Schools Direct interview - teaching activity - help!

(51 Posts)

I have an interview for a primary schools direct (salaried) place next week. The first day is all observations etc, but the 2nd day we're asked to teach a 20 min session on "any area of the curriculum" to year 4's.

Aargh! I know the school, but haven't taught before. Where do I start? Any areas to aim for/avoid? As I know what the school is working on this term, should I go with that or avoid completely?

Thanks in advance, I'm starting to feel a bit headless chicken already...

EvilTwins Mon 03-Feb-14 17:46:01

Sorry to be harsh, but why are you applying for this if you have no idea what to do one week before the interview, and have to ask on an internet forum?

HamletsSister Mon 03-Feb-14 17:47:12

What are your strengths? Music? Drama? Sport? Maths?

rollonthesummer Mon 03-Feb-14 17:50:05

I agree with Evil Twins-this is rather scary. Is this a teaching course, I have never heard of schools direct; is it like Teach First?

Is this the new wave of Outstanding graduates that will become super teachers that will show all us work shy has-beens how it's done?

Best they do their own planning, really. If they're so good.

Schools Direct is the new GTP, about to enter its third year of existence. You spend 4 days a week in the classroom (not in charge of a class, but sort of as a TA at first and then gradually with increased teaching responsibilities) and then 1 day a week in college.

I'm normally pretty clued up, and regularly work with children on both 1:1 and running training sessions (student voice/children's enterprise type things), so I'm not really sure why this is worrying me - but I think that because the school know me well already, I feel under extra pressure to produce something fabulous.

I was just asking on here as it's not really suitable that I ask people who I already know at the school. And as I haven't started teaching yet, asking for a bit of advice about a plan isn't so terrible, I thought...

Hamlet, my strengths are english/art/drama/history, I know the children studied the plague last term and are doing collections this term (that's me outed), so also not sure if I should be going with that or doing something totally different. Other candidates who don't know the school may not know what they're learning about, so not sure if that would be a bit of a bad move?

rollonthesummer Mon 03-Feb-14 18:02:05

Surely you shouldn't be planning and teaching, if you haven't been shown how to plan and teach yet?

SweepTheHalls Mon 03-Feb-14 18:02:50

Stop being so mean you lot! Schools direct is more like SCITT, however year 4 planning I have no idea smile

HamletsSister Mon 03-Feb-14 18:04:14

A drama lesson is always going to look more exciting and dynamic than a sitting at the desk lesson. Perhaps some role play?

I'm assuming that as it's 20 minutes and 10 children they think we can't do too much damage?!

I know that there will be some things I need to def include like having a clear learning objective, making sure there's differentiation etc.
I thought that about drama looking interesting, but wondered if it might be seen as a cop out as I'm not trying to get them to write anything down?!

EvilTwins Mon 03-Feb-14 18:12:35

Don't do drama unless you are a specialist. It's much harder to control. Speaking as a drama teacher.

An ex student of mine, who often babysits for me, has a Teach First interview next week. She's sent me her plan to have a look over. Surely you should have some idea of what you want to do.

I got the email an hour ago that said there was a teaching session - until then I thought it was all interviews (with staff and children) and a presentation, so although I have no doubt I'll come up with something, I was just looking for a few pointers around stuff to aim for/avoid, and whether it should be something that is in line with what the school is already doing.

MothratheMighty Mon 03-Feb-14 18:25:05

Ask on the TES forums too.

BrandNewIggi Mon 03-Feb-14 19:15:04

I don't think what you teach will matter as much as how you do it. So, focus on structure, and rapport/interaction with the pupils. Start with something that relates to them - questioning etc - rather than by saying what you're going to do. Teach them something very short, and then ask them to do something with it - answer a question, or draw a picture, or act it out. You won't have time to get them to do it for the class though (20 mins is a tiny amount of time.) Praise them.
(Obviously your theme needs to something relevant to the curriculum which presumably you can access online).

SaltaKatten Mon 03-Feb-14 23:10:05

Try to show progress (tricky in such a short time, but maybe have a chat with their teacher in advance). Use your starter to show that they can't do something, teach it, practise, then show in your plenary that they can now do it.

Thank you all. Y4 is the only age group we're not observing on the first day, so I think we have to go in 'blind' as it were...

I was thinking (now that I've had time to think!) of maybe doing something around contrasting adjectives, and looking at a couple of really old tomes vs some new picture books, getting the children to describe them and then write a paragraph as if they're one of the books... tenuous link to their term's theme (collections) and get's the key skills in as it's English... could I do this without being massively naff? I was thinking then that differentiation could include the length of what they write/the words they use, having some "aim high" words up etc...

Phineyj Tue 04-Feb-14 20:14:52

If your literacy is strong, do something that showcases that, as it's an Ofsted priority.

I think people are being a bit odd here - why would you know exactly what to plan and teach when you are not yet on a training course? I was given a specific topic for my demo lesson.

Littlefish Tue 04-Feb-14 20:18:31

I'm sorry, but I don't think your idea of "old tomes -vs- new books" will grab the children, plus writing as though they are one of the books is a bit strange if I'm honest.

rollonthesummer Tue 04-Feb-14 20:26:58

I think you will lose them completely with that idea, sorry.

SaltaKatten Tue 04-Feb-14 21:39:19

Try to find something more exciting to describe, your higher attainers could do the contrasting description, core, write a description of one of the objects
Be careful to not just differentiate in terms of outcome.

alongwayfromharrogate Tue 04-Feb-14 21:43:50

It's a bit depressing to read some not-very-supportive replies here. Nothing to be gained by being unpleasant.

School Direct is the scheme that has replaced GTP. They are now recruiting for the 3rd annual intake. If she had said she had an interview for PGCE would people have been so sneery?

OP - I teach Year 4 and I agree you will lose them with the idea you suggest, sorry.

Keep it tight and simple. Base it around a short text that you can share with them. Alternatively, give them some sort of visual or auditory stimulus (check out this site for free sound effects) and do some sort of shared descriptive writing - then ask them to attempt their own descriptive sentences on whiteboards. For more able children, ask them to think about varied ways to open their sentences as well as the adjectives.

Above all, they're looking for aptitude, imagination, rapport with children, plus some evidence that you've researched something about what the Y4 objectives would be.

Good luck!

rollonthesummer Tue 04-Feb-14 22:20:47

Sorry, it wasn't really the OP's fault. I'm just fed up of hearing that teaching is going to be sorted out by superb hot shot 'high quality graduates'. When these same high quality graduates come asking for ideas for teaching a 20 minute lesson from us old has-beens who need shaking up, I feel somewhat gloomy.

Apologies, OP. Good luck with the career...

Hulababy Tue 04-Feb-14 22:28:50

I'd try and get them doing stuff rather than writing stuff in such a short timescale.

Do you have some lesson plan templates that you could use?
Does the school use any specific planning tools at all, such as TASC wheels, etc you could implement?

Thank you all for your replies.

Just to confirm - I have huge respect for the teaching profession, and am entirely entering this to learn. (and teach, obviously, but the children...). the School Direct (s) route you have to have been in an actual job for at least 3 years to apply, so it's definitely not aimed at new graduates. I really appreciate the time you have taken to reply to me, as planning a lesson is something I've never done before!

Lesson plans - I know the school scrapped weekly plans as they found them an unnecessary strain on staff, and instead do daily short plans and a (half)term overview. The more experienced staff are encouraged to plan however suits them best, but I'm not sure on the templates recommended for trainees/NQT's - I will try and find out though!

Comments taken on board about the 'writing as a book' being weird - I did it before with the story museum, where you wrote a story/poem about being a random 'found' object, but I guess it is rather random!

Comments also taken on board about the books etc not being the most engaging. Perhaps if I looked at some interesting objects instead, and will also check out the sound thing (thank you!) although we're teaching in a hall with 3 other mini lessons going on at the same time, so will need to make sure it's easy to hear!

Dwinhofficoffi Wed 05-Feb-14 17:34:00

An interesting object sounds better than first idea but how would you introduce it?
Will it keep the children engaged?
I don't fully understand your lesson idea sorry.
I am an LSA in a school (currently doing my degree).

Dwinhofficoffi Wed 05-Feb-14 17:37:39

As in I fount it hard to follow.

rollonthesummer Wed 05-Feb-14 17:39:50

The huge thing in teaching at the moment is...what are they learning. You need to decide exactly what skill you want them to learn; this is your LO. Use this to decide the activity.

Thank you all for your help/suggestions - I have managed to put a plan together (with focused LO etc) and asked a teacher in RL to check it over for me - fingers crossed all will go well next week!

Showy Fri 07-Feb-14 16:33:04

Best of luck to you Reveal. I'm going through exactly the same process atm (SDS application) and I know how you feel. Most of my experience in schools has been with KS2 and the lessons I had to plan as part of the interview process were for reception and Y1. Why on earth should I know how to pitch a lesson for a year group I don't work with? I know enough to start but actually, what will make me a good teacher is doing my research first. Well done for asking. How else do you learn?

I think a lot of people don't really know what SDS is. It's just the new GTP really but with some key differences. It's a route into teaching which actually allows teaching to attract a group of people who can't do the pgce route or aren't suited to it. I could no more afford a pgce than I could find the childcare to allow me to attend it. It's a good option for people who have financial constraints, have worked for years, are moving careers or are moving from working in schools but not in the teacher role. I attended a task day this week and the group I was placed with contained three TAs, a woman working in a residential special school and an early years specialist. They were all passionate and knowledgeable about schools and clearly all wanted to be good teachers.

I haven't seen a single bit of marketing that suggests we're coming in to teach the ailing profession how it's done. More like we're placed in a school with people who have been doing this for years to learn from them from day one. All of the trainers I've met are ex-primary teachers too and talk a lot about their own experiences.

The very best of luck to you.

RightInTheKisser Fri 07-Feb-14 17:17:04

Personally I have always done the The Magic Box poem by Kit Wright for observations. Make a magic box filled with glitter and sparkles. Read the poem, discuss the adjectives think of a couple of amazing sentences together as a class using lots of description.

I can use interesting adjectives to describe what I would put in the Magic Box.

Get the children to write a sentence on a slip of paper. Bung them in the box at the end. Bobs your uncle.

Thank you for your help and support... I got offered a place! excited about next year and the challenge that will come with it.

Good luck to you Showy, hope you get offered the place you want!

Umlauf Thu 13-Feb-14 11:50:34

Congratulations reveal ! I hope to apply in about 4 years time when u move to the uk (currently teaching TEFL overseas). Best of luck to you!

Hulababy Thu 13-Feb-14 19:51:50


Lizzylou Fri 14-Feb-14 13:46:03

Oh Reveal, well done!
I have been lurking because I have had a School Direct and a SCITT interview in the last week. I am going to be doing Secondary History via a local SCITT grin
This was my preferred option, I was fortunate to get the choice in the end after thinking I'd fluffed both. Quite possibly the most harrowing interviews I have ever had!
Showy, hope alls gone well for you smile

Congratulations gringrin

Have also been watching the thread because I've a SD Primary interview coming up soon shock

Let us know how you got on Showy. I know you'll have been amazing!

Thankyou all! Pretty damn pleased! And congrats Lizzie, it's a scary interview process isn't it!

Best of luck to you Tilly, do you have to teach in yours too?

Thank you. I don't have to teach in mine. I have to do a 20 minute presentation, an interview and a written task. I'm petrified tbh confused

Lizzylou Sun 16-Feb-14 11:29:46

Tilly you will Rock, promise smile
Good luck!

Had mine this morning and have been offered a place gringrin I'm ever so slightly excited shocksmile

Awesome, well done Tilly!! That's great! smile congratulations! Have you done the skills tests yet?

Showy Wed 26-Feb-14 12:33:15

Oh good lord Tils, you're a superstar. You and Lizzy are both brilliant people and exactly the sort of folk who should be moving into teaching. You'll both be brilliant. Congrats the pair of you. I'm moving to live with you however Tils. Here you have to do a task day which is a mental arithmetic test, lesson planning exercise, a presentation, observed group work, two essays and a priority exercise. That's just the task day. You also have the skills tests and an interview day where you have to teach two classes (one literacy, one numeracy), give a presentation to a board and have a formal interview.

I haven't had my interview day yet. I had to reschedule as dd brought home norovirus and I was vomiting on the day I was supposed to go. I'm going tomorrow instead!

Thanks both smile I've booked the skills test for the end of May. I need to do some serious swotting up for the numeracy paper. My mental arithmetic, in particular, is shocking! confused

SOH - that sounds very intense. I'm sure you'll be amazing though grin Is it because you're applying for a salaried SD place?

Best of luck for tomorrow. Let us know how you get on!

Showy Wed 26-Feb-14 20:59:29

Yup school direct salaried. Competition is fierce this year. 400 applicants for the county.

Don't worry about the numeracy. Get the Mark Patmore Passing The Numeracy Skills Test book, do the online practice papers and you'll ace it.

Do you think the fact that I don't even like children will count against me? grin

I'm sure you'll be fantastic. Is tomorrow the last day or the "ordeal"?

Ha! A few of my fb friends have commented about my moaning (and swearing!) about my own dc's and have questioned whether I have the patience to deal with 30 of the little blighters! shock They may have a point wink

I have the book with all the practice questions, Tilly , if you PM me your address I'd be happy to post it to you! I also downloaded a kids app to practice my times tables, got me back into teh swing of things!

Showy Thu 27-Feb-14 19:32:46

Reveal, has it sunk in yet? Do you know what year you'll be with? Do you have it in mind the age you'd like to teach? What about you Tils?

Interview day today was the last thing apart from the skills tests which I have next week. They offered me a place on the spot. grin I've requested younger KS2 in a small village school. They try to accommodate as much as possible.

Wooooo hooooo gringrin I was never in any doubt, Showy. Well done, lovely smile So chuffed for you.

I'm not sure what age I want to teach yet. My (limited) experience has been in EYFS and KS1, but I also like the idea of KS2. I suppose more will become clear as I do my placements.

Oh - Reveal - thank you so much for the kind offer. I will PM you when I'm on my laptop tomorrow smile

Congratulations showy, that's great! A village school should be nice to train in too. Mines on one of the most disadvantaged estates in my area, so I know the behaviour part is going to be a big challenge!

I do a lot of random jobs in the school I will be teaching in, so it's nice to walk around knowing I'll definitely be there next year - although a little scary too! Just trying to watch and learn as much as possible before I start. This will be my 6th year out of uni but the first time I head towards an actual career, and that coupled with getting married this summer is starting to feel rather grown up... Guess it had to happen sooner or later smile

I really want upper ks2, ideally y5 first (so I don't ruin sats results whilst training) and then y6 at some point. Much respect for anyone doing eyfs, not sure I would have the patience! What type of school is yours Tilly?

Mine is a large primary - 3 form intake - but in quite an affluent area and with a strong ethos of family care. It's not the one I've had experience in (that's been our small village infant school which dd attends).

Showy Fri 28-Feb-14 17:48:15

I am hoping to get the local village school with a current whole school count of a whopping 38 children grin Otherwise, most of the schools have only 3 classes in the whole primary school and no more than 20 in each class. One local school on the scheme has one class per year but that's as big as it gets and I probably won't be placed there.

I couldn't do eyfs. Year 2 is my downwards limit. I like Year 4 ideally, possibly Y3. Might change though. I'm keeping an open mind.

Tils, can I ask if you're worried about work life balance? M will be fine, she's v self sufficient and will cope but I worry about ds and ruining him. The class I work with atm is led by a schools direct (salaried) graduate and she's brilliant but very honest about the fact that she has NO life.

Wow! Tiny schools smile mine has over 600 pupils shock

Yes. I am concerned. Conversely, it's T I'm more worried about. She's a sensitive soul and doesn't respond well to change and of course, she's been used to me being there all the time. She won't even stay with grandparents for more than an hour or so hmm F is much more independent and will be fine in wraparound. I'll be gutted to miss his first day at school and first assemblies/concerts etc. though hmm It's all a bit concerning because of other stuff going on at home as well confused It will most definitely be a time of massive change for all of us. I've just had to think that it's going to be 9 months of utter hell, followed by numerous years of moderate hell wink

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