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Job seeking: a time for reflection, a time for questions

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by DrEmmaKell, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. DrEmmaKell

    DrEmmaKell New commenter

    It's summer and we should be on holiday, and you are forgiven (and indeed hailed!) for switching off from all things education. In fact, I would strongly recommend that all of us try to do this for a chunk of time. But for some of us, the summer is a valuable time to mull things over and reflect on our values, our vocation, our passions and our wellbeing.

    When I was invited to 'advise' on these forums, a part of me was wary - in my career, one of my most valuable pieces of training has been in coaching, and I know that often guiding people to career success and fulfilment isn't about handing them pearls of wisdom, but about asking questions.

    In an increasingly diversified school system, the need to articulate our values and what we are seeking for and prepared to accept in a role are increasingly important, I believe.

    Questions like:

    What do I stand for?
    What is my educational philosophy?
    What is my long-term vision for this role/class/department/school?
    Are there any systems which I would not be prepared to work in? (If so, why? Is this based on prejudice or concrete experience or deeply-held values?)
    Would I contemplate a change in direction? (Primary to secondary? Mainstream to SEN? Teaching to academia? Or vice versa, of course...)
    Or indeed, do I really want/need to change jobs just at the moment?

    Then there are the practical questions:
    What is the minimum salary I need to earn to fulfil my commitments?
    Would I be prepared to relocate?
    Do I need or prefer a part-time role?
    Is a sideways move a good idea?

    It would be useful, I think:
    To discuss what further questions you ask yourself when seeking a new role.
    If you're willing, to share and discuss some of your answers to these questions and the ones above.

    I look forward to your thoughts.
  2. crosslee

    crosslee New commenter

    This doc is slowly dating but its free.
  3. gapok

    gapok New commenter

    For me, it's whether or not the leadership of the school has the same values that you have!
    I went from a loving, caring school as a second in department (where I felt I had a second family) to an exams factory as head of department. I was very micro managed in my new role, which was good as a new subject lead... I got the results and although wasn't entirely happy, I put this down to the role and finding my feet. I then was diagnosed with cancer! I took 5 weeks off... During this time I had a new line manager, who scrutinised everything! She sent marking home which I stupidly did! On my return, I was asked if I needed occupational health support! Not one member of SLT asked if I was ok, nor if I had the all clear.
    I decided to leave and took the first job which came up! A sideways move to a school which sold itself very well on interview... Worst mistake of my life!
    I was at an academy which required improvement! Micro management to the point of needing to ask if I could breath (or so it felt). The pupils were subjected to a new initiative every week and staff under so much pressure to get the results (at any cost) that I felt I was put into a position that I needed to push all the exam guidelines as far as possible!
    Two weeks before Christmas, I was told I was unlike to pass my 'probationary period' due to poor work output! When I questioned the assistant head who line managed me, I was told that I needed to be in school at 6.30am and be seen to be in school until the deputy head left (which was often at 10pm)... This was all 'unofficial' advice and was there, apparently, to support me!
    Staff and students were not valued as people!
    After 2 1/2 terms, I left - a sideways move with a massive pay drop! I've been in this position for just over a year. I am working no harder than I did before - but am working smarter as I have the autonomy to support the pupils appropriately and am not preparing for pointless meetings to show that pupils are making visible progress every two weeks (yes - previously I had to evidence that individuals had made significant progress in 7 lessons!)... The ethos of the school I am at now is about valuing people! Yes, results are important; but the Head has categorically told me he will not play an OFSTED game. I suggested (after our OFSTED the week before Christmas) that perhaps some middle leader training on what to expect would help create a more joined up front to inspectors and was told this sort of CPD would not benefit the pupils!
    I feel valued now - but this is because the leadership are pupil centric - essentially they share my educational values! What more do you need? Yes, there are challenges... But ultimately, I am supported through them, rather than having an JCQ gross misconduct allegation thrown at me (again, something that happened at the academy two days before I left)...
    agathamorse, bob79 and pepper5 like this.
  4. gapok

    gapok New commenter

    What can you bring to the role?
    On interview, what isn't shown to you?
    Is your line manager someone I would get on with?
    Has the interview team read my application? (I've sat on a panel with a head who didn't read application letters)...
    Question that is needed to be asked on interview: what is staff turn over? Why has the job become available? (A staff turnover of 60% is NOT normal and cannot be explained away by SLT)...
  5. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    I once applied and was interviewed for a post leading inclusion. When I arrived at the school and was shown around, it became obvious fairly quickly that this was a post in which the incumbent would be required to pretty much act as the police in a punitive regime.

    I stayed on for the formal interview, just to confirm my opinion. I rejected the job and was asked whether I would/could change my mind.

    It's really important that your ethos fits that of the school. If not, you're going to be miserable. Interviewing the school is important. A poor fit is a nightmare.
  6. DrEmmaKell

    DrEmmaKell New commenter

    Agreed - would be interesting to hear from others about what you look for when establishing that somewhere is the 'right' fit for you. Some ideas below:

    Student behaviour in corridors
    The staffroom - is there one? Is that important to you? If so, what's on display there? What conversations are people having?
    Open-door policy for lessons - how important is this to you (or not)?
    Are SLT out and about or stuck in offices? (Sometimes entirely unavoidable, of course!)
    Do people greet one another in corridors?

    What else...?
    traceyo742, cys2017 and pepper5 like this.
  7. DrEmmaKell

    DrEmmaKell New commenter

    One thing I would ALWAYS do if at all possible is arrange a pre-interview visit - ideally when the children are around. But bear in mind, when you do, that you are also already 'on interview', effectively!
  8. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Yes, that's absolutely true and can cut both ways. It's a good idea to get to an interview early enough so you have time to observe the interactions and comings and goings while you are waiting in the Office or wherever. Everything you see and hear can give you positive or negative pointers.
    I think the way you are treated at interview counts for a lot - are you introduced to people and given time to talk to any key individuals? Are staff friendly and welcoming? Has enough time been allocated to the process or are you just rushed from one thing to the next?
    How do the pupils interact with each other, with staff and with you?
    The atmosphere at a school is so important, too. It's intangible, but often you get a gut feeling and you can either see yourself being happy there or know that it's not the right place for you.
  9. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    I have called up the regional union rep to ask about school x. The rep generally knows if the school's management are odd.
    agathamorse and Landofla like this.
  10. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    That would be unsustainable over any period of time and any skilled manager would know this.

    The result would be high levels of sick leave from exhausted staff, large staff turnover rates and increased behaviour issues as kids are always being provided with "fresh meat" to wind up.

    Good news for supply agencies though, does the academy in question have business interests in one? :rolleyes:
    traceyo742 and agathamorse like this.
  11. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    Not always practical unless you are unemployed or a PGCE student. Contracted teachers might have problems getting the leave for this and supply teachers will lose a day's pay.

    If you want to get a true picture of a school (warts and all) ask any visiting supply teachers if they have worked there and what they thought of it. Another ploy I have been told is to You Tube the name of the school in question. Videos uploaded by the students can be very revealing.
    agathamorse likes this.
  12. DrEmmaKell

    DrEmmaKell New commenter

    Another thing that can be very telling is how supply staff are treated - these teachers will often have been in and out of schools in the area and will have a 'warts and all' view of schools.
    agathamorse, Landofla and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  13. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    Please could someone more qualified than I am tell her what she should have done about the 'support' suggesting a 14 hour day?
    BetterNow and agathamorse like this.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Exactly what s/he did...move to another school where the values and philosophy match their own.

    These days I'm really keen to see the effect the head has. Do staff cower away? Even if just one or two do, I'm not staying there. Do they smile and welcome him into their classroom? Do the pupils quieten down a little in the presence of the head/SLT? If not, they won't be much help t you when you need their support with behaviour.
    agathamorse, aa54321 and les25paul like this.
  15. Jo_young

    Jo_young New commenter

    Actually i am not satisfied with my current job. It's not because it is not good or some of my students dislike me. Frankly speaking, the salary is not that bad, and I have got used to it. Now i can do the job well. But, the location is the problem. Many of my classmates or friends won't come back to this small county, which makes me feel bad. i can hardly find a person who has the same age with me and the same education background to communicate with. On the other hand, i also don't want to limit myself to this small county all my life; it's horrible. i am trying to achieve a better job in a better city.
  16. drnickaus

    drnickaus New commenter

    Well said, your right reflection is a big key to discover more about yourself as a teacher or any professional really. You will learn more about yourself and evolve to a new level.
    They can be simple. After classes I often fill out a journal to say, what worked and what didn't work... for next time I can make improvements.
    [This comment/section/image has been removed for breaching our Community Guidelines/Terms and conditions]
  17. cys2017

    cys2017 Occasional commenter

    How the staff look at you when they call you to the interview room and their facial expressions during the interview are important for me. Also student behaviour.. I have been to an interview where the behaviour was poor even though there was a member of senior leadership in the room
    agathamorse likes this.

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