PGCE, Institute of Education, Interview!

It’s been about 2 weeks since I last wrote on this blog, so I’ve decided to mention (will try and not fume!) about my interview with the Institute of Education for the PGCE course in Secondary History.

Now, as we know, it is pretty competitive to obtain a place in this course, and due to this, I was not expecting such a favourable outcome.

Just to clear some things….

1. I am not extremely pessimistic. I just believed that it was best not to become too hopeful. Optimistic, yes, but not too hopeful.

2. The usual – everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that.

3. I did enjoy teaching History, BUT I also do thoroughly enjoy carrying out intensive research on various topics!

4. I did enjoy teaching History, BUT I also LOVE politics!!

5. I did enjoy teaching History, BUT I also enjoy writing on various topics.

6. Finally, I did enjoy teaching History, BUT I do prefer dealing with individuals from all levels, not just children.

I want to delve a little more into the last four points before I continue on with the interview. Just one paragraph!

So the last four points…you can tell that they all link in with each other. It’s not just about the topic (History and Politics), but the skills that I obtained and the hunger for knowledge that I developed. I don’t just want to teach a topic, I want to teach so that the students can develop the same love for History and Politics that I hold. I mean come on, Politics runs a country and the laws we abide by, whilst History creates us and affects the sort of person we are today – we remove our History, then we remove a part of us!! (Open to discussion of course!).

The thing about teaching is that it enables me to develop knowledge in areas that I did not initially have any knowledge in – such as African History! How many of us know about the Aksumite Civilisation? Then it’s a question of how do you employ that knowledge or do you just pass that knowledge on?

I’m extremely adaptable, that is perhaps one reason why I tend to be optimistic.

With the above in mind, it should give you an idea of why the outcome of the interview did not affect me as greatly as it did to others. That, however, does not mean that I will be looking at the interview in a positive light…

Ok, I know that was not one paragraph. Anyways, moving onto the interview (finally!).

So the day is split in two:

1. Group assessment.

2. If successful, 1-1 interview.

More info can be found here and here, although, just to warn you, things do change over time.

I can only explain the first half…

The room is full of candidates wanting to teach History. Majority have some TA experience or carrying out History lessons. Introduction whilst waiting for the assessors to arrive.

Each candidate talking non-stop about every school they worked at, and what experience they have etc etc etc…”wow that’s amazing!” or “That’s really interesting” or “You’ll definitely get a place!” were the usual reactions.

But…(my thoughts whilst all this was going on) “Why are they telling me all this? I’m not the assessor so why are they trying to impress me? It’s 8:30 AM, yes AM, so ssshh a little please.” Now of course I can’t exactly say that, though I do tend to say that to the young girls that I’ve taught. I can’t help it, besides, it’d be more interesting to talk about a HISTORY topic than that. However, must appear interested.

Moving on….Assessors arrive….

The group is split into two, half go and hand in their photo copies of this that and the other, whilst the other half begin the assessment. Like usual, I was in the first half.

1. Mark a piece of work written by a Year 7 pupil! It’s to do with the Battle of Hastings…he even drew a small picture at the bottom! Apologies, I don’t think its a good idea to state the actual question – it may change next year, though it’s the same as last year!! Scribble all over the essay, and then write out a sort of analysis of the essay to a ‘historian’ on a separate piece of paper. Total of 20 minutes roughly.

2. Presentation. Ah the presentation. That’s the one I was looking forward to! 5 minutes EXACTLY, to explain 3-5 lessons on a historical topic of your choice…one should at least be a lesson outline and the rest should be a brief outline. I simply chose the Enlightenment Era. And why shouldn’t I? I mean I did carry out 4 lessons based on the topic!

3. Now the group discussion – given two extracts written by two historians – compare and discuss the sources. Sources based on the Black Death and whether it changed society. I remember last year, we discussed about each of our presentations, therefore, next year it may probably be different. It’s a group discussion, so naturally you’ll find some dominant characters – there were 3 in my group! Half the things they mentioned did not make sense at all, I mean contradictions throughout.

So I’m thinking “mention something Fatima! You’ve been silent throughout! Say something!” But it’s like how on earth do I get in? I did manage to say something, but not enough! There goes my chance.

The three individuals I mentioned above, speechless! We have roughly 1.5 hours to spend (after handing in our copies etc etc etc) and all I could hear is these three talking NON-STOP. I do just want to add one thing, I have nothing against the other candidates, Institute of Education selected them for the interview process so they must have some potential.

Now both groups sit together waiting for the outcome…out of, I’m not sure how many of us were there, 4 names were mentioned and off they went for the interview. But what I found baffling was simply that, as far as I was aware, they did not have actual real life experience. It’s one thing working at a school, but it’s another thing working in a job that requires skills used in lessons.

I remember a teacher telling me that there aren’t many History teachers from an ethnic minority background. At the time I wasn’t convinced, but when going in for the interview this year, as last year, I could only see myself as the person from a minority background. Interesting.

I also remember being taught by amazing teachers who not only had teaching experience, but entered into the profession later than what we’d expect today. They held experience not just as a teacher, and as such, were able to pass on skills obtained from other profession. And I sincerely believe that this is the key for a successful teacher. Now my background is not just teaching, but communications and research! I’ve been involved in Politics as well as working for a History Network. All this has enabled me to gain knowledge in areas that many did not have in the room. But that’s not important right?!

I would say my biggest problem with the whole process is the fact that the interview was to take place ONLY if you pass the group assessment. Many of those who failed were upset, you could see the disappointment in their faces, but I do believe that they would have had a better chance if the assessors gave them a chance to express themselves, to explain why they wanted to be a teacher, their passion for the subject, their experience etc etc etc. Isn’t that the best way?

I say this because when you’re motivated and passionate about something, it shows in your eyes, your facial expression, your hand movement and behaviour, and of course the tone of your voice. A great teacher is one who is passionate about what they teach and is able to pass on not just knowledge, but also skills. But that opportunity was not given all. Anyone can try and impress an assessor through group activities, but it’s not reliable at all! I do not say this out of spite.

Having a discussion and being observed, how does that allow an assessor judge whether the candidate can deal with pupils?

Now judge how you will, but I hope the above helps a little.

I decided to talk about my interview with IoE not because of the outcome, but to help those prepare.

Typed but not read.


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