Recruitment and Selection Considerations When Employing Pre-service Teachers:

Victoria International Schools of Sharjah (VISS)

At Sharjah Education Academy, our goal is to not only prepare the best teachers but also ensure they are ready for successful employment.. We asked Dr. Gregor Cameron, Director of Schools-VISS Group, to share what his school looks for when hiring new teachers.

I have been working in education for almost four decades. Over the last two years, while at VISS, I have conducted over 400 interviews and have had the privilege to hire more than 150 teachers (and leaders) to teach in the K-12 classroom. If you are preparing to become a teacher, I want to share with you some of the most important things you should consider as you prepare for your first interview.

What are the most important qualifications that new teachers need?

  • Pedagogy: The ‘practice of teaching’ is the number one skill we look for in all teachers, whether new to teaching or experienced.
  • In hiring new teachers, we need to see the qualification that reflects the pedagogical component of the post-graduate degree (teacher practicums, length of placement, etc.).
  • For those pursuing teaching at the secondary level, the undergraduate subject is critical.
  • The Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) has minimum qualification requirements, including a degree in education, in order to teach in Sharjah private schools.

What should your CV contain?

Your CV will not contain much as a new teacher. It may be accompanied by a covering letter, but as a new teacher, this is not critical. In your CV, we want to see and read about the following:

  • Your qualifications.
  • Your school placements, including grades/ages of those classes.
  • If you had feedback reports from your practical experiences, and especially if this feedback is positive, you should attach those.
  • Describe how you would contribute to the extra-curricular life of the school (if the opportunity arose). Your talents, skills, experiences that may benefit the students at the school, outside of the expected classroom requirements, may be very beneficial to your CV.
  • Be sure to include your contact details.
  • Add details for two referees. For new teachers, this may be the person/people listed above from practicum it may be a course lecturer, or it could be a character referee. At least one reference should be from someone who has seen you teach.
  • Some people include a ‘philosophy’ statement, a ‘what they believe’ regarding education and learning. This is completely optional and not expected for a teacher new to the profession. Instead of this, you may want to give us a paragraph about who you as a person.

How should I prepare for the interview?

Think of the adage,‘hire for attitude, train for skill’. This saying is very much true when recruiting teachers who are new to the profession. We want teachers with a positive, solutions-focused approach. As a new teacher, you will not necessarily have the deep knowledge and understanding, but that is not critical.

Instead, we want:

  • To hear your passion for education.
  • To hear your passion for learning (your own learning, and engaging students in learning).
  • To know what excites you in terms of your school/class placements during your teaching course. What learnings did you get out of these placements? What strategies did you see in the classes that appeared to be successful, what strategies/activities/approaches engaged the learner, and/or lead to impact on student progress and attainment?
  • To hear about your merging of theory and practice.
    From your lectures, your placements, your readings, etc. where have you seen a connection to what’s happening in the classroom? An example of this may be something like ‘age-appropriate pedagogy’ or ‘inquiry learning’. Have you seen something you’ve read about/learnt about in any of the classes you have visited. What are your reflections, your wonderings on this?

  • To know that you have done some research about the school, about the curriculum, about the type of learner at the school. Be prepared to ask some questions during/at the end of the interview about this…or other topics. The interview is not just about us finding out about you but you finding out about the school. It’s about cultural fit. Are you right for the school, are we right for you?
  • You to present yourself well, whether online or face to face. First impressions are critical. Often the decision to employ is made in the first 5-10 minutes of the interview.
  • We may request that you come along and take part of a lesson and observe you as part of the selection process. For Ministry of Education teachers, this strategy is often used.
  • You to smile, stay relaxed, be prepared, bring notes if it helps, write things down if it helps, be concise, above all be authentic (yourself).

Dr. Gregor Cameron is currently the Director of Schools-VISS Group.  He has worked in the field of Education for over almost four decades across three international settings: Middle East (12 years), New Zealand and Australia. In returning to the UAE in 2019, Gregor first worked as a School Improvement Advisor with Sharjah Private Education Council, before transitioning across to the VISS Group. He completed his doctorate at Curtin University, in Perth Australia and is also involved in supervising thesis students undertaking their masters at Sharjah Education Academy. 

Victoria International Schools in Sharjah (VISS) was founded by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Ruler of Sharjah, in conjunction with the State Government of Victoria in Australia. VISS is a premium not- for profit international group of schools built to provide opportunities for the children of citizens and residents of the UAE to grow and develop into not just well educated, fine young men and women, but just as importantly, thoughtful, future leaders across our world. 

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