pupils having noticed. Pupils are far more perceptive than we are prepared to accept, and I am sure they are aware of what has happened to you. If you want to teach, would it be better to try to deal with your health issues first and then take on what is, as you have found, a demanding and draining role. Otherwise you face a round of possible rejections are demoralisation and schools reading about your health issues avoid taking the risk of employing you. Longer term you might need to think about how you can work as a teacher, but not in a classroom.

Tutoring pupils who themselves have health problems might be one possible avenue.

HOW DO I SELL MYSELF?

QWe have been told to get a supporting statement and letter of application together. But I don't feel like I've done much teaching yet. What exactly am I supposed to write about to sell myself to a future employer?

AStart early, and refine often. The advantages of word processing is that it is easy to update letters of application, even if you have to then write them out in longhand for schools that want to check your handwriting skills. At this stage, you can comment on what you have learnt in your first term and rely on what you said when you applied for your training course; after all, it was good enough to get you a place on your course.

Schools are aware that you won't have done much teaching, but you have been around schools and pupils, possibly for a number of years. Communicate your passion and sell yourself. Then rely upon the demonstration lesson and your referees to provide the detail. During the term you can add and refine what you have written as you confront new teaching experiences and your insights into the nature and practice of teaching both broaden and deepen.

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