Should I Ask For Teaching Support At An Interview?

I got into an interesting discussion recently about this topic: it’s common knowledge that new teachers – even those with TEFL certificates – need support in the form of observations, helpful advice, ideas – often just someone whose job it is to answer their questions. I mention this as one of the topics to ask about in Questions To Ask At An Interview.

The counter view is, “Yes, teachers need support, but it’s better not to ask about it at an interview – there you want to put your best foot forward and asking for support makes you appear less than confident. Ask about it later, when you are signing the contract or have been offered the job.”

In many cases in practice in TEFL, this may be true – schools prefer to hire people who will work independently and never ask for help – perhaps because the school can’t or doesn’t want to provide it by employing a qualified director of studies. In many cases in the non-TEFL job world, the advice to “sell yourself” at the interview is also probably spot on.

I still think there’s an argument for discussing support at the interview.

The number of jobs available depends on many factors of course, but there are generally enough jobs that you can afford to miss out on the ones where no support is provided if you do in fact want to ensure you’ll get the support you need as a new teacher. Teaching support is not just “Help, I don’t know what present perfect is!” but “How can I teach it in a fun and engaging and yet still methodologically sound way so that students enjoy the lesson but also improve their ability to use this tense in their speech?” Someone asking the first questions may just not know what they are doing. Someone asking the second wants to do their job well.

A person who does a one month course and then assumes they know all there is to know about teaching may well come across arrogant or perhaps otherwise difficult to work with. If students have had other experienced teachers, a new teacher will not be able to fool them into thinking s/he knows more about teaching than s/he really does. Being concerned about support – or perhaps better phrased as “career development opportunities” – would imply to me the person is interested in the job and realizes there is more to teaching than you can cover in an intensive course.

In a school that cares about providing support, I think asking about it creates a good impression. Of course I’m not totally shut off to the possibility that there are other viewpoints so if you’ve got one, let me know here!