Shortly after receiving the invitation to interview at the SCITT I also received an interview to the University led PGCE course I had applied to.
The set up for this interview was different, the biggest difference being the lack of student interaction. No lesson to teach! I felt a wave of relief flood through me at that, instead I had to do a 2 minute technology free presentation on one of a number of topics provided. Then there would be a written task and the formal interview.
With an offer already under my belt by the time I came to prepping for this interview I was feeling better about my ability to actually become a teacher, and enjoyed writing my 2 minute presentation on ‘Girls and Science – A missing link?’. As a female scientist whose secondary education was mostly conducted in an all girls school I felt like this topic was made for me.
When the day came I arrived at the campus in good time, and then after checking into reception I spent the next half an hour reviewing and memorising my presentation. Suddenly I thought it was drivel, this little speech of mine was pointless and certainly wasn’t going to make the interviewers think I knew what I was talking about.
That, my friends, is self doubt. It is a mean, tiny voice in the back of your head that keeps trying to ensure that you never take a risk. After spending time battling Anxiety and Depression I had learned various methods of quieting or ignoring that voice, the one I find most effective is drowning it out with music. So in went the earphones, and away went my notes. And I took five minutes to listen to one of my favourite songs (Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin, in case you were wondering) and take a few deep breaths.
There were a couple of other interviewees in attendance and we were all shown through to an empty seminar room together. We took our seats and the interviewers started to go through an overview of the course, and generally put us at ease a little. Then we had to do our presentations. The first one was another Science applicant and his presentation was on why he wanted to be a teacher, it was interesting and well constructed. It did not comfort me.
I was next, I stood up, took a breath and started to speak slowly and clearly, maintaining eye contact with my audience, and trying hard to remember everything I wanted to say. Those two minutes went by quite quickly and soon enough the interviewers were asking me a few questions about my speech, just trying to clarify some points, and dig a little deeper ina couple of areas, but nothing too taxing. Then I got to sit down and listen to the third and final presentation from an Humanities applicant, it was interesting but certainly longer than two minutes.
The next part was the written task. I was presented with a list of common misconceptions that students have in science and asked to select one and write how I would approach correcting it in lesson. I chose one about a student believing that when a ceramic pot dried it was because the water had been absorbed by the pot. It was a challenge to think about how to show the idea was wrong, and demonstrate why, and what actually happens, but I managed to write it down in full sentences with proper punctuation and grammar in about 15 minutes. Two down, one to go.
The formal interview wasn’t as daunting the second time around, and actually ended up feeling more like an informal chat. I was complimented on my misconception busting idea (yes, I fist pumped inwardly). There were a few general questions, covering why teaching, my skills and experience, and of course, safeguarding. Then the question that made me pause for a moment before answering. ‘How would you plan a series of lessons teaching Electricity?’ The interviewer had deliberately chosen a Physics question as I had unwittingly disclosed that it was my weakest area, and my least favourite of the three sciences. But I managed to come up with a plan and outline it (check the schools Scheme of work and existing resources, refer to the national curriculum to see what needed to be covered, brush up on my topic knowledge, google for inspiration etc.).
Then she smiled at me, and offered me a place on the course. (Another mental fist bump with myself.) I thanked her profusely and went home to think about my options.
I had options. Wow.