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Spot the difference.

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by 576, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. 576

    576 Established commenter

    probably 'letter size' which is the US version of A4 It's also the norm where I am [​IMG]
    I hate it. a little bit wider - a little bit taller and it won't fit into my plastic pockets [​IMG]
  2. Well my application is an electronic process, so unfortunately I cannot buy paper that will really stand out.
    It is probably a fine line between 'tailored' and 'going to far. "I noticed (using Google Street View), that there are some lovely cars in the car park of the school, this is something I would enjoy being a part of", is probably the latter. I never know what it is that schools are looking for, I can only try my best and hopefully show that I would make a good addition to their school. I am going for the 'this is why you should hire me' approach rather than the 'I would love the chance to move to...'. Although I am definitely suffering from writer's block at the moment.
  3. I've just sorted through 100+ emailed C.Vs and letters of applications in 2 days.
    We tend to grade them into a 1-4 scale. 1's will have appeared to have tailored it to the school but, most relevantly, fit the profile of the candidate we want.
    Will they fit into the school, the team, department Will they complement the team. Etc

    A few basic tips:
    Get the name correct
    Absolutely no dear sir or madams/to whom it may concerns
    No generic waffle
    Name drop the school
    Quoting school mission is an easy way to demonstrate research but can appear a bit false
    No spelling or grammatical errors (pedants, I'm posting on a forum, not applying for jobs )

    Flags we look for;
    Erratic employment history

    I hope this helps and wish you luck.
  4. ***, my list has lost any formatting.
  5. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    The mean-spiritedness of that remark is your own affair, oldgit - and at least your nickname reveals a certain degree of self-knowledge.
    More importantly for the general public, you are plain wrong.
    There's been some ignorant, patronising... well, I'd better not use circumlocution or euphemism or SMT-speak so we'll just say there've been some thin streaks of putrid cat-poo pasted all over here recently about the predilections of us poor-sod school leaders.
    It was alleged that middle aged males, that collective of crimes against humanity, would rather employ submissive females than thrusting young men in their thirties. We're then accused of reading CVs too closely and pedantically - and in the same thread someone confidently says that we skim through superficially and toss a coin.
    We are also supposed to harbour every possible kind of prejudice, from out-and-out racism to squeamishness about hair colour.
    I thought the nadir had been reached when the head in China - you know, the one in an impossible position, bless her - had the wearing of batik skirts added to the long list of charges against her.
    But the old git goes one better, or smellier.
    So... the present writer likes Opera, Bristol City, Guinness, the TES forum, big novels and small brunettes. Therefore - just mention any one of these at the interview, painting an enthusiastic-obsequious smile on your face the while, and he will brandish a contract immediately, stupid egoist that he is.
    To respond seriously to the superbly stubbly stumagoo, our OP:
    You are doing the right thing, and good schools will notice. Don't parrot the mission statement or attempt to discover the head's taste in light reading, but find better ways of showing that you have researched the school on its web site and elsewhere. Write something intelligent about the country where you aspire to live and why you would flourish there. These things always catch the eye.
    Even the dumbest and most villainous recruiter has a job to hold down, knows that s/he will be judged by the quality of staff appointed, and therefore cannot afford to behave as oldgit suggests.
  6. lovely.lady

    lovely.lady Occasional commenter

    Define 'erratic' for me, please?
    In your humble opinion is it:
    • job 1 - 2 years
    • job 2 - 2.5 years (return to UK for child's medical reasons)
    • job 3 - 1 year 2 terms
    • job 4 - 2 years (school closed politically unstable)
    • job 5 - 1 year (maternity cover)
    • job 6 & 7 - same company different schools
    • job 8 - 2 years but looking now due to no professional development opportunities
    Able to explain and justify moves and also commented on the usefulness of exposure to different teaching & leadership styles and this exposure can be exploited for the good of the school in question. I have also brought a need for professional stability into the application.

    So does this count as erratic?
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    And Penguins, if I remember correctly.
    Best wishes
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
  8. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    The trouble with the Dude is that he's an idealist or, worse still, a perfectionist (which is what the altos mutter about me when I insist on their singing the right notes). He wants feisty individualists who can do the business, hit the ground hurdling and bite into the succulent flesh of Ruritania as if 'twere a big juicy persimmon.
    Speaking personally, which is what I usually do, I'd never be one of those invertebrate school leaders who only
    No, the moment I realise that the candidate is not only an absolute whizz on oxbow lakes or simultaneous equations but is also just the kind of fellow with whom I'd love to share a pint or a knitting pattern, it's Zut! and the interview is over.
    And don't get me started on all those voluptuous, shining-eyed young Indian maidens with PhDs and tight cholis who used to flutter their eyelashes and coo 'Of course I am attracted by the prospect of working in your prestigious establishment but I am particularly excited by the thought of serving under YOU, Mr Mainwaring.'
  9. I tried this very line at my last interview but it didn't seem to go down well. The guy just looked confused.

    I reckon it's because his name wasn't actually Mainwaring.
  10. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    More likely because you're not a voluptuous Indian maiden. It's the tight cholis that make them breathless.
  11. Thank you for a wide ranging set of thoughts on the matter. Unfortunately I am not a young maiden of any kind, just a man with some stubble that, when it reaches 5mm (any day now), will have a beard, of sorts. (This is according to some research on the question 'when does stubble become a beard')
    The whole experience of applying for overseas jobs is a step into the unknown, for many reasons, but one that freaks me out the most is not knowing in any way who it is that I am up against. If a job in my subject came up tomorrow for a local school I would know exactly who the opposing candidates were, and what to expect in way of 'competition', but for jobs half way round the world I am obviously not privvy to this information. I can only do my best, do my research, put my passion for teaching down on paper, and hope that something sticks. I have every confidence in my interview ability, so it is just getting that chance to go and meet people face to face that I want.
    Someone had mentioned 'erratic' employment history. In Scotland we are employed by our local authority and not directly by the schools. On the back of that I have worked in three schools in three years, not because I wanted to but because of timetable issues, subject intake in other schools etc I have been moved around. So I would hope that if my application indicates 'three years continous service with my authority' it wouldn't be a bad thing that this has been in three different schools?
  12. How marvellous that the SMT Dude is so ethical. The following are recruitment practices that i have personally witnessed over the years by a variety of SMT members.
    1. Writing the job description so that only the pre-selected candidate gets the job.
    2. Employ married couples and then inform one half that the job they thought they had no longer exists - on arrival at the airport.
    3. Choosing only people with fewer qualifications and less experience so that they are not a 'threat' to their positions.
    4. Only hiring/promoting females (this was a woman).
    5. Advertising posts to spook their employees into early renewal of contracts.
    6. Blatant lying at interview regarding terms and conditions. The later justification for this behaviour was 'you wouldn't have come if I'd told you the truth'.
    This doesn't include agencies and websites continuing to work with schools and SMT that employ these practices year after year after year.
    So hoots to you!
  13. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    I know, I know.
    But nice to have someone else say so.
    Now, at least two or three of the six malpractices you describe above have some practical Machiavellian sense to them. Nobody minds being called intelligently wicked. Some of the other voodoo we are supposed to perform is just self-defeating and simple-minded.
    Let's see where we stand on the 'Are you an unethical SMT Dud?' test:
    1. Guilty. I've done this and know others who have. It's more honest, of course, and wastes less time, to announce, "We won't be interviewing for this post, I want to appoint Mr Oldgit". And I've done that, too.
    2. Incompetent as well as dishonest - never done that or heard of it, but take oldgit's word that it has ocurred.
    3. Have seen this happen. A sad thing to do, and clearly against the school's best interests. Can be avoided if, before each interview. when you go for a pee and to adjust hair and tie and brush the dandruff and crisp crumbs off your suit, you look in the mirror and say, "Darling, there is nobody more qualified and experienced than you!"
    4. Sexist (and racist) hiring practices are easier to allege than to prove, though I dare say it happens, especially in those ghastly cultures where fee-paying parents want no teacher with a skin tone darker than their own.
    5. Yes, guilty m'lud. Always first warning the victim, thus, "Mr Oldgit, as it is April Fool's Day already, and you have not renewed your contract and are presumably still engaged on a fruitless quest for employment elsewhere, I have to tell you that we must advertise your post to insure against being left without a Sociology teacher in September."
    6. Ridiculous behaviour. I guess it must happen at times. I was once taken to task by a new arrival because the insurance for kids cost €10 more than I had indicated at interview, but my lawyer says this is not significant enough to enter a guilty plea. I do, however, admire the cavalier in-yer-face sang froid of the justification.
    Nobody ever made a success of the world's oldest profession by being over-picky about the clients.
    Many a long year since I last heard that expression. You must be a very old git, oldgit!
  14. Mrs B would love for number 2 to happen. She'd simply say 'Alright hun, I'm off shopping, go and do your teaching thing, I'll see you later'.In effect the opposite has happened every time. I get a job, and once we are there she gets a local contract in my school whenever a vacancy opens.
    Number 6 has happened to me. And believe you me we are not talking about 10 quids. But you just shrug it off and move on.There are good and bad SMT just like there are good and bad teachers. Oldgit makes it sound like SMT are some kind of hive mind. The idea that there is a SMT cabal meeting in dark alleys to come up with the latest schemes to hurt fragile teachers, I mean, come on (well, ok, maybe MisterMaker does that).
    Honestly, I'd never become SMT (not that anyone would actually offer me to be). Even with the best of intentions you HAVE to be the bad guy, and put up with a lot of ****, AND you don't get to teach as much as you would normally do when being in a classroom is what I became a teacher for.
  15. So - the Dud admits to advertising posts for which he has already decided on an appointment. it doesn't suprise me.
    But spare a thought for the hundred or so punters who have done the research, written the personalised application, filled in the 12 page application form and generally leaped through the various hoops that he has invented.
    THAT'S 400 MAN HOURS WASTED! I have a mental picture of the Dud standing, collossus like, above the entrance hall clutching a throbbing member and demanding that the hand picked serfs that he has graciously allowed into his presence bow down before his genius. Fritz Lang - where are you when we need you most.
    Not only that, but how many will ever apply for that school again?
  16. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    No sensible Head ever does that!
    What you want is people who are better qualified, more experienced, cleverer and harder working than you, so that they can do your job for you while you lounge around in your office playing Angry Birds. I highly recommend this strategy to all other Heads.
    Best wishes
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
  17. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    No need in my case. I used it with outstanding success for 20 years. A SHA colleague of mine back in nineteen-hundred-and-frozen-to-death did his thesis on the subject of 'preparation for secondary headship'. He asked 30 established HTs what they thought were the salient characteristics of a successful Head. The one who replied 'an unthreatened acceptance of the talents and strengths of others' was recognisably my former boss who 'larned' me the job. Arguably he was barking mad but the school vibrated with energy. It was Hertfordshire's most highly subscribed comp with the parents fighting to get their kiddies enrolled.
  18. Arepa

    Arepa New commenter

    Stumigoo. Your concerns are quite valid. International education is very much a jump into the unknown. As such, it is not for everyone, in the same way, I should think, that Scotland and, I dare say, Scots are not for everyone. It takes, I believe (based on 42 years of living and teaching internationally, outside of Western Europe), flexibility, initiative, independent mindedness, adaptability and the ability to tolerate a bit of chaos. Only you can really judge whether or not you have these characteristics. If you do not, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you are not sure, my advice is to go for it. That way you will find out. Indeed, now having retired, I admit to missing the feeling of living on the edge of chaos that I had in Africa and Latin America.
    There are many who do not posses these characteristics and these threads are full of their inane and naive posts. Some lack initiative and independence so much that they cannot even do a simple search for information and so the same questions are repeatedly asked. Others, clearly expect other nations and international schools to conform to their expectations. Some of these people end up abroad and cause considerable aggravation. A former colleague just wrote me that her expatriate teacher resigned during Christmas because the accommodations were too luxurious and the school's students were too rich. The school and the country were not living up to her expectations of what life should be in the tropics.
    Hiring a stable and satisfactory faculty is one of a Head's main duties and, if not done well, can cost him/her their job. This is not only due to the expense of recruiting expatriates (with visa costs, housing costs, settling in costs, transportation costs, etc.) and then replacing them, but also because faculty selection is a reflection of the Head's judgment (to the Board, to parents, to students, and to other faculty. Imagine how the host country teachers would feel about the Head if a higher paid expatriate was a joke.). Moreover, unsuitable faculty cause trouble (in classrooms and/or between teachers) and that is one thing Heads do not want (as TheoGriff has written, they have their Angry Birds to attend to). It is to this end that Heads pay close attention when reviewing CVs to faculty stability: do they finish their contracts. I believe I am more sensitive on this issue that Don Dude as I have taken some chances on teachers and have been disappointed. There is bad luck, as I well know, but there are also teachers who continually bring it on themselves. Thus, Stumigoo, your three schools in three years, would ring alarm bells, so you should simply indicate the authority and that you have been there for 3 years. Also have some good recommendations.
    One last piece of advice. You appear to be applying to only one school. I would suggest that you open up you search. Apply to several, including ones outside of your comfort zone. Who knows, you might enjoy an adventure (try Bogota or Cali).
    Good Luck

  19. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    So, I'll guarantee, has the Dude. So have I. And if any HT claims not to have appointed the occasional loony s-he either hasn't been five minutes in the job or s-he is a liar and the truth is not in him-her.

  20. Syria1

    Syria1 New commenter

    The looney ones make the asylum! My favourite one was a mad (really) Canadian who attempted to teach Year 12 students cursive writing as a prerequisite for academic success. I was not involved in his hiring, but I was involved in his firing.[​IMG]

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