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The Trial Day: How to be Confident, Calm and Most Importantly Prepared

Sarah O'Grady
14 Jul 2019
3 min read
The Trial Day: How to be Confident, Calm and Most Importantly Prepared

As an ex-Spanish teacher and talent finder at Zen Educate I want to help you tackle one of the hardest parts of finding a role: The trial day. Most schools will want you to come in for an interview and see you work with the children you will be assigned to.

You have a set amount of time to impress the school and it is important that you are prepared and demonstrate the best version of yourself.

Here are my pearls of wisdom, or ‘perlas’ as I like to call them, on how to ensure you perform well on your trial day:

Feel confident in your ability

Whether you have years of experience or are fairly new to the role you need to walk into the room feeling confident. This not only comes from your posture and attitude but from within. Feeling confident is not an easy skill and only comes naturally to a lucky few. For the rest of us, confidence comes from preparation.

Which leads me to…

…Understand the role and research the school

If you take one piece of advice from this article it is this: know the school. School settings are very different. Schools can be academies, local authority, free, private, or alternative provisions. They can have two-form entry, five-form entry or have classes with different year groups in them. When you walk into that interview you need to know what you’re getting yourself in for. In my last role, the clincher interview question was “Why do you think you are the right fit to teach young women of the future?” I had never taught all girls before but that wasn’t the point. They wanted to know how I would fit into their unique environment.

Here are the basic things you need to research:

    1. School setting
    1. Ofsted rating
    1. The role you are applying for. Ask for as much information as possible.

Be familiar with the school ethos

It always surprises me when I go to a new school how different one can be from another. A few simple examples of this are allowing teachers to give detentions or not, allowing teachers to call home or not, and allowing teachers to send students out of class or not. This information is always on the school’s website and will empower you to feel in control.

If you’re not sure what to wear, then dress smartly

No, I am not going to tell you what to wear, however, bear in mind that first impressions, especially with children, are based more on what you look like than your teacher persona. My rule is: If you’re not sure what to wear then dress smartly. You can always adjust this once you have the role.

A suggestion: Don’t wear trainers. Every school I have been to has a no trainers or jeans policy for teachers. I know some do allow them, but it is not worth risking your career on this. Wear formal shoes.

Be on time

Be on time. There’s nothing more to it. When I went to interview for Head of Spanish I was 30 minutes early and had a coffee before whilst re-reading some notes. I then rang the office 5 minutes early feeling calm and ready.

Be proactive

Don’t wait for instructions. You will be constantly juggling several balls at a time which will mean you need to be seeking answers and solving problems on your own rather than waiting to be told what to do. If you are a TA then get to know the child you are with. Find out their interests and help them with the work. If they need extra help then ask the teacher. At Zen Educate we often get feedback that the candidate didn’t get the role as “they weren’t proactive enough”. Don’t let that be you!

Relax the night before

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Have a good long salt bath, do yoga, read, light a candle, colour, paint, drink tea…. Do whatever it is that puts you in the right mind-set for the following day.

You’ve got this.

Good luck!

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