Well done, you finally make it to the end of your college course, conquering teachings practices, acing assignments, submitting a decent thesis, and manging to successfully complete and send the necessary forms to obtain your Teaching Council registration number. Now what?
Now those people who annoyed you with the constant “How’s college going?” questions have an even bigger, more daunting question, “Have you sorted a job for September yet?”. If you have secured a job, congratulations, tell them all about it and lavish in their praise, soaking up all the well wishes. I on the other hand, want to answer “No, nosey neighbour I haven’t. If I had you would have heard me shouting it from the rafters”.
Unfortunately, the road to securing a teaching position can be long and somewhat challenging. The first problem we face is waiting for jobs in your area to be advertised. You’ve signed up for alerts from educationposts.ie but still constantly check to ensure you haven’t missed anything. You’ve also adhered to the warnings to be checking staffroom.ie too. There are two approaches to take when it comes to selecting what adverts you respond to. The first I akin to the notion that a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut, in that you compile a very standard application and apply for every job, everywhere in hope that something will go in your favour. The second is that you hold out and apply to a select amount of schools within commutable distance where you feel you would be happy working and have a skill set and experience that would suit the school. I chose the latter, I am currently unemployed but do believe that this will go my way, we must keep the faith 😊
The second issue can cause an unimaginable amount of fear when it really shouldn’t. The Standard Application Form. Even the simple parts where you fill in personal details and college qualifications can make you question your spelling ability and regret that time you chose the night out over studying. The most intimidating parts however are the three boxes where you strive to sell yourself to your dream school, 150 words at a time. You fear not saying enough and seeming unworthy of the post. You fear saying too much and coming across as conceited. My opinion on this is just be honest, let them know who you are, what you do, and what you believe in. If they like it – great, you’ll be invited to interview. If not, then you may not be the right fit for that school right now and that’s okay too.
As NQTs we face our next mountain when we are finally brave enough to send an application and the school believes we may be suitable to their setting. The Interview. The interview fear will start as soon as you hang up the phone, or finish reading the email inviting you to interview. Your initial delight of securing an interview is likely to be swiftly squashed by worries of what to wear? what time do you need to leave your house to ensure you get there early enough to show good time management but not too early either? and what will I do if I can’t think of an answer to the questions asked? We are very fortunate to have numerous resources available featuring sample interview questions. It is worth familiarising yourself with the common questions but learning off answers may not be advised and may not show you off in your best light – in my unemployed opinion. Considering what you will say for the ‘Tell us about yourself’ can be beneficial to get you over the initial nerves however. Do what preparation feels right for you, be yourself at interview and hopefully you will end up in the school that’s right for you.
Next issue: The Wait. When you’ve made it through an interview you’ll generally leave not knowing how it went, or fearing it could have been a lot better, especially if this is your first interview. Please remember that as NQTs we are not supposed to be amazing at every aspect of teaching just yet, we need to earn our stripes. Give yourself some credit for getting this far. You survived your first interview, nobody died, you are winning! The selection process and criteria will differ from school to school, and the time period before you will hear anything back varies greatly. Regardless how long, the wait is horrendous. Some people are still waiting to hear back from schools they interviewed for in 2012. Personally, I know I don’t want to work in a school that can’t find the time to send a standard two lined ‘thanks, but no thanks’ email to interviewees, so this may be a blessing in disguise.
The job hunt continues and September is fast approaching. Jobs are still being advertised, you may have more interviews lined up, and deep down you are secretly hoping that the teachers in your area decide that now would be a good time to expand their families. Know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting your career subbing in schools, making a good impression and finding out where you potentially could be a good fit. You never know what the year will bring so stay positive, your time will come! And until it does you can enjoy the benefits such as the Sunday of Electric Picnic, cheap midweek spa days that aren’t available during midterms, and the occasional lazy Monday or thirsty Thursday. 😉
This is a guest blogpost by a NQT – currently searching for a position.