First of all, if you are looking for your first teaching job and haven't found one yet, don't panic! I got my current job about two days before the May half term holiday! Many teaching jobs come up around April/May so there is still plenty of time.
Including my PGCE application, I have applied for 7 jobs over the last 13 years and been successful in five of them. I believe that everything happens for a reason and the two roles which I didn't get weren't right for me at the time. So don't feel too disheartened if you aren't successful! Ask for feedback and work on it for next time.
My top tips for job applications:
So how do I go about applying for a job? These are just my thoughts and tips based on my own experience. As well as applying for jobs, I have also been on a number of interview panels for language assistants through to SLT posts so I have some experience from the other side too.
The formal interview may only be one part of the whole process. In many schools you may be asked to teach part of a lesson, present an idea, complete a written task and if for MFL, have a conversation in the language(s) you speak.
Please comment and let me know if you would add anything to the above list! And feel free to contact me if I can help in any way.
Good Luck - You've got this!
At the beginning of this year, I was bracing myself for a return to work following a year of maternity leave. This was my second maternity leave in five years and though I had worked a couple of years part-time in the middle, knowing that I wanted a second child, I was never really able to get my head back into career-mode. So for the few years prior to 2020, my life was very much about working part-time, doing my job as Head of German and a teacher of Spanish (well, I hope) and then coming home and caring for my toddler and also soon-to-have second baby.
So in January of this year, upon my return after mat leave, I bounded into school, walked into our languages office and with pent up nerves, excitement and adrenalin, prepared myself to see my lovely colleagues, many of whom I hadn't seen for a while. Only to find that there was no-one there! Suddenly feeling a sense of disappointment and with a pang of guilt for leaving my children, I held back the tears. Silly I know, but I think the nerves took over! I put the kettle on (always my first task in a morning) and luckily one of my colleagues came in and snapped me out of whatever little state I had got into. And then after about twenty minutes, as is always the case with this job (and I am sure many others), it was like I had never been away. I was grateful for the head popping his head into my lesson and offering support; reminding me that nothing had changed 'it's just learning and they're just children' or words to that effect and I got through the day without any more tears.
The first few weeks back were great. I work in a wonderful school, with fantastic students and lovely staff and on the last day before breaking up for the Feb half-term break, I remember belly-laughing with my HOD and a fellow German teacher and telling them how glad I was to be back. As much as I love being a mum, I also love my job and feel very lucky to be able to do the two!
Little did I know, that only a couple of weeks after half-term, we would be in lockdown due to a worldwide pandemic. A few students were being plucked out of lessons here and there after being on holiday in Italy, but like many, I had no idea of what was to come!
So after only a couple of months back teaching, I suddenly found myself gearing up to offer remote learning. My colleagues and I muddled through for the first few weeks. Our school had been particularly well-organised and so we had some things online already but we had no idea how to move forward. How do we teach a foreign language remotely?
And this is where the wonderful world of social media came to my rescue! I already had a teacher account on Instagram but I didn't really engage with it, and similarly I had Twitter but never used it. Facebook was my main source of networking and it was on here that I saw the Linguascope webinars being advertised and I was inspired by the lovely Suzy Bewell who talked about culture in the MFL classroom. Joe Dale and his brilliant webinars on technology in the MFL classroom and how to teach remotely became a lifesaver and I quickly became confident using websites such as mentimeter and whiteboard.fi. It was during a late night webinar watching Joe Dale present to hundreds across the world, that I decided to make myself a cuppa at 11pm which resulted in me spilling boiling water all over me and ending up spending the night in A&E - I will forgive you Joe ;) This was my first experience of wearing a mask too!
I began to become more and more inspired by accounts on Instagram and I tried to find more secondary teachers, particularly MFL accounts, but with little success. Slowly, more accounts appeared and I started the hashtag #MFLinsta and created a list of MFL accounts to help others on the search. I started tweeting a bit too and it was after a tweet about a website shared on Instagram about liveworksheets.com (thank you @laclassedemademoisele) , that Joe Dale got in touch and asked me if I wanted to do a TiLT webinar. Terrified but absolutely honoured to have been asked, I agreed! Following on from this, I was given other opportunities to present and I continue to be extremely grateful for the opportunities social media has given me this year!
Following work in 2019 for BBC Bitesize, writing their new online KS3 German content (something which I did on maternity leave), I was also asked to write a series of German programmes for the Iplayer daily shows. At one point, I was asked to go to Salford to work on set but due to covid, this didn't end up happening. But writing the lessons, speaking on the phone to the script writer and being involved in a large BBC zoom call with all other educational consultants was a fantastic experience! I also worked on the new bitesize game, Festilingo, proof-reading the German.
Alongside my remote teaching, bitesize work, watching endless amazing webinars and looking after my children, I also ran some free Spanish lessons online for my friends' children on a Saturday morning. Something which I loved and I am hoping to offer more online tutoring in the new year!
The return to school in September 2020 was always going to be a strange one. I was soo ready to be back and really happy that we were, despite the changes! I know for many, returning to school has been a real source of anxiety and that I can completely understand. From having to stand in a box at the front of the room, to frisbying anti-bacced whiteboards to any student who had forgotten/lost their own, to quarantining books before and after marking, it is safe to say that this has been the strangest time in my thirteen year career. I miss being able to work closely with students, shoulder-marking and offering verbal feedback, walking around the room to monitor and engage them and being able to do more dynamic activities such as group-work and activities which require them to move around the room. But in return, I have learnt so much this year and built up a fantastic bank of new resources, ideas and skills (especially regarding ICT and online learning). Zoom revision lessons with my Y11 from the comfort of my living room have been a real game changer!
With the first week back in January already being moved mainly online due to a new strain of covid, who knows what next year will bring. It's certainly very different to the teaching I was returning to a year ago. I look forward to writing a review next year and hoping that everything has gone back to normal! In the meantime, I will try to make the most of it by continuing to take advantage of all of the fantastic CPD, support and inspiration out there on social media! Thanks to everyone for your support this year, be it family, friends, colleagues at my school or my 'virtual' colleagues. I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a much better 2021!
I first started using iDoceo to plan a few years ago after returning from maternity leave and taking over classes half way through the year. I think planning is quite a personal thing and everyone has their own system, so I found it really difficult using someone else's planner. I thought it would be a great time to try out a digital planner and now I wouldn't go back to planning on paper.
So why digital planning? For me, the main advantage is being able to easily delete, change and add students without messing up your planner. It used to really frustrate me how, if a new student arrived in the class, I would have to write them at the end of my class list, which was then not alphabetised. So when transferring data onto our online system, I would then get in a muddle as my list no longer replicated the list on the screen. Plus adding and deleting students from lists just made the planner look messy. With digital planning, you just delete or add the student and iDoceo does the rest. The only real downside is that you need a tablet computer with you in school. As far as I know, iDoceo does not yet have a desktop version. Fine for me as I use my personal iPad in school.
Here are a few of the key features which I really like about iDoceo:
I really love using iDoceo. It takes a bit of setting up and getting used to but once you have, it is brilliant! There are so many features and a lot has been changed or updated since I last used it so I'm looking forward to having a play around with it this year once back in school. The app itself costs about £12 but this is a one-off payment which is a bit of a bargain really!
If you fancy switching to digital planning, check it out and let me know if you do!
P.S If you follow me on Instagram, I have done a quick recording of some of the gradebook features on IGTV.
I started mentoring PGCE students in my second year of teaching and have mentored quite a few trainees and NQTs since then. It has definitely been one of the most rewarding parts my job. I therefore thought it might be useful to jot down some tips for anyone starting out in their career. These are my own opinions and not necessarily shared by my school.
I have had my teacher Instagram account for nearly a year now. I set it up to follow primary school teachers as my daughter starts school in September and I wanted to get some ideas on activities to try with her at home. I soon discovered some secondary accounts and MFL-specific accounts too. With thanks to some fun MFL-specific photo challenges by @pagepracticepodcast, more and more MFL accounts began to appear and the teacher instagram world seems to be growing. I decided to compile a list to help grow the community and following a poll on my stories, came up with the hashtag #MFLinsta. Currently there are over 100 accounts on the list which I try to share every Friday and this includes secondary teachers, trainees, private tutors, publishers and more from countries as far as the US and Australia. The #MFLinsta feed has over 1000 posts and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the community grows over the next year. Check out the #MFLinsta highlight on my account:
I've really enjoyed all the free CPD which has been put on offer by various different organisations during lockdown. It’s no surprise that the wonderful MFL world has come together to offer support, training and inspiration during this difficult time. It is so incredibly kind of people to give up their free time and film training sessions/run webinars to keep us inspired for when we eventually return to the classroom. I have particularly enjoyed the Linguascope webinars. I have found all of the presenters very warm and relatable and have come away armed with ideas which I can't wait to take back into school with me. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a 'Show & Tell' session being advertised which invited participants to share a 5 or 10 minute teaching idea and thought I would submit a proposal to give something back for all the great ideas I had already magpied! I attended a few Show & Tells years ago when they were put on by the #MFLtwitterati and really enjoyed them, so this kind of webinar was right up my street! A week or so later, I was contacted to see if I was still able to present and I nervously said that I would. The idea of presenting something to your peers is always a difficult one I think, especially via video conferencing. I previously held a Teaching and Learning co-ordinator role at my school so have led the odd school-wide CPD session and I once did a presentation about my masters to PGCE students at the University of Sheffield, but otherwise presenting to other teachers is fairly new to me. Anyway, I did it and I think it went quite well. I shared a couple of low effort, high impact ideas which always work well for me in the classroom (see Quatschen and Poker in Quick Wins). I had some nice feedback and my deputy head also ended up watching and emailed to say that he’d seen me telling the MFL world to speak rubbish and play poker! Haha! Though I was extremely nervous, this five minute presentation gave me the confidence to say yes to other opportunities and since then, I have recorded a podcast with the Teacher Planning Podcast and was even asked by Joe Dale to deliver an hour long TiLT webinar for ALL London on some of the ways I have taught remotely. That was a real 'pinch me' moment and certainly an opportunity that I will remember for a long time. I sometimes wonder why I put myself forward for things or say yes to things that actually terrify me, but I know that that would be the easy way out and as the WomenEd movement keeps reminding me, sometimes it really is worth being 10% braver.
I miss people.
Having recently returned to work after a year of maternity leave (second time in the last 4 years), I was really happy to be back at work. I had my spark back! I love being a mummy but I also love being a teacher and I am very lucky that I get to split my week and do both. Only a few weeks into my return to work and I am at home again. On lockdown. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite enjoying being at home with my little family again and spending time with them. We are well, we are safe and we are together. But the same as everyone else, I miss my family and friends and I miss my students and colleagues. So over the last few weeks, I have re-engaged with social media. Despite being one of the first to get Facebook (year abroad/uni days), the online world scares me a little. I use it personally but haven’t really dared to put myself ‘out there’ publicly and in a professional context. Twitter reliably informs me that I joined in 2011 but I find it quite confusing and tend to dip in and out of it. I did discover the wonderful Mfltwitterati which has been invaluable in my teaching so far and I now also use the MFL Facebook groups to share ideas and thoughts.
Instagram is my current fave, however. I created my @_leolanguages instagram account a few months ago whilst still on maternity leave and I am becoming more and more confident with it. I love the photography and ‘showiness’ of it all. I follow quite a few primary teachers but it doesn’t currently seem to be used by many UK secondary teachers (or if so I’m yet to find many). But I’m hoping to keep building it. Also along with many others at the moment, a Zoom meeting is a daily occurrence (either to online quiz with family or to run a little Spanish lesson for my friends’ children). I haven’t yet used it in a capacity as a teacher.
The online world has become a new reality and one which many people have been forced to get on board with. I am really enjoying connecting with other teachers online, and Twitter, Instagram and all the wonderful free CPD which is being offered (and which I am taking advantage of) is really helping to keep me inspired and motivated while not in school. So that brings me to this blog…. an online journal of my thoughts and ideas as a secondary MFL teacher. Something that I have wanted to do for a while but life hasn’t allowed me the time. A place to keep all of the teaching tips, advice and hacks that I have been collecting along the way. I may not even dare publish it but I am going to have a lot of fun creating it. 🙂