Top tips for returning teachers

A photograph of Helen

Returning teacher

I took over a decade out to focus on my family, after which I decided I would like to return to teaching on a part-time basis.

Here are my top tips for getting through the job application process as a returning teacher:

Be prepared

The interview process will likely include a number of different tasks so it is important to prepare as thoroughly as you can. In one of my interviews, I was asked to prepare a 30 minute lesson on ‘An introduction to an A level topic’ for a year 10 class. I ensured I prepared for this scenario prior to the interview and ran my plan past my return to teaching adviser, who offered advice on how to be as effective as possible. In addition to the lesson plan, it is important to be ready for any interview questions that you may face. There are a whole host of questions that the interview panel may ask, including:

  • Describe a good lesson and say why it is good
  • What has been your worst lesson and why?
  • How can you ensure that all pupils are challenged?
  • How would you ensure good behaviour in a class?

Those are just a selection of the questions you may face in your interview, so it is important you are ready to discuss a wide range of topics.

Be resilient

Don’t necessarily expect to get the first job you apply for and don’t get disheartened if you’re not successful. I didn’t get the first job I applied for when I decided to return to teaching. The feedback I received from my interview panel was that my lesson was too ‘busy’. This feedback was invaluable and all part of the learning process. I addressed these concerns during my second job interview, and that time I was successful.

Try to get some relevant experience.

The four years I had as a science technician were invaluable to my learning and development. It helped to update my knowledge of the curriculum (especially the practicals!), got me back into a school environment and allowed me, at times, to lead demonstrations and assist in the planning and delivery of lessons. Refamiliarising yourself with the school environment by taking up a position such as this offers a great way of getting back into education, and will only enhance your application if you decide to take up teaching again.

Show them who you really are

Preparation is clearly important when submitting an application or preparing for interview. However, it is important to also show your human side as the interview panel will be keen to see what characteristics you possess and how suited you are to teaching. I prepared for my interview, ensuring I allowed my personality to shine through, and was successful in my second interview.

Get help from a professional adviser

The support I’ve received from my return to teaching adviser has been brilliant. The monthly updates have been very helpful as they have advised me of things I need to consider or actions I need to take. When a part time maternity cover job was advertised, my adviser checked my application forms and covering letter. When I got the interview, they happily checked over my lesson plan and resources prior to interview, which was fantastic. I am extremely relieved to discover that my adviser’s support will continue for the first two months of my new post.

Read further guidance if you're returning to teaching

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