It's hard to believe that this time last week I was preparing for an interview that would change my life. I'm 50 years old and have never had a full time permanent teaching job. I've had permanent part time posts and full time temporary posts (when I graduated local authorities saved money by giving you temporary contracts from August to June to avoid paying you over the summer holidays!) I never needed to be reliant on my earnings as there was always a higher first income in our household. My salary was 'extra' for treats.
Now that The Teenager is 18 his dad no longer needs to pay maintenance so for the first time in my life I am a financially independent woman! And it feels good :-)
I have given a lot of thought to why I was finally successful at interview. I've been thinking about the feedback my new headteacher gave and all the lovely things my colleagues have said over the past week. It's a combination of a few things but the main thing is I shifted my thinking.
After the 2 failed interview experiences in my current school (plus many failed applications to even get an interview in other schools) I had convinced myself that it must be because I wasn't a good enough teacher. I'd had a 5 year break from teaching before coming to this school, I wasn't up to date with current education speak, I was too old and everyone wanted younger teachers. No one actually told me this I just created this story about myself. After all my current headteacher had observed me teach, she read my paperwork and reports so she must think I'm no good and that's why I didn't get the job. But then I stopped and actually thought about it. She has never given me anything but support and suggestions for how to improve next time. And this is the key phrase!
Part of my own professional development this year was to look at Growth Mindset and incorporate it into my teaching. We are trying to encourage children not to give up when they meet failure. A lot of kids in school are not resilient, mainly because their parents try to avoid situations where their kids might fail. Teachers talk about the Power of Yet. For example "You can't tie your shoelace yet but if you practise..." We talk about how kids can improve their work using 2 stars and a wish. For example "I like that you used adjectives. I liked that your writing was neat. Next time, use your word book to help you write tricky words." Here I was trying to motivate children into developing a growth mindset but wasn't practising myself what what I was teaching.
So in one weekend I sat down and re wrote my story. Literally! I took all the interview prep stuff that the depute head gave me and all the stuff I had accumulated over the last 3 years. I wrote and wrote out examples and experiences that covered the areas he suggested. I created a mnemonic to help me structure my answers. I researched the school, looked at their Improvement Plan and identified areas that matched my skills and interests. I wrote out loads of examples. I was as prepared as I could possibly be. Worst case scenario was that it was good interview experience for the next week's interview in my own school.
In one weekend I collated everything I had been working on personally and professionally for the last 6 months and I re wrote my story. "I am a good teacher and here's the evidence."
In my interview the 5 questions they asked me seemed really easy and straightforward. But the question that stood out for me was "What CPD this year has had the greatest impact on your own learning and how has that impacted on your class?" I was happy dancing in my head!!
When the headteacher later phoned and offered me the job she said it was my answer to that question that really shone out :-)
It's cheesy to say that if you just believe in yourself everything will work out. I've worked hard over the last 3 years to be the best teacher I could be but it wasn't enough. Over the last 6 years I've worked on my own personal growth but that wasn't enough. This year I've been reading and learning more about Buddhism, manifestation, laws of attraction, self belief to name a few things. Everything finally came together and contributed to a shift in my thinking.
I do love the above Oprah quote. Maybe I was too focused on just getting a permanent job. But when I took the focus off just that bit and worked on the other stuff, it's all starting to fall into place.
The mind is a powerful tool indeed.