How to ACE your Interview!

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Sadly, this is the last day of extracts from Andy and Mel‘s new book ‘Getting into Secondary Teaching‘… but oh what a good last extract it is.

In this snippet the text discusses what to expect and how to best prepare for your interview.

Chapter 10- Successfully applying for a secondary ITE place

Student teacher voicesRebekah:I think in general the application process, especially the interview, is very daunting, but it gives you an insight into the year to come. It is a very challenging course, but extremely worth it in the end!

James:             The interview was perhaps the hardest part, due to a lack of previous interviews. It tried to prepare for the possible questions that could come up and made sure that my personal statement was not exaggerated.

Tom:Prepare for questions and be aware of current changes in education. Answer truthfully and honestly. Don’t try to lie about gaps in your subject knowledge!

What might you be expected to do at your interview?

You may be asked to make a brief presentation on a given topic, or you may be asked to teach a lesson on a particular theme. In these cases, if you are in school, you can anticipate that you will be asked to work with pupils in some way, though not all schools will expect you teach a full lesson to pupils. You could be asked to reflect on this at a later stage of the interview.

If asked to present, make sure you follow advice given on style and content. Stick to time limits (and make sure you have rehearsed the presentation, allowing for the nervous impulse that will speed your speech up under the duress of the moment). Address the people present in the room, your audience, and interact with them in as relaxed manner. A presentation is an opportunity for you to be seen in the communication mode that secondary school teachers use in almost every lesson:

  • addressing a group of people as an audience, engaging and holding attention, articulating a train of thought;
  • communicating ideas clearly and succinctly;
  • sign-posting the talk for the audience with verbal emphasis and appropriate gesture; summarising and managing visual aids or resources.

Try not to over-rely on a prepared script or prompt cards, as this will tend to make your talk rather dull. Have the confidence to know your major points and talk freely around your subject; it will always be more interesting and engaging.

You will be given the opportunity to respond to questions in a personal interview which will probably be with one or two tutors or school-based colleagues. Some interview panels can have more people present. You will have an opportunity to talk about your reasons for coming into teaching; what makes you choose your subject as your specialism in secondary school; and what you have learned about teaching and learning from your recent experiences in school. You should always answer with your own thoughts, making use of your preparation and research without trying to give a ‘correct’ or complete answer. The interviewer will ask supplementary questions, probing to see how much thought you have given to your future in teaching.

If you want more advice on prepping for your interview then read this blog post from our trainee teacher blogger Taylor Cornes.

For more details on book then go to our website where ALL titles are currently 15% OFF.

Otherwise please feel free to message in with any questions for us or for Andy and Mel at hannah@criticalpublishing.com

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Free and Useful Websites for Teaching Resources

Good Morning Guys!

We have yet another entry from our trainee student and blogger Taylor Cornes.

Today she is going to give you 3 FREE websites for teacher’s to use to aid and inspire lesson planning.

Every student likes a freebie here and there, and this definitely applies to trainee teachers and free resources. When planning lessons, I always look online for inspiration as the basis of teaching is borrowing and adapting already-existing lesson and activity ideas. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than finding the perfect resource online and seeing the subscription fee that goes along with it in order to download it. This setback often results in me creating a similar resource from scratch – which of course – takes a large amount of time. There are an array of websites which boast fantastic resources, but I am going to share with you my favourite three in this post.

Twinkl is a brilliant website with Key Stages and Year Groups clearly categorised, making it easy to find the age-appropriate resources that you are looking for. Although there are different levels of membership which do cost, the free resources (that are on there I promise!) are beautifully illustrated and can be downloaded as a PDF straight to your device ready for personalising or printing. At key points in the year such as Christmas, Easter and Bonfire Night, Twinkl release even more crafty resources especially designed for that event – and yes, some of these are free too! I could talk about how much I love Twinkl for longer, but my immediate plan for when I secure my first teaching job is to subscribe to the Platinum membership so I can access all of the resources!

Primary Resources is another excellent website that offers resources across the curriculum, and each resource states exactly what year group it is suitable for. The resources range from worksheets to presentations, games to videos and there is truly something there for everyone. The resources can be opened directly with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and therefore can easily be personalised and adapted to suit the needs of the learners within your class. Unlike Twinkl, all of the resources on Primary Resources are completely free!

TES is a website that I regard as the home of teaching. It has everything from current issues and news in the teaching sector, to job advertisements, and most importantly, free resources! As with both previously mentioned websites, you can quickly and easily find the age range of the children that you are finding resources for, and then pick the subject. The resources on TES are published by a range of authors, most of which are teachers who are simply sharing their resources with the rest of the teaching world, and some people even leave comments under the resource outlining exactly how they used it!

Of course there are more but these three are sure to be the best!

If you’d like any more information on technology and teaching then our book ‘Digital Literacy for Teachers’ is worth checking out! For details on any other title go to our website where all books are 15% OFF.

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Otherwise please feel free to message in with any questions for us or for Taylor at admin@criticalpublishing.com

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Technology for Teachers

Being a second year trainee teacher from the University of Worcester has given Taylor, our education blogger, an unparalleled insight into the latest methods of teaching.

In this wonderful and timely blog entry Taylor discusses which 3 Apps she has been introduced to on her course and how they can be incorporated into the classroom.

Welcome to the Technology Age!

Whether you regard yourself as ‘tech-savvy’ or not, there is no denying that we are experiencing the technology movement, and living in the technology age. We are surrounded by TVs, computers, phones and tablets, and so are most children, so it would be a shame to neglect such devices in the classroom and stick to a textbook way of teaching rather than exploring the many uses that technology can offer us as professionals.

I have been in many schools either on work experience or placement, and I have observed the range of technological devices dispersed throughout the school, so the worst case scenario I could think of would be for them to not be used! In this post I am going to share with you some of my favourite apps that I was introduced to in my Computing module, what they do, and how I think they can engage pupils. The three apps I am going to discuss are available on the AppStore on Apple devices, and I have used them on my iPad.

Book creator is an app that pretty much does what it says on the tin. It allows children to create their own stories, and be as creative as they wish. The interface is very user-friendly, and there are tutorials to help new users of the app. Children are able to change the colour of the background, input text with a font of their choice, and even add photos and videos to bring the book to life! I think that this app has so much potential within the classroom, and the opportunities for assessment are not only computing-based, but heavily focused around literacy and a child’s understanding of whatever task you set them.

Inspiration is an interactive mind-mapping app. The interface is again, very friendly, and the children can select from a range of templates and then input their own information. I feel that this app would be very useful for collating information and ideas quickly as the children do not have to spend a long period of time drawing the mind-map and the extensions coming off it – this is easily achieved by a click of a button. It is useful across curriculums as the templates are for different subjects, and the designs are catered for different topics within that subject.

Showbie is a slightly different app in that it is a quick and efficient way for teachers to collect any work created on a device like an iPad or computer digitally. This is particularly useful if you teach at an eco-school where unnecessarily printing is frowned upon, and for assessment purposes, this app is great at minimising pointless bits of paper that stay on a pile on your desk for weeks before being moved to the recycle bin. You can set up your classes or groups, and by the click of a button the children can upload the work that they have done into the folder – it’s as simple as that!

Our book ‘Digital Literacy for Primary Teachers‘ by Moira Savage is a fantastic text goes into more detail about the importance of being digitally literate.

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Keep up to date with more of Taylor’s posts by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter and liking our Facebook or Instagram page.

How to survive a University Interview

Happy New Year everyone!

So you’ve narrowed down the universities you want to go to, you’ve completed your application forms and you’ve passed the skills test. Now they’ve invited you to interview- DO NOT PANIC. Taylor Cornes, our trainee teacher from the University of Worcester, is back with some great advice for surviving and thriving in university interviews.

The journey of getting to University is made up of different stages: attending open days, choosing the University you wish to study at, completing an application form, and for some courses – mainly Primary Teaching – being interviewed.

The content of each interview varies between Universities, but for Primary Teaching they follow a similar structure. In addition to passing your skills tests, you might be asked to sit a numeracy or literacy test. In the numeracy test, the University is mainly checking to see if your capabilities align with their expectations. This is the same for the literacy test, but some Universities also check for quality of handwriting to ensure that it is legible – as clear handwriting is crucial in a classroom.

For me personally, I got very worked up at the thought of sitting these tests, and the pressure I put on myself, in hindsight, was completely unnecessary. My first tip therefore would be to remain calm and relaxed, and do not let the nerves get the better of you. The whole purpose of a University interview is for members of staff to see the person behind the writing, they want to know you, but this is made difficult if you are extremely nervous.

My second tip for surviving a University interview would be to do some reading around educational changes. This does not mean sitting for hours on end with a stack of newspapers – the internet and apps are useful tools, but you might be asked to discuss any changes within education during your interview, so it is better to be as prepared as can be. One important aspect to remember is that the members of staff who interview you do not want to hear a regurgitated news article; they want you to have your own opinion – and don’t forget you can be critical.

More often than not, at a University interview for Primary Teaching, you will be asked to share any experiences you have relevant to your career choice. Utilise this time and tell the interviewers what you have been up to, what you have learnt from it, and how it will help you in your professional practice as a teacher. Interviews are brilliant for expanding on any points that you have made in your personal statement, and you might be questioned by the interviewers so make sure you are ready.

Professionalism is key when attending interviews for this particular career, you not only need to look the part but try to carry yourself in a way that would portray an individual who was committed to teacher training. Do not be afraid to ask any unanswered questions you might still have – the interviewers don’t bite and have probably been asked the same questions many times before!

The two University interviews that I attended were both positive experiences, and hopefully, after following my advice, you will feel the same.

Our book ‘Getting into Primary Teaching‘ has some further advice to make sure you absolutely ace your university interview so check it out here.

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Are you worrying about the Skills Test?

Good Morning World. Taylor Cornes, our fabulous second year trainee teacher from the University or Worcester, has some great advice for passing the ITT skills test. So if you’re looking to become a teacher and your skills test is fast approaching, have a read!

For many, upcoming ITT skills tests are the avoided topic of every conversation due to the stress and panic that they bring. As a trainee teacher looking back, the thought of sitting a Maths and English GCSE equivalent exam made me feel nauseous, and I dreaded the day I would have to sit and take them.

In hindsight, panicking before you’ve even started revising is unnecessary and wont put you in the right frame of mind to study for the tests. I found that the fully interactive online practice tests (found on the Department for Education website) were an extremely valuable resource, and I would do at least two a day in preparation for the tests. It is a virtually identical format, and will get you used to the structure of the tests.

Other great resources I used – especially when revising for the numeracy skills test – were my old GCSE revision guides (in particular the CGP and Edexcel books). I was able to revisit the topics that were flagged up as my weakest areas on the online practice tests, and do more revision in order to better my scores.

There is also a skills test book, published by Critical Publishing, which is fantastic at answering any questions you might have prior to the tests, and includes sample questions and revision strategies.

When booking your skills tests, make sure that they are at a convenient time for you. If you book your tests around the time of your mocks or exams then your mind wont be fully focused, and you might end up putting yourself under too much pressure.

My advice for the days leading up to the skills tests would be to stay calm and collected. It is crucial that you get a good night’s sleep (not just the night before) so your brain is well rested, which will help you focus and absorb more information during revision and practices.

During the test do not panic, trust your ability and believe in yourself because that positivity will make all the difference. Make sure you do not rush and if you are stuck on a question, be conscious of the time, and move on. On a lighter note, during the tests (more so with the numeracy test), an invigilator will bring out new whiteboards for you to write your workings out on. Although it is polite to do so, don’t make the mistake of saying thank you each time the invigilator brings out a new whiteboard (I ended up saying thank you too many times, all the while losing precious seconds) – stay focused and pretend that no one is around to avoid you getting distracted.

With these simple tips, you should be well on your way of preparing for the skills tests, and remember, you have three chances!

Check out our book ‘Success! Passing the Professional Skills Tests for Teachers’ to ensure that you are as prepared as you can be when test day comes around.

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University Open Days: What to ask?

The days are shortening, the mornings are darkening and the end of October is finally here. Welcome back to our blogger Taylor Cornes, a second year University of Worcester student, who has some top tip advice about being ultra prepared for university open days.

For many, open days are the basis for the decisions individuals make regarding University and the place of study that they choose. It is exciting being given tours of the University with the thought of potentially studying there one day, but it is just as important to ask questions to find out whether it is the right place for you.

I would advise having some pre-planned questions before attending any open days to avoid the common mind-blank saga, and to ensure that you don’t leave the University wishing you’d asked something but hadn’t. There is no harm in asking the same questions at different open days, if anything it allows you to compare the responses and start deciding which University you prefer to the rest.

My main tip for open days would be speaking to current students! It is good and well speaking to lecturers and course leaders, but no one knows the course as well as the students who study there, so if you want an honest answer then they will be your most useful tool!

It is perfectly normal to question current students about balancing their studies and social lives, and whether they have a job whilst at University – these are the honest questions that will be of great benefit to you in the long run, and they are to be expected by the current students who, from my experience, are grateful to give you an insight into their life and their student experiences.

Another question I would recommend asking is what are the additional opportunities available to you as a potential trainee teacher at that University. This is where some Universities will outshine the rest, and as the teaching world is so competitive, it is important that you are fully in the know of what opportunities you can take up to enhance yourself and increase your employability.

The key to a successful and fully informative open day is having an open mind; as you walk around the University and meet the members of staff, always ask yourself “can I see myself studying here?” and remember that there is no such thing as a silly question!

We appreciate that picking the right university for you is super important and we want to make sure you are as informed as you can be when making that decision. So check out our books ‘Getting into Primary Teaching’ and ‘Success! Passing the Professional Skills Tests for Teachers’ for more information!

Choosing the Right University

Our blogger and second year primary student at the University of Worcester Taylor Cornes has some fantastic advice about choosing the right university for you.

University is a monumental milestone for all those who decide that further education is the right path for them, but with over 109 Universities in the UK alone, choosing the right one for you might fill you with trepidation.

Discovering Universities, before any open days, begins online and there are many websites available to assist students with this. Unistats is a fantastic website, and is excellent at comparing universities and informing you on what students thought about the course, but you shouldn’t make any decisions solely on the statistics that you see. You must remember that all students have differing opinions, and what one student feel works well might not necessarily work well for another person.

I started my search for a Primary Teaching course at a University fair at my college. I walked round each stall and asked the Universities local to me (University of Worcester, Birmingham City University, Newman University and University of Gloucestershire) whether they offered a Primary Teaching course and what the outline of the course was. I was adamant that I didn’t want to move away and would rather commute, hence why my choices were in close proximity to my family home.

After receiving bags full of prospectuses and leaflets from the fair, I began processing the information and my attention turned to the entry requirements, the student satisfaction rankings, and employability rates – this is when Unistats became very useful to me. Due to the hugely competitive nature of teacher training, I was more interested in the percentage of graduates who were employed after finishing their degree.

As informative and visually stimulating the University websites are, it is crucial that you book open days and talk to students and members of staff in person so you can get a real feel for the University and the course you are applying for.

Research is the key to choosing the right University for you. My advice would be to look at Universities with an open mind. There might be one that you hadn’t even considered before, but you really like the sound of it after looking online and you never know, you could end up studying there! You are able to apply to 5 Universities, and, with so much choice, you would be foolish not to!

If you’d like some more guidance or advice then have a look our books ‘Getting into Primary Education’ and ‘Success! Passing the Professional Skills Tests for Teacher’, great reads filled with the most essential and up to date information.