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Interview Tasks - Help Required!


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Hi, I don't know if I am suffering from half term mental block but I am struggling with a bit of a problem at the moment. I am currently Acting Head at my school (small Infant school in Derbyshire) and I have just advertised for a new teacher in Reception from September. Governors (and myself) would like candidates to do a short task with a group of children which would enable us to a) observe interaction with children, :o make some judgements about preparation, resources provided etc and c) allow us to see how candidates reflect and evaluate on their own performance. I am trying to think of a simple task that will allow us to assess these things but which will not be too daunting for candidates (it's not that long ago since I was on the interview circuit and I want it to be a positive experience). As I say, I am stuck at the moment - I've toyed with an oral mental maths starter, a story with a PSE theme, a science based discussion etc. but I just keep getting stuck with details. Can anyone help?

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Hi Angela,

What about leaving it to the candidates to choose the small group activity? That way, you'll see them at their best as they'll choose something they feel comfortable with. You could suggest that the activity should cover several areas of learning simultaneously, as most activities do in the Foundation Stage, don't they? I think yours is a very good idea, and although a bit scary for the candidates, it does give them a chance to show off! :D They will also need to know what facilities they will have available and what the timescale is (and how many people will be observing them!)

Let us know how it goes. When I employ staff in the nursery, we always ask them to come in for a couple of hours to play with the children, so we get the information that you too are looking for. Interaction with the children is THE most important part of the job! :D

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I always find doing this sort of thing really scary, as I know that nerves always get the better of me and Im not at my best. If you decide to go with Helen's suggestion ie to give the candidates a choice, I would suggest that you give a theme to work around. Perhaps the theme that the class are currently working with, otherwise it can be completely out of any context for the children. I think its really difficult when you have a complete free reign, especially if there isnt much time to prepare. I like the idea of a story, but I have in the past also done a circle time at interview, which I found easier as In asked the Head to be part of the circle so it was less daunting. (and yes I got that job!!).

 

Whatever you decide, I hope you get the right person, and do let us know how it goes. :o

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Thanks for the suggestions so far - yes I agree that the activity needs to be in context - I hadn't thought of that - told you I had mental block - I blame it on all the pressures that go with being a Head teacher (he he)- I am now thinking along the lines of asking candidates to plan a short activity with Minibeasts as the theme and to ask them to put their own slant on it - maybe combining 2 or 3 areas of learning as suggested or focusing on one particular area such as Physical development. There is definitely food for thought here, so thanks for taking the time to help out!

I'll keep you posted as to the progress of the whole process.

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Hi

I know the teaching sessions at interview are becoming more popular and widespread but it scares me, as like Mundia I am very nervous at interview!

As I am now on the job market I am hoping that any interview I might get will be as painless as possible and preferably task free.

I understand the reasoning behind the tasks etc but do feel that even with a task in context it might not be the way to bring out the best in teacher/ candidate. Little children are very good at picking up vibes and may not respond well to a nervous candidiate?

Its a completely different ball game being the teacher to the student and I wonder whether the same doesn't apply to candidates in this position?

 

As a member of SMT in my last school I have both interviewed alongside the head and been with her to visit candidiates and watch them teaching in their current schools but I have not observed in our school as this was never possible, for various reasons.

I would have no objection to being observed within my own classroom but to interact infront of unknown children and with observers, would be more difficult/ nerve racking.

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I sympathize with you too, Susan. This kind of analysis is much more like a performance. And we're not all performers. Teachers who are perfectly natural and engaging with their own class will often alter their interaction noticeably when being observed.

 

I'm offering that simply from remembering teachers under observation when I was a child. If I can notice and remember that way from way back it must have been significant.

 

Different strokes, I guess.

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Interesting thoughts - I had considered visiting candidates in their own setting but there is a problem here with equal opportunities - what about NQTs who do not have a class of their own? Candidates who might live far away (even abroad!)? To give a level playing field every candidate should have the same opportunity - presentations, tasks and observations are part and parcel of interviews these days - I've been checking! so it's a case of biting the bullet. I know it's an artificial situation and we are asking people to perform but to be brutally honest, if they can't perform then are they in the right job? Aren't we by the very nature of our chosen profession "performers" - I feel like I am!! Anyway, I'm happy that what we've chosen to do won't be too daunting so fingers crossed for some interesting times ahead/

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I think the minbeasts idea is a good one., and if you leave the candiddates to decide, you should get a variety of input- if they are all teaching the same class, you dont want them all to be the same or the chidlren will get bored.

let us know how it goes. :o

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Hi everyone, just thought i'd add my views to this topic. In my school they ask candidates to take a storytime session (no longer than 15 mins). They inform them of the age range they will read to, as this helps them to assess if they choose an appropriate text. This is effective as you can see the management and organisational strategies used, the creative ideas which the candidate has (to bring the story to life as such!) and the rapour (is that how you spell it?) that they have with the children. This is all recorded on a prepared chart. Hope that's in any way helpful!!!!! :D

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