In our most recent blog post we discussed our #1 thing you can do to impress at a teaching interview - prepare examples to use as answers for questions.
Our #2 tip will assist you with your interview preparation - research the school. The idea is to build up a picture and understanding in the school, both to help prepare examples for questions you anticipate the panel asking but also help you prepare relevant, knowledgeable questions to ask yourself at the interview - which we'll look at in more depth in the next blog post.
Here are some ideas for your research process prior your interview:
1. Visit the school or centre or arrange a talk with the Principal/HOD/centre manager. This is your best possible source of information! Ideally you should do this prior to your interview - i.e. when you write your cover letter. These kinds of meetings are a fantastic time to find out what the school or centre is really looking for, and will give you a lot more information than the advertisement. Our blog post about cover letters has some tips on what questions to ask during your visit or meeting.
2. Read the school or centre website thoroughly. The quality of these websites can vary wildly, but can be an invaluable source of information. You can find out about the school or centre's culture and community, what's happening in terms of teaching and learning, the philosophy/values/vision, who's on the staff and upcoming events. Most schools or centres will make their annual plan and/or charter available on the website - print these out and take the time to read these, as it will give you a great idea on what the priorities are for the school or centre moving forward.
3. Read the ERO report for the school/centre. You can find all ERO reports online at http://www.ero.govt.nz/. ERO reports are carried out by the the Education Review Office, a New Zealand government department that evaluates and reports on the education and care of students in schools and early childhood services. This is a really useful source of information from an 'outside' perspective, and gives a great overview of the school or centre's context, teaching and learning and curriculum. It can also be useful to read past reports to get an idea of how the school or centre has evolved and improved.
4. For schools - research their National Standards or NZQA results. These are available on the website School Report. This will give you a broad overview of the students' academic achievement and where the school is likely to be looking at making improvements.
5. Find out what others say about the school or centre, outside of the senior management team. If you know a teacher at the school or centre, you can absolutely talk to them about the school. Parents or other members of the community are other excellent sources of information. It may also be worth asking your visiting lecturer if they've observed a teacher in the school or centre, and what their thoughts are.