Prepare for your VCESS Interview

Recruitment for our January 2023 program is now open! Apply here for our October or Decmber interview rounds: https://forms.office.com/r/8iYX7Be5ns.

Excited for your VCESS interview but not too sure how to approach it? Trying to make sense of VCE as someone from outside Victoria? Generally hyped and keen to learn more about VCESS? This interview module has you covered, featuring breakdowns of VCE and VCESS, and tips for your VCESS interview.

What is VCE?

The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) is the program studied by most high school students (15-18 years old) in Victoria in their final 2-3 years of school.

VCE students complete at least 4 subjects, some of which you’ll be teaching at VCESS! These subjects are split into 4 “Units,” which cover different content in the subject. Students typically study 1 unit of each subject per semester.

Students sit assessments for their subjects throughout the year, and VCE exams at the end of Unit 4. Only assessments in Units 3 and 4 will count towards a student’s final results.

What is VM?

The Vocational Major (VM) in VCE prepares students for work-focused pathways. It includes subjects on literacy, numeracy, work-related and personal development skills. It replaces the previous VCAL program, and includes VET subjects where students learn work and industry skills.

What is VCESS?

The VCE Summer School (VCESS) is a two-week tutoring program run in January. VCESS aims to give high school students a headstart on their VCE through subject-specific tutoring to build strong foundational knowledge for the year ahead.

VCESS is targeted to students who have experienced educational disadvantage, such as studying at an under-resourced or rural school. We welcome students and tutors from a wide range of backgrounds and work to create a positive and inclusive environment for all.

Educational Disadvantage at VCESS

Making VCESS welcoming and accessible to students from all backgrounds is central to our program goals and ethos. Disadvantage can take many forms, including family responsibilities, social or economic background, health or location limiting access to resources, or having a marginalised identity (including ethnicities, cultures, disabilities, gender identities, and sexualities).

At our most recent program in January 2022:

  • Representatives for disabled and queer identities provided training and advocacy
  • 16% of students were from rural and regional areas
  • 25% of students lived in areas in the lowest socioeconomic status quintile
  • More than 50% of students received full or partial bursaries to attend the program

In the video below, past VCESS Director Caitlin Minney explains how educational disadvantage can affect a student’s education.

Roles on VCESS

Subject tutors (that’s you!) deliver classes in VCE subjects over the program. You can also get involved with activities including one-on-one tutoring, workshops, social activities and tertiary information seminars to support students beyond classes.

Tutors at VCESS can also take on Special Roles, which are additional responsibilities held alongside tutoring. There are many different teams to get involved with.

What’s Right for Me? To better understand the roles at VCESS ahead of your interview, and to start thinking about how your skills, experience and interests might make them the right fit for you, we recommend checking out:

  • The Position Descriptions, which detail the responsibilities and desirable attributes for each Special Role.
  • Our Special Roles Explained video, where recent coordinators of the Special Role teams explain their role on the program.

The Demo Teach

VCESS interviews involve a 60-second teaching demonstration (known as a “demo teach”) on a topic of your choice. We’ve provided some information and ideas below to help you understand what teaching looks like on VCESS and feel confident in putting your demo teach together.

VCESS classes have a few key features:

  • Interactivity: Classes with lots of opportunities for discussion, questions and activities help students engage with and understand the skills they’re learning.

  • Skills over Content: We focus on giving students the key skills (or foundational knowledge where applicable) for their subjects to most confidently approach the year ahead.

With those features of VCESS classes in mind, we have a few tips for planning lessons or teaching segments and making them engaging:

  • Keep it Simple: Time is always limited, so stick to what you can comfortably explain in the segment length. Cramming in too much content will make your explanations rushed and sacrifices your students' understanding. That's not good!
  • Learning Intentions: Try to clearly outline what students should understand or be able to do by the end of the segment (e.g. “students should understand how to structure an essay”). They’re a great way to make your teaching focused and help students check they understood the class.
  • Examples and Analogies: These are great ways to help you explain concepts and make them easier for students to understand.
  • Positive Demeanour: Teaching with high energy and confidence makes teaching more engaging for students, and makes teachers look passionate about their class.
  • Visual Aids: Having a visual like PowerPoint slides is an excellent option to make classes or teaching segments easy to follow. They're not compulsory, so don’t stress if you don’t have one for interviews! 

And here are some examples of skills you might focus on in a teaching segment at VCESS:

  • Stepping through a worked example (e.g. the power rule, naming an organic molecule)
  • Stepping through a VCAA exam question (e.g. going through a multiple choice question, how to approach an extended response section)
  • Explaining a key point of knowledge (e.g. a grammar concept in a LOTE subject, the difference between displacement and distance)
  • Explaining how to do an analysis (e.g. text analysis, artwork analysis)
  • Explaining a practical element of a course (e.g. how to do a dance movement, tips for doing a solo performance)

You can check out examples of demo teaches the Directors have done here, to see how the tips work in practice. Remember to keep it to 60 seconds – cut down if you are still going over!

Interview Tips

We know interviews can be daunting, so here are a few things to help you feel prepared, calm and confident stepping into your interview when it rolls around:

  • Do a quick refresher! Look back over this module, the VCESS website, your application and the Position Descriptions before your interview so you’re across the program and anything specific you’ve applied for.
  • Understand the questions. Focus on what they’re asking you to address, They’re not designed to trip you up, and you don’t need to challenge the circumstances in the question. You’re more than welcome to ask for further clarification if you’re unsure about anything!
  • Tell us what happened. The STAR Method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) of responding to questions about you or your experience is tried and true. We particularly want to hear about the impact of your actions (or what you learnt) as you explain them.
  • What to do with your hands!!! Be attentive and engaged in the interview, dress for your day and don’t be afraid to ask questions at any stage – we love to hear them! <3

If you have any questions ahead of your interview, please reach out to summerschool@union.unimelb.edu.au. All the best with your preparation, and we can’t wait to see you soon!
 

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