The daunting bit, you found a school you know yourself and now to put yourself across on paper to be considered. This whole process is a scary proposition as in applying for any role we make ourselves vulnerable.
If you haven’t read my two previous blogs on you and the school please do have a look at those here and here.
Vision boarding is the first part of a method that I put together a decade ago to align my actions with my thoughts and beliefs strategically. We started this process In the ‘you’ section of these blogs. Get yourself a piece of paper and a pen. In the corners of a triangle, write ‘my vision’ ‘the school’s vision’ and finally ‘our joint vision’.
Let’s start with the school, look again at the OFSTED report, the school’s dashboard, school website, Facebook, Twitter and Mumsnet. To find out the way the school operates, what is the school’s day today? You must build an idea not only in your head but on this sheet of paper. The next task here is to write the culture of the school in the language used in your research.
For example, in applying for a head of year role when talking about behaviour systems if the website talks primarily around social justice and restorative practices use that in the vision boarding process do not be tempted to bastardise these into your lexicon.
Now move onto the ‘you’ section off the triangle. First, read the job description and write down your vision for the role, do not consider any obstacles here, this is magic wand time; If you had all of the resources and all of the time what would the position look?
In the centre of the triangle now write down every single leadership and teaching experience that you are proud of, this is not the time to be humble, write down everything supporting colleagues in the next classroom, pupils across the school, everything.
Now, we are nearly at the stage where we start writing. The trick is to merge the visions, examples and language while putting your best self forward. Before you do there is another task structure your examples in the form of the STAR method (keep these somewhere they’ll be used in both application and interview stages).
Situation: Describe the task that you needed to accomplish. Think specifics this not a generalised description of what was done. Details here are crucial and remember the person reading your application usually doesnt know you.
Task: What were the aims?
Action: What did you do? Describe your efforts, keep this centred on you. Here write in the first person or write in the third person and adapt back from we to I.
Result: The time for humble pie is over; what was the outcome? What part did you play in it? What were all the positives? Was there any personal reflection and learning involved?
Time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. I always start with a paragraph dedicated to core purpose, if you are struggling, ask yourself why you are teaching. Then ask again until you get down to the root of your reasons for your chosen career.
“I fundamentally believe that all pupil should be afforded the same life opportunities regardless of…”
Now for the rest of the application.
- Your statement is about including the best things; it is not a chronological plot of your career, remember your letter comes with your job history. Why duplicate what is already there? The trick is in the choosing of what to include more is not necessarily better.
- Use the examples from the above task to show off your skills related to the job description.
- Use a formal setting, salutations and keep the tone professionally engaging.
- Avoid abbreviations, yes you may know what LAC, CLA, HAP, HPA, NSR, etc. are but does the reader?
- As you rise the ranks, where you have to cut, remove your practice in the classroom. It is already assumed that you are an excellent practitioner at senior levels. Don’t include bumph is serve no one.
- Proofread, proofread and then proofread the letter again. I personal believe grammar and the quality of English shouldn’t be a consideration in an application, but it is. I once had feedback that I had a single typo in my letter.