Saturday, July 23, 2016

Teaching Learning Disabled Students

Here’s a question that frequently arises in teacher interviews, for both elementary and secondary positions.  This is a grand opportunity for you to show both a breadth and depth of knowledge about special needs students
What are some strategies you plan on using to teach learning disabled students?
     A:   I am aware that learning disabled students will present me with some unique and distinctive challenges.  Therefore, it is important for me to remember that LD students are not students who are incapacitated or unable to learn; rather, they need differentiated instruction tailored to their distinctive learning abilities.  Some of the strategies I plan to use include, 1) I plan to provide learning disabled students with frequent progress checks.  I want them to know how well they are progressing toward an individual or class goal.  2) I plan to give immediate feedback to my learning disabled students.  They need to see quickly the relationship between what was taught and what was learned.  3) Whenever possible, I need to make my activities concise and short.  Long, drawn-out projects are particularly frustrating for a learning disabled child.  And, 4) I know that learning disabled children need and should get lots of multisensory experiences.  A multisensory approach will help these students learn to the best of their abilities.  I’m confident I can address the specific needs of the learning disabled students in my classroom.
If you are “running neck and neck” with another candidate, your detailed and specific response to this question will always tip the scales in your favor.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Ideal Teacher

Here's a tough question that often trips up a lot of interviewees.  It's one you need to be prepared for; simply because it is asked so often.  It's 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.

     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.
It’s critically important that you know what good teachers do (and how you would embrace that philosophy).  Be sure to do your homework on this query - it is, quite frequently, the centerpiece of many interviews.  Make sure your passion shows through loud and clear on any response.
How's your summer reading?  Here's one resource every prospective teacher should have in his or her beach bag:

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Why Do You Want to Teach?

What is your educational or teaching philosophy?  This is a question that will come up in every single interview.  You must be prepared to answer it with conviction, determination, and sincerity.  The question may take one of several forms, but it will be asked at some point in the discussion.  This is one query you want to practice several times - it has the potential to make all the difference in the world.  Don't wimp out on this one.

     Why do you want to teach?

     A:   I had a professor in college who always used to say, “To learn is to change.”  That saying has always influenced me simply because I can see all the positive changes that have occurred in my life through education.  I want those changes to be part of what I can share with young people.  I want students to see how education can not only keep us current, but can also keep us growing, and changing, throughout our lives.  It’s not the accumulation of knowledge that is important, it is what we do with that knowledge that keeps change happening, and that keeps us growing.  I want to initiate and fan those flames in my students as much as my teachers have done in me.
Provide some evidence that you have given this question serious consideration.   Make sure a sincere and committed desire to teach comes through loud and clear.  Every principal has heard the all-too-common response, “Because I want to make a difference in kids’ lives.”  Try something new, something that refers to a specific reason or incident in your life that propelled you into education.  This would be a very good opportunity to weave a short anecdote or brief personal story into your response.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Your Greatest Weakness

Here is one of the best questions in any interview – for both the interviewers and the respondent.  Always be ready for this one!  This is not the time to rant about all your imperfections or, even worse, the imperfections of others.  Don’t admit to a weakness in teaching a particular subject, or in classroom management, or disciplining students.  Select one or two personality attributes that are more general than specific.  For example, trying to do too much, being a perfectionist, running out of time, not getting to everything on a “To Do” list.  These are “imperfections” we all have and that we all wrestle with.  This is the only time you don’t want to be too specific.  Select an “innocent” weakness and frame it in positive terms.  Above all, keep your response short and sweet.

     What is your greatest weakness?

     A:   People sometimes tell me that I come up with too many creative ideas.  I’m always trying to think “outside the box” when I design lesson plans, units, or extended projects.  I always want to include more activities and more projects in my lessons and sometimes find myself getting impatient when I don’t have enough time to do them all.  I’m still learning how to be more patient with my creativity.
Here's the perfect summer reading assignment!  Everything you need to know about securing the job of your dreams is in this book.  Check it out!



Monday, June 27, 2016

Professional Growth???

Have you given some thought to what you plan to do after you get your degree?  Please don’t make the fatal mistake of assuming that you have all the education you will ever need to be an effective teacher.  If you go into the interview with that attitude I can promise you that you’ll leave the interview with nothing more than a handshake and a pat on the back.  Here's a question that pops up in almost every interview.  Be ready for it.
What are your plans for professional growth?
     A:   I know that good teachers are those who keep learning, who continually add to their knowledge base throughout their teaching career.  I’m equally aware that my education is a continual learning process.  It doesn’t stop just because I’ve graduated and have a teaching certificate.  It means that if I am to provide the best possible education for my students, I need to provide myself with a variety of learning opportunities throughout my career.  To that end, I plan to take several graduate courses with an eye towards getting my Master’s in Reading.  I’m planning on attending several regional and state conferences so that I can begin developing a network of fellow teachers – both experienced and novice.  I’ve recently ordered some new teacher resource books recommended by one of my professors so that I can stay up-to-date on some of the new strategies for reading instruction.  I guess that if I want my students to be good learners, I’m going to have to be a model of good learning myself.
 Hint:  Design your future!  Write it down and plan to insert it somewhere into the conversation.  Trust me, you'll be asked this question and your response will indicate whether you're sufficiently prepared to assume ALL the responsibilities of a professional educator.