I am currently half way through my PGCE year, and it seems like ages ago that I went for my PGCE interview. The UCAS application is fairly straightforward and after sending mine off I started hearing back about interviews. Beginning a new career can be a daunting experience so I hope my experiences may be of use for anybody else who is going through a similar process at the moment.
Here are 8 tips to help you if you're facing an teacher training interview for English:
Brush up on your knowledge of YA fiction
Interviewers are going to be looking for your ability to engage with readers who are obviously younger than you are. YA fiction is hugely popular at the moment so it is important that you know as much as possible about it. They may ask you to recommend some books to read to a teenager who is disinterested in reading or who enjoys playing football, for instance. Take a look at the bestsellers list on Amazon - how many of them have you read? Yes, Jane Eyre is on the syllabus: it doesn't mean young people will enjoy reading it though!
Keep an eye on developments in the field of education
Education is constantly changing. Your interviewers are bound to ask you for your opinion on some of the many changes to the English GCSE course, so brush up on them if you're unsure. The best way to do this is to talk to teachers who are currently changing from the old format to the new - whether face-to-face or on Twitter. If you're in schools as a TA or observing, ask pupils what they make of the changes. Read teacher blogs on the changes, look for how they have adapted their teaching style and content. Keep an eye out on new developments - what's your take on grammar schools?
Spend time in schools
This is so important! Get into as many schools as possible, write to all of your local ones to get a feel for the different types of schools out there. I would also advise that if you want to teach secondary English to observe some English classes in primary schools too so you can see what is being taught there (and what you may need to brush up on in your spare time).
Get a Twitter account
If you aren't on Twitter, make yourself a Twitter account. There's so much helpful stuff on there. Be it experienced teachers sharing resources, trainees talking about their courses, or fellow applicants going through exactly the same thing you are. Get on there and join in with the chats. You'll start to appreciate the community of teachers who are available at all hours to help. #TeamEnglish and #ITTchat are good places to start (and follow me - @ellekayem)
Stick to your strengths
If you're asked to prepare an activity, presentation or starter for a class: stick to your strengths. Choose a topic that you're passionate about and your confidence will come naturally. If you're stuck for ideas, don't forget the helpful teachers on Twitter who are sharing resources and advice constantly.
Remember that not everybody loves English
Presumably you're thinking about becoming an English teacher because you love English. Your experiences of English lessons and being told to 'read in silence!' won't have you waking up at night in a cold sweat. Not everybody feels this way. Some people struggle to read, to hold a pen, to voice their opinions in front of their peers. Always take this into consideration whether you're planning an activity for your interview or your first lesson. How will you accommodate these children? How can you make sure that English isn't a lesson that they hate?
Keep an open mind
I remember sitting in my interview for my course when they said "you know the places on the PGCE course are full?" Errrr no I didn't! They asked me if I had considered doing my training with School Direct, handed me a 30 page list of the schools they worked with and told me to choose. Don't worry if things don't go to plan - there is probably something much better suited to you and the type of teacher you will be in the future.
Know the school or course you're applying to
There are so many different training options available: why have you chosen this particular course? Or this particular school? Your interviewer is almost definitely going to ask you. Read the Ofsted report, the online syllabus, scour the website until you know everything there is to know about it. They will be impressed that you have taken the time to come to your decision and researched it properly.
Most importantly: take your time, don't panic and rush into something you're unsure of. It's a career, not a hobby. Make sure you're certain before dedicating yourself to it.
I hope that this was of some help, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to comment below or send me a tweet (did I mention how much I love Twitter!?)