It’s good to have a list of questions to ask before you accept that Art Teacher job. When you are interviewing for a job, you are interviewing the school as much as they are interviewing you. How do you know if you should accept the art teaching position? How do you know if the school is right for you?
I would only be interested in working in a school where the senior leadership team supported all staff and the art department. Some schools view the art department as a poor relation whilst others value what the art department is doing for the pupils and school as a whole. It is often the opinion of the Head Teacher that filters down to the senior leadership team and beyond. It can influence your budget, how options are created and can be subtly and sometimes not so subtly communicated to students.
Here are a few questions I would ask at the interview in either formal or informal parts of the process, which I think are very revealing about a schools attitude to its employees and the art department.
The amount of art on a school timetable for different age groups is not the same in each school. I believe this reflects the school’s attitude to art. Is it viewed as an important part of the curriculum or an unimportant add-on?
This is especially important for your exam classes. Are the kids in the school advantaged or disadvantaged by the timetable? Can you teach in a school where they are disadvantaged? You may want to fight for these students or you may not want to work in a school like this.
How many duties or cover/sub lessons you are expected to do reflects how your time is valued. It also impacts greatly on your day and how much time you can dedicate to planning, preparation and assessment. It also reflects how financially strapped the school might be. Lots to consider here.
You know that behaviour in schools varies wildly. Young or old, you will have an internal barometer that tells you what you can handle. The atmosphere on the corridors and what you witness going on in classrooms is very telling. Make sure you have a really good look around. Trust your gut about how the school feels and speak to as many staff as you can.
Ask the school to tell you about their professional development program for staff. A good school will invest in its staff with a professional development program. Is there a budget for it? Is it per person or per department? Are you allowed out of school to attend professional development? If you are a UK art teacher, you’ll want to know if you are allowed out to attend standardisation meetings. Would they be interested in you becoming a moderator and allow you the time to do so? These answers could be very revealing.
For a selection of Professional Development providers, click here.
Lesson observations still happen in schools even though OFSTED is putting less emphasis on these. OFSTED has changed the name from ‘Lesson Observations’ to ‘Lesson Visits’. What sort of lesson observations do the school you are interviewing for do? A full lesson or part lesson? Who does them? How often? The answer to these questions could give you a feel for the school.
A majority of schools don’t ask for lesson plans unless you are an ECT. (Early Careers Teacher) A small number of schools still do, and I feel for those teachers. I think there is a lack of trust if this is being requested. You went into teaching to teach, not to do admin.
I would be influenced by wonderful displays of art on the walls. If you are impressed by what you see, something good must be happening in the school. It is a reflection of good teaching and engaged students. A big plus.
The answers you get to these questions might vary if you ask a senior member of staff or a classroom teacher. Ask the questions to more than one person if you get the chance.
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