Just a couple of days after pressing that little button on UCAS I had an email in my inbox from the SCITT I had applied to. They wanted to interview me. Awesome. And terrifying. The whole time I had been working on my application I had completely ignored the fact that the next step was the face to face, real life interview.
I’m okay at writing, selling myself on paper is fine when I have lots of time to read, review, edit, ask others to read it… but actually telling someone why they should want to give me the chance to be a teacher, I’m not so good at that. And on top of the formal interview, they wanted me to do a twenty minute lesson to a group of year 8’s. So a room of thirty thirteen year olds. Even scarier.
Thankfully they gave me a topic for my twenty minute lesson, ‘How science works’. Vague is always good. So after sending my confirmation of attendance I set to work figuring out what I was going to tell these new teens about ‘How science works’. I decided on Hypothesis Testing, as a basic principle of all scientific working it seemed like a good topic to cover. Now, how was I going to make this interesting? I know, a Whodunnit! So I made my PowerPoint and handouts and remade my PowerPoint and roped my dad and a few work colleagues into being my guinea pigs to check that it all worked well and tried to stop playing around with it.
Next I had to prep for the interview, reading up on the current issues in education and events currently impacting teachers. Safeguarding. Workload. Retention Crisis. All that jazz. I had to think about how I’d answer typical interview questions, with a lot of help from my Teacher Training Advisor from Get into Teaching.
I was as ready as I was ever going to be once I’d Google mapped the school and figured out what time I’d need to leave the house to make sure I wasn’t late.
I got to the school, in the rain, early. I was 20 minutes early so got to spend some time (after having my photo taken and signing in) psyching myself out and convincing myself I was never going to manage this.
A lovely woman came to collect me and escort me into an empty classroom, she ran through the plan for the day and then set me to work planning the two minute presentation I was to give at the start of my formal interview about how I got to this point.
Then it was a subject knowledge test. GCSE questions on Biology, Chemistry and Physics. I was told to focus on the Biology ones, as that is the specialism I was applying for, but to try the others if I could. Most of the Biology questions were about Genetic Inheritance so it wasn’t too bad, but the Chemistry and Physics questions required more information than I was provided, such as a periodic table or equations.
The next task was my lesson. I was collected from the holding room and taken to a classroom to set up before the students arrived. I got my PowerPoint loaded, and figured out the clicker/pointer just as the students started to arrive. I also made sure to give the host teacher a copy of my PowerPoint and the worksheet I was giving out to the class. The year 8’s were noisy but settled quickly and seemed to enjoy the Whodunnit approach to the topic, responding to questions and sharing their thoughts. My final slide explained how the Whodunnit tied to Hypothesis testing, and led to a quick discussion about famous Theories developed using the process and how they use it in their everyday lives as well. I thought it went well.
Back to the holding room to wait for my formal interview.
My formal interview was with the SCITT training lead and the SCITT Science lead. They were very nice, and tried very hard to put me at ease. We started with my presentation about how I got to the point where I wanted to be a teacher. They seemed to like that. Then the questions began. First they were about what I thought about teaching, what kind of teacher I think I’d be, how I’d deal with a safeguarding concern, how could I relate to the students and engage them effectively. I’d prepared for most of these and could answer relatively easily. Then the tricky one.
“Tell me about a time you have failed and how you dealt with it.”
I managed an answer, sort of. It was really a none answer, waffling about not ever really considering that I’ve failed at something because I’ve always learned something from it. Seemed like a good answer at the time when my mind blanked on a failure.
Next was the real killer, a subject knowledge question.
“Where does the mass of trees come from?”
Now that was something I’d never even thought about before, which I said clearly and plainly, and I had no real idea. So instead I started reasoning out what I thought, verbally. They guided me gently and questioned some of my assupmtions to help me reach the answer.
All in all I was at that school for about three hours, and was made to feel welcome and as comfortable as possible throughout, but I wasn’t sure how it had gone or what the outcome would be.
The next day I had an email offering me a place at the SCITT.