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.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Teachers' Biggest Challenge

Be sure you are up to date on the latest educational theories, initiatives, “hot topics,” and issues.  You will, sometime during the interview, be asked about your opinion or your experience in dealing with one of these concerns.  Here's a typical question:

What do you think is the biggest challenge teachers face today?

     A:   Teachers are challenged from all sides – the media, parents, government officials, elected leaders, and communities.  We are in the proverbial spotlight – constantly.  That’s why I think that one of the greatest challenges we face is that of assessment.  That is, are students learning to the best of their potential and are teachers providing their students with the best quality education possible.  Educational initiatives such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” have put educational assessment on the front burner, so to speak, of educational reform.  Are we teaching what we should be teaching and are students achieving as they should be achieving?  During my student teaching experience I was able to fully integrate assessment throughout all my lesson plans – from beginning to end.  For that, I can thank Dr. Cranshaw, who showed me how to effectively integrate assessment throughout any lesson, any unit.  I certainly don’t have all the answers regarding assessment, but I’ve received some excellent training and excellent experiences I can use throughout my career.
 Be sure to demonstrate how you have addressed an element of that issue sometime in your pre-service training.  If you don’t you will be sending a very powerful message to the interviewer that you don’t stay up to date and that you are unaware of what is happening outside the classroom.  This is a mistake you can’t afford to make.
 
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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Why Weren't Your Grades Better?

Let's assume you don't have a 4.0 GPA (I certainly didn't).  You may be worried that your grades will be an impediment to getting a teaching position.  Don't be!  You didn't get to this stage in the hiring process solely because of your GPA.  You got here because of other skills, talents, and qualifications.  As a result, the following question is one often posed during an interview.  How you answer it will reveal a lot about your personality and your educational perspective.
     
Why weren’t your grades better?
A:   I had a great educational experience.  I learned a lot while in college – not only about the art of teaching, but also about myself.  I learned that if you want to succeed you need to devote yourself 100% all the time.  When I first got to college I was overwhelmed by all the requirements, all the responsibilities, and all the activities on and off campus.  I got involved in lots of clubs, lots of organizations, and lots of extra-curricular activities.  As a result, my grades suffered during my first two years.  It was only when I was enrolled in my teacher-preparation courses that I realized that I would need to buckle down and commit myself 100% to my chosen profession.
Whatever you do – don’t make excuses when answering this question.  Always take responsibility for your actions (or inactions).  Don’t try to bluff your way out of this question – the interviewer probably has seen your transcript and knows exactly what your GPA is.  Own up to your mistakes, take responsibility, and show how you have grown as a result.  Never get defensive or place blame.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Why you?

Here is a question frequently asked near the end of an interview.  It is a great way to put a punctuation mark on who you are and what you will bring to a school.  It’s similar to the question, “Why should we hire you?” and provides you with a terrific opportunity to leave the interviewer with a most favorable impression. 

We have a number of applicants interviewing for this position.  Why should we take a closer look at you?

A:   More than just a major in college, teaching for me is a passion.  I’ve worked closely with our local Boy Scout troop, volunteered as a youth leader in my local church, and spent quite a bit of time in the children’s department in the local public library.  With me, you’ll get passion and commitment – but you’ll also get a wide range of experiences in several different settings…experiences that give me a broad base beyond course work and student teaching.
Practice this one and be prepared to offer specific details.  Your response should also answer the most important question in any interviewer's mind ("How will this person make my job easier?").  One other thing - don’t “talk negative” about the other candidates…if you do, you’re toast!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Other Teaching Experiences

In most interviews, the interviewer wants to know if you’ve had varied and diverse opportunities in working with children.  Have you experienced diverse populations of kids and have you been involved in an eclectic array of child-centered activities?
 
What experiences have you had working with students other than student teaching?

A:   For the past three years I have been a volleyball coach at the local YMCA – working with the junior volleyball team.  I have been an after-school tutor at the West End Community Center on Thursday evenings – helping youngsters with various homework assignments.  Each summer I am a volunteer reader at Long Valley Regional Library where I share books and stories with three to five year olds.  I’ve been a camp counselor for four years at the Big Mountain Nature Camp and I’ve helped supervise playground activities during the annual Spring Fling held each year in Centerville.  I guess I’ve always been attracted to kids and take every opportunity I can to work with them, teach them, and be a positive influence in their lives.
Bottom line: The more programs and activities you’ve experienced – beyond student teaching - the better your chances at obtaining a teaching position.
 
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