Job hunting is difficult at the best of times. And in this time of ‘The Great Resignation,’ the job market is approaching ‘the best of times’ for teachers, who can more or less have their pick. Schools have the budget and the desperate need to complete COVID catch-up instruction, and many are scrambling to make their working environments more appealing.
But amidst all the marketing flash, some red flags are easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Everyone has a horror story about a horrible job interview—or, worse, a horrible job. We wrote this post to ensure that the next teaching job you take is the right one for you.
Whether you’re looking to take a full-time teaching position in the UK or make extra money teaching from anywhere, here’s how to make sure a school is a good fit for you.
Before you apply: do your research
The process of finding your perfect school begins before you ever fill out an application or send off a CV.
Consider what makes you happy (or unhappy) in a working environment. If you’re new to teaching, you can base this on prior working experiences or even your time at university. Do you enjoy working in person or from the comfort of your living room? In large, bustling, city environments or quaint countryside villages? Do you prefer a fast pace that’s all about results, or more time to engage and get to know individual students?
The cultural fit of a school is particularly important to consider. If you can, observe or ask about how the current staff engage with the students. How do they think about education? Are they results-oriented or process-oriented? Innovative or steeped in tradition?
Once you have your target criteria well in hand, conduct research on schools to find those that match. Whether you prefer a small countryside setting, the bustle of a city, or a fully online teaching experience, filter your search for schools that fit your desired criteria.
During application: the devil's in the details
Once you apply, pay close attention to every step of your experience as a candidate. The way you’re treated at the application stage is a good indicator of how the organisation functions as a whole. For instance, if you constantly have to chase the administration for an update on your application status, it could be a sign that the school isn’t very well-organised.
Also, pay attention to how the staff engage with parents, students, and each other. This observation works best in person, but open forums like social media can provide a valuable online window—as long as you proceed with caution. Public-facing websites or social accounts are often carefully cultivated and don’t necessarily present a complete picture of reality. A frequently updated and flawless website could mean that the school pays more attention to its online presence than its educational experience.
If you plan to teach in person, complete an on-site visit. If the school doesn’t offer to arrange one, organise a visit for yourself. Taking the initiative marks you as an especially engaged candidate, and the process of arranging the visit will also provide valuable insight into how the school is run.
When you’re there, stop by the staffroom to chat with staff—or simply listen. A quiet staffroom could mean that teachers aren’t interacting, which doesn’t bode well for a new teacher looking for support or camaraderie.
During the interview: ask the right questions
During the interview, keep an ear out for questions that allow you to demonstrate your passion for your subject, rather than simply listing off procedural details. These kinds of questions are more than platforms for you to share your best qualities as a teacher; they’re a good indicator that the school cares deeply about the engagement of its instructors.
Here are some questions to ask that yield valuable insight:
- Can you describe a typical day in this position/at this school?
- What are the characteristics of teachers who succeed at this school?
- How will my performance be measured, and how frequently will I receive feedback?
- What are some of the challenges you currently face, and how are you working to overcome them?
- What do you like best about working at this school?
Remember—during the interview process, you’re interviewing the school as much as they are interviewing you. Ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable and confident in your choice, even if you’re interviewing for a fully remote position. Regardless of where and how you teach, a school’s culture and expectations have a big impact on your overall experience.
We specialise in pairing the best teachers with their perfect schools. Book a call with Ashley today to explore how we can help you find your ideal teaching job.