For many new teachers, reaching the summer term feels like a milestone in itself. This year isn’t quite playing ball though, is it?
We know that many trainees have had their placements disrupted. Fortunately, the Department for Education was quick to state that any absence related to the coronavirus outbreak, including school closures, sickness or self-isolation will not be counted as ad hoc absences. This means that NQTs currently undertaking statutory induction and meeting teachers’ standards will be able to qualify as this year as expected.
In the meantime, life goes on. Here are our tips to getting the best from the rest of the year:
Make the most of technology
Keep in touch with your mentor, course contacts and colleagues. Maintaining digital contact will allow you to monitor your professional progress, tick off personal objectives, and provide a much-needed element of stability. Plus, if you have missed letting off steam in the staffroom, you could probably do with a catch-up or two.
Use digital resources to keep on top of CPD opportunities. Think about what free time you have, and realistically assess what you have the time and energy to achieve. Extend your subject knowledge through podcasts, online research or documentaries and if you learn something new or even look at your subject from a different angle it will be time well spent.
Use downtime effectively
When you’re teaching full time it can feel like there is no time to reflect on what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s a scheme of work, particular lesson plans or departmental processes, taking this opportunity to reflect on what you’ve done, and where you’re going with things could be invaluable.
Find your perfect job
Assessing the teaching job market during a pandemic may not seem easy. Some teachers may have decided to put their job search on hold until things settle down and schools may not choose to fill their vacancies until they know what September is going to look like.
Research and preparation
Preparation is key. Take some time to get your CV up to scratch. Even if you’re asked to complete an application form, thinking this through and having the information at your fingertips will save time in the long run. Take a look at our CV guide here.
Even if you can't visit schools at the moment, you will be able to carry out some pretty detailed research online. It is, of course sensible to start with the most recent Ofsted report and what it has to say about your area of interest.
Googling the school is also a good idea. One of our teachers discovered that a new head caused a stir when he imposed new school uniform standards – and used isolation and detention penalties to enforce them. Whilst the coverage was 'colourful' at times, it allowed the teacher to get a flavour of the school, its values and behaviour management policies. You’ll be able to build on your desk research at interview, but remember that knowledge is power when you’re choosing a new school.
Many of our client schools are used to using Zoom, Skype, or other software to carry out remote interviews, but for some it will take them out of their comfort zone. For candidates, the most important thing is to grasp the opportunity to demonstrate your strengths. You won’t be able to carry out an interview lesson, but you might face questions about your classroom style and how you would handle certain situations. Find out more about how to succeed at long distance interviews here.
Hourglass also offers you the opportunity to create a video to complement your CV - the beauty of Hintro is that you can review and record as many times as you need to make sure you come across as you want to.
Even if you have missed time in the classroom due to school closures, you can make sure an interviewer know how you have responded to the crisis. You should certainly highlight the ways in which you have stayed involved and proactively developed your subject knowledge and understanding of pedagogy.
Avoid a blank mind at the end of an interview. Have a list of questions which you would like to have answered. Most NQTs will want to know how schools are planning to support their young teachers at this time and how their mentor programme is structured.
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