Tuesday, 21 February 2017

So you want to be a teacher?

Something inside you has persuaded you that becoming a teacher is your career choice; it could be that you have been a cub, brownie, guide or scout leader, working with young people. Gymnastics, swimming, dance, various sports all encourage young people to undertake coaching courses with the idea of sharing skills with young children. Leading or taking part in holiday schemes have led to the career choice. My favourite was a prospective candidate talking animatedly about helping children with disability to overcome fear and attempt to climb.

It doesn’t have to be one of these routes. Many people enter teaching later in life, having had an initial career and seek greater job satisfaction; some will have had families. Often they have had a transitional route via a teaching assistant role or as a helping parent in school. This, in itself, sometimes leads to a school persuading them to pursue the route to becoming a teacher.
Whatever the route, the process will have similar elements, which are worth considering, so that the application has the greatest chance of making an impression on the member of university, TSA or SCITT staff who has the responsibility of inviting candidates for interview.

This puts special emphasis on the personal statement in support of the application. While the candidate might be writing the application through UCAS to a number of training places, there are some simple “rules of thumb” that might get that all important interview. At that point, you will have the chance to talk more about yourself and your personal statement will be a guide to the interviewer to develop their questions.

  • Write a rough draft of any personal statement, then work on it to ensure it is as clear as possible. Have someone proof read it to offer additional ideas and identify grammatical and spelling errors.
  • This personal statement is about you and you, as a person, should come through. Remember, the person reading it only has the words to go on. You need to shine through. Communication is a key teacher skill and the written word should how your ability in that area.
  • Before your interview, you will need to show that you have had some experience in a school setting – this will vary between training programmes so check the requirements. This could be spread over time, or could be a couple of weeks. What did you learn from this experience? 
  • Why did you choose your particular A levels, BTEC or first degree? How do these subjects, or maybe the teachers, impact on your decision to become a teacher?
  • Why have you chosen a particular subject specialism for teacher training? Why does it particularly interest you?
  • Consider the specific event that made you think about becoming a teacher. How do you see yourself in a teacher role?
  • What do you do that will show yourself in a broader light? Do you have specific interests or hobbies? Do you visit galleries or museums, or perhaps your interests are in conservation, walking, camping, playing music or travelling? Do you do volunteer activity for charity? Everything is important to create a rounded a picture of you.
  • Have you had responsibility in school, college or work experience? Describe and unpick how this might relate to a teaching role.
  • Beyond becoming a teacher, how will this role enhance your view of yourself in the future?
  • Reread everything that you have written and share it with a teacher, lecturer or, if you’re working in a school, the head teacher. 

How you think, how you talk and how you reflect should come through your application. It is a first step. The interview awaits.

Chris

Over a 40-year career in education, Chris Chivers has worked as a teacher, head teacher, university tutor, assessor and adviser. Chris now uses his experience to support developing teachers. A regular blogger at Chris Chivers (Thinks), you can find also him on Twitter @ChrisChivers2
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