Sunday, November 19, 2017

What Kind of Principal Would You Like to Work For?

Every once in a while, you get a question seemingly out of the blue.  Here's an example of one of those questions.  Suffice it to say, its not one you would expect.  But, it's an example of those types of questions you need to be ready for.

     What kind of principal would you like to work for?

     A:   From my own observations and conversations with teachers I think that a good relationship with a building principal needs to be based on trust and communication.  I can certainly help in that regard by always keeping my principal informed.  I know that the last thing any administrators needs or wants is a surprise.  If I was inviting a guest speaker into my classroom, setting up a terrarium with a collection of snakes, or assigning a controversial book for my students to read, I would want to inform my principal.  I’ve learned that keeping the principal in the loop, information-wise, is always a good idea.  If I have a problem student or anticipate the storming of the office by an irate parent, I should let my principal know early on.  A well-informed principal can assist me in working through a problem, particularly if she or he has information early in the process.  That information sharing, I believe, is critical in establishing both trust and open lines of communication between me and my principal.

Administrators want to hire people who will not create problems, but will make the principal’s job a little easier.  You will note that a good response to this query is pro-active rather than reactive.  Rather than describe the principal (which may or may not match the person interviewing you), explain what you will do to enhance a positive teacher/principal relationship.  You’ll get more points that way.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

WE'RE BACK! and What Are the Challenges of Inclusion?

We're back from our short hiatus.  And, this time, we're going to pose a question that pops up quite frequently in teacher interviews.  You really need to be well-versed in this topic as it will, not only determine whether you get the job of your dreams, it will also determine how successful you are in that job.

     What are some of the challenges of inclusion?

     A:   Based on my experiences in student teaching as well as those I’ve had during my Field Experience requirements, I believe there are four primary challenges teachers need to be aware of.  These would include 1) The danger of a two-system situation; that is, a clear and distinct separation between general and special education.  2) Another challenge for me is to make sure that there is complete accountability and a process in place to collect data objectively.  3) One of the biggest challenges would be to ensure that my expectations for special education students are not artificially low or, even worse, non-existent.  And, finally 4) I need to ensure, and convey, a philosophy that my general education classroom would be not be disrupted if and when special education students are included.  I know these are not easy challenges to deal with; but, deal with them I must if each and every one of my students is to achieve a measure of academic success.
If the answer above sounds detailed and specific – that is intentional.  If I was a betting person, I could almost guarantee you that you’ll get a question (or two) regarding inclusion – especially if you are an elementary teacher.  Take the time and make the effort to know everything you can about inclusion.  Otherwise, your job search may be longer than you planned.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Taking a Break!

Dear Friends:
     During this slow time in the hiring season, I thought it would be a good idea to give my brain and this blog a little break.  We'll be back on the first weekend in November with more tips, ideas, strategies, and innovative techniques that will help you get that teaching job of your dreams.  In the meantime, if you'd like to pick up one of the books listed on the right side of this post, please do so (They're guaranteed to keep your brain active!).
     I look forward to seeing you again in November.
Dr. Anthony D. Fredericks

Monday, September 18, 2017

Never Give Up!

Here's a question I particularly like.  I've used it many times when interviewing teacher candidates and I know it has been used by lots of principals around the country.  Answer this question correctly and you will truly Ace Your Teacher Interview.

     What are you going to do for that kid who just doesn’t get it?

     A:   Never give up!  I believe every child has the right to an education.  Every child should be provided with educational opportunities that are geared to his or her needs, interests, and abilities.  If there’s one thing that the concept of Differentiated Instruction taught me it’s that through assessments and learning profiles I can provide tiered activities that will offer each child a measure of success.  My challenge is to discover what tier the child should be assigned and the best practice strategies that will offer him or her the greatest opportunities to succeed.  But, most important, I will never give up on any child.

Here’s a great opportunity to show your passion and desire to teach.  Keep your response positive and be sure to inject some current research or best practices into your answer.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Single-Most Important Question You Must Always Answer!

Dear Readers:
     At the request of a former student, I'm going to reproduce part of Chapter 6 in the book Ace Your Teacher Interview (  The focus is on the one question that comes up in every single interview situation - a question so critical, that it can determine whether or not you will get a teaching position...particularly in a very competitive job market.  This question is so important that I would like to invite you to share this post (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) with friends and colleagues - you will definitely be helping them out.

Chapter 6
The Single-Most Important Question
You Must Always Answer!

            It’s the one question that is always in the mind of any interviewer.  It doesn’t matter whether you are interviewing for a job stocking shelves at a local grocery store, interviewing for the CEO position at a major company, or interviewing for a position as the manager of a minor league baseball club – every interviewer has this question on his or her mind when they interview candidates for a position.  And here’s why it is important – the question will never be asked in any interview…but it must always be answered.

            The question is this:

  1. How will this person make my job easier?
            You are being interviewed because the interviewer hopes you can bring value, dedication, and expertise to the job.  Those qualities are what any boss wants to see in his or her employees.  Those qualities help the boss (principal) do his or her job better and ensure that a product (education) gets into the hands of the consumer (students).  That single question will never come up in any teacher interview (or any other kind of interview for that matter), but if you can answer the question – several times during the interview - you will put yourself heads and shoulders above the rest of the competition and ensure a very favorable assessment on the interview.

How will this person make my job easier?

            For most bosses – and for every building principal – their responsibilities are numerous and non-stop.  They must handle a whirlwind of responsibilities, demands, schedules, unexpected events, and last minute chores that strain their patience and their resolve.  It’s like a circus performer who juggles 15 bowling balls while encouraging a dozen lions to jump through flaming hoops AND walking a tightrope a hundred feet in the air.  And, that’s every day.  To say that principals are overworked and overscheduled would be to understate the obvious.
            Each of those principals is looking for ways to maximize their performance and minimize their stress.  If you can demonstrate ways in which you will make the principal’s job a little easier…a little less crazy…a little less stressful, then you will be the one he or she remembers when it comes time to make a final decision on who gets hired and who doesn’t.
     An interview is like a sales pitch.  You are trying to sell a product and the interviewer wants to purchase the best product available.  Only in this case you are not trying to sell “YOU.”  Rather you are trying to sell the benefits of “YOU.”  How will “YOU” benefit the school?

            Here’s an example:

            Josh was interviewing for a third grade position at Shady Lane Elementary School.  A week before the interview he read an article in the local paper about how the school’s reading scores were going down.  During the interview the principal asked him, “What will you be able to bring to this position?”

            Josh responded, “During my student teaching experience I worked with another teacher in setting up an after-school tutoring program for students who were below grade level in reading.  We met with the kids twice a week and offered them one-on-one tutoring services in addition to an outreach program for parents on how they can get actively involved in their children’s reading growth and development.  By the end of the tenth week the kids were showing reading gains of 27 to 39 percent.

            ‘I would like to have the opportunity to initiate a similar venture here – giving kids an extra chance in reading and working closely with their parents to promote reading in a very positive way.  I believe my experience and organizational skills can go a long way in helping the program be successful.”

By reading the article, Josh knew that the school was experiencing some challenges in regards to students’ growth and development in reading.  He also surmised (correctly) that this was a concern of the principal, simply because it had been featured in the local paper.  So, Josh wisely decided to address the principal’s concern and answer the question that was in the back of her mind – but one she never asked:

 How will this person make my job easier?
# # # # #
NOTE:  This is just the first part of Chapter 6.  Please feel free to read the rest of the chapter to discover additional ideas and additional interview examples.