I can’t believe it.. I’ve landed it, THE DREAM JOB, managing and teaching a course, which will allow me to use the last 20 years; my military career, personal experiences, fitness and even my hobbies to help mould the future of the British Military and Public Service Sector…
…Oh no thats right, I didn’t get it…I didn’t get the dream job…s**t.
Don’t get complacent, don’t count your chickens etc etc. I couldn’t help but get excited, professionally it ticked all the boxes (logistically it was a total nightmare) but here’s the thing, I wasn’t prepared; I thought I had in the bag. The interview; a simple, seven question interview which should have allowed me to eloquently present my teaching philosophy to the most receptive ears a budding teacher could ask for; but I didn’t, I was complacent. I wasn’t nervous, truth is, as a long time recruiter, interviewer and extrovert, I stumbled in an area I thought I had covered. I couldn’t work out what the ‘right’ answers were, and as such fell short in practically every area apart from the ‘wise crack about being naked from the waste down’ area (which I thought it was hilarious [it was a Skype interview]).
I was offered feedback last week, which of course as any self critical, reflective educator would, I gladly accepted (read: “what on earth could it have been that someone did better than me?”). In brief the feedback read “we enjoyed speaking to you but you really should have expanded on…”; this stung. A dear friend of mine said to me shortly after “I’m wondering if it was the equal ops (interview) that tripped you up, its hard to show what you’ve got unless you jump though their hoops in very specific ways”. This was certainly a part of the issue, the panel was clearly on a schedule with agenda, which I hadn’t anticipated. I had expected a flowing interview, which would allow me to quickly build rapport and be home for ‘tea and medals’ before you could say ‘authenticity’.
Interviewer: “How would you define a brilliant lesson as opposed to a great lesson”
Me:”erm” (*Johnny’s first mistake)
Here it was, the proverbial diving board that I should have driven at high speed into any number of elements from my last two years of learning with the PIDP; instructional strategies, feedback, authentic assessment, student goals…My answer was that good, that I don’t even remember what I said.
In the moment, I didn’t really know what to say. “You just know” I said. “if you’ve prepared an authentic lesson which allows the learner to X,Y, Z and the feedback and feelings that you get are positive, then surely you’ve delivered a brilliant lesson?” Really Johnny? How about “is there such a thing?” As reflective practitioners, we should always be looking for ways to improve our practice, times change, technology changes…our subjects take new and exciting paths. While I knew what I meant regarding the brilliant lesson, I didn’t give the interviewers anywhere near the confidence that I actually did know what I was talking about. So? How would I define the brilliant lesson? How would you?
You’re prepared, you’re confident you’re passionate and approachable. You create a presence in your classroom that promotes learning from the outset. You listen to your learners, you show that you care about them, you connect. You adapt, you stay flexible. You deliver material in a thoughtful, enthusiastic, valid, relevant and challengingly achievable way. You listen. You use a teaching style that suits your learners, and not necessarily yourself. You listen. You use assessment techniques that allow everyone to grow, yourself included. Cover these few points and the lesson that ensues, will likely be ‘rather good’.
I had so much to offer this job but have no-one to blame but my self. I literally just described a brilliant lesson by starting with “you’re prepared” – I wasn’t prepared.
I began by saying that this job would have allowed me to “utilize the last 20 years; my military career, personal experiences, fitness and even my hobbies” When I didn’t get the job, this was my disappointment…bitter disappointment quite honestly. Now, a few sleeps on, I remind myself that wherever I end up teaching next, I will always be able to use the last twenty years, my experiences, my learning – thats what makes me authentic, valid and ultimately, a teacher.