Monday, December 19, 2016

The Ideal Teacher!

I'm frequently asked, "What are the three or four questions most often asked during a teacher interview?"  That's always a difficult question to answer simply because there are so many possible questions to ask.  The Ace Your Teacher Interview book is an assembly of 149 of the questions most often posed to teacher candidates.  However, the following question is one that ranks high as a "favorite" of many principals and school administrators.  EVERY candidate should be ready for this:

     How would you describe the ideal teacher?

     A:   The ideal teacher is someone who embraces and practices several standards of good teaching.  While there are many standards, I believe that three are critical and necessary for good teaching to take place.  These include 1) The ideal teacher understands how children learn and can develop learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, and personal development.  2) The ideal teacher uses an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self motivation.  And, 3) The ideal teacher understands and uses formal and informal assessment strategies that ensure the continuous intellectual development of all learners.  While these are certainly not the only standards good teachers should practice, I believe them to be three of the most important.
This is a question you’re likely to be asked near the beginning of the interview.  Then, the interviewer will try to determine (throughout the remainder of the interview) if, indeed, you are the candidate who best exemplifies these ideals.  It’s equally important that you know what good teachers do (and how you would embrace that philosophy) in response to those concepts.

Monday, December 12, 2016

How Will You Compliment This School?

One of the essential “ingredients” in every new employee is the ability to work well with others and the ability to be part of a highly functioning team.  The interviewer wants to know how you will become part of the “education team” and that your personality will complement the staff already in place.  Here's a question you are sure to be asked:

     How will you compliment this school?

     A:   I particularly enjoy an environment in which there is a great deal of camaraderie and support.  My two previous visits to Deer Valley High School revealed that teachers here are quite supportive of each other.  There are book discussion groups, teacher-led in-service meetings, and several social events throughout the year.  There is a spirit of cooperation and collegial support throughout the school – a spirit I can embrace and prosper in.
This is an opportunity to assure the interviewer that you are a true “team player.”  You’ll also note that this is a good question to determine whether you have done your homework on the school prior to your interview.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

What Are Your Expectations?

One of the constant themes of most teacher interviews revolves around your reasons for getting into the education profession.  One of the most commonly asked interview questions is, "Why do you want to teach?"  Your ability to respond to that query is often the deciding factor in whether you are offered a job.  Here's another similar question:

     What three expectations do you hold for yourself?

     A:   When I’m teaching children I always want to be fair and consistent.  I know that fairness isn’t about treating everyone the same, it’s giving everyone what they need.  I also want to be flexible.  I know that no two teaching days are the same and I need to be able to bend, adjust, and modify at the proverbial drop of a hat.  If I can’t change when something comes up unexpectedly then I may be cheating my students out of some wonderful learning opportunities.  But, above all, I expect myself to be a good role model for children.  I want to display all the joy and excitement I have about education and let my students be part of that enthusiasm.  I’ve always believed that good teachers are good models and I never want to forget that in any classroom or any academic activity.
This is the flip side of ‘Why do you want to teach?”  Can you provide the interviewer with three concrete reasons why you entered this profession?  Can you convincingly explain, in a few short sentences, your motivation for teaching?
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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Your Most Creative Lesson

Most interviewers want to know what your strengths are.  Where do you shine?  What skills would you bring to the school?  What are some positive aspects of your teacher training program?  The following question is designed to showcase your talents - an opportunity to underscore your philosophy...and how you put it into action.

     What’s the most creative or innovative lesson you taught?

     A:   During the fifth week of student teaching I contacted a family friend at Prospect Hill Cemetery.  He provided my fifth grade class with a tour of the Cemetery.  When we got back to the classroom we divided the class into several teams.  One team worked on a PowerPoint presentation, another team created a timeline of important events in the life of the cemetery from the Revolutionary War to the present, another team looked into burial customs from around the world, another team of students developed an annotated bibliography of books about death and dying, and the final team gathered oral histories from some of the docents and volunteers at the Cemetery.  What was originally conceived as a three-week project eventually turned into a two month multi-disciplinary project that combined social studies, art, music, language arts, and reading into a most exciting thematic unit.
This is a grand opportunity to provide a specific and concrete example of how you went “above and beyond” the usual lesson planning for student teaching.  Be sure to provide specific details and any reactions you obtained from supervisors or administrators.  Show, as much as possible, how you are willing to pursue projects that are somewhat out of the ordinary – projects that engage students in creative or innovative ways.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Second Career Choice?

It is not unusual to be asked a "zinger" - a particularly challenging question designed to determine the strength of your philosophy or the intensity of your commitment to teaching.  Here's an example that frequently pops up in many interviews:

     What was your second career choice?

     A:   I’ve never considered anything else but teaching.  I’ve been influenced by many teachers in my life – from elementary school all the way through college.  I know how one teacher can change the life of one student.  Perhaps I was that student – an average individual who was pushed to excel by Mrs. McDonald in sixth grade, challenged to go above and beyond by Mr. Donahoe in tenth grade, and inspired to create a “hands-on, minds-on” curriculum by Dr. Oliver in college.  Teachers have had a profound influence in my life and I would like to make the same kind of difference in the lives of my students.  I can’t think of any other profession, or any other occupation, that would give me the opportunity to change lives – in such a positive way – as teaching.  For me, there is no second career.  I want to teach!
Don’t even think about suggesting an alternate career path.  This is when you must convince the interviewer – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that your life’s mission is teaching.  Demonstrate your singular passion for the field and let it be clear that teaching is in your blood, is an integral part of who you are, and is the singular pursuit of your life.  This is not the time to be wishy-washy – this is the time to be clear, passionate, and compelling about your career choice.