Applying for roles in education

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“Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job.”

I have recently been a member of a Selection Panel for classroom teacher roles within my school – and what a valuable experience it has been!

Of all the valuable Professional Development that exists, there is often none more powerful than that which comes from being involved in the broader functioning of a school. This post serves to highlight the three key areas of the application process that I thought were fundamental to the selection of quality candidates.

1. Brevity is Best.

When writing your application and resume, follow the old-time K.I.S.S rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid). With many applications to read, often in a limited time frame, it is often difficult to read in depth some that run to dozens of pages. In your CV, highlight the key relevant areas of experience that you have – including those from outside Education. Make it easy for the Selection Panel to determine if you are qualified for the position that is available.

During an interview, try to stick to an answer structure that enables you to present yourself in the best light without sounding like a wind-bag. I personally use the STAR model – Situation, Task, Action, Result – but there are others (such as SOARA etc.). Having said this, you will be nervous and your panel understands this, so if you get off-track, feel free to pause, regroup, refer to notes and continue on.

2. Evidence is KING!

I know that you can Google the Principles of Learning and Teaching or the Powerful Learning Strategies – I also know what they are. What I want to know is how you have used such frameworks to influence your practice in the classroom. Don’t write a page on how you feel that these frameworks are the best thing since sliced bread – give me real examples of how you have used these tools to improve your learning and teaching.

Many people assume that because they are a recent graduate, or because they have been away from the classroom for a while, that they have nothing to ‘prove’ their capacity. This is not true. Graduates should refer to their practicum placements for (even small) examples of things that they have done that show evidence of the criteria being discussed. Teaching is a passionate career that is populated by individuals who know how the system works. The real people on your selection panel want to hear examples of how you might act in a classroom full of their students. Even if it’s been 5 years since you taught, a fellow educator is going to be able to hear your passion or ability through the way you describe situations that you have found yourself in.

Don’t be afraid to use negative experiences – situations that may have gone bad for you. Although this sounds counter-intuitive, an ability to reflect on practice and develop strategies for improvement are fundamental in a classroom environment. I have never seen the magical classroom where everything always goes to plan!

3.  Do some research.

Know the situation and context of the school(s) that you are applying for and tailor both your resume and your Key Selection Criteria responses to reflect this. If a candidate is able to identify and articulate how their strengths/skills/qualifications meet the needs of the school, human nature dictates that the panel will identify with this and remember that individual. Selection panels are looking for people to fulfill a particular need within their context – if you are able to attach your face to the mental imagery that they have of the position, you will most likely get the opportunity.

The three areas detailed here were the main ones that resonated with me as I completed the Selection process. There were, however, four other little bits of advice that came to mind as well:

  • Be seen. Be known. If you can’t land a job – get into Casual Relief Teaching at the schools in an area that you would like to work in. Contact the schools and offer yourself as a CRT – or ask which agency they use and join it. Education is a very fluid profession with much movement throughout the year. You never know, that 6-week stint you do covering for someone away on Long Service Leave might just be the on-the-job training that you need to get noticed!
  • Stay up to date with changes in your area of teaching. If you mention that you are proficient in CSF and CSF II – the panel members may look at you funny!
  • When writing your Key Selection Criteria responses – don’t plagarise! I put my KSC responses on this website two years ago and have been flattered (and disappointed) to read them in others applications. Use them as a guide to writing your own but please be original!
  • Present yourself well. No gum, or casual clothes – you are a professional, so dress like one. Enough said.

I hope you have found something here that is of use to you. Please, feel free to share these ideas with your colleagues and also add your own thoughts in the comment section below.

Good luck!

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