Q: Tell me about your most challenging discipline problem.
A: That would be Derek! In a word, Derek was unmotivated. He could care less about history and he could care less about life in general. For Derek, everything was boring. In a conversation I had with him I discovered that he loved stock cars and probably knew more about stock cars than most of the people who raced them. One day I brought in a photo of my brother’s stock car and showed it to Derek. His face lit up like a Christmas tree! I arranged for Derek and my brother to meet after school one day and the two of them couldn’t stop talking for hours – stock cars, stock cars, stock cars! From then on I had his attention. He and I worked out a simple behavior plan – he’d do a certain amount of homework or a class assignment and in return he’d earn some points. The ultimate reward was the opportunity to work the pits at one of my brother’s races at Williams Grove
. I never saw a student change so much as Derek. His final project for the course was on the history of stock car racing. It was phenomenal! Nobody had taken the time to find out what Derek was all about…but when we did he was a changed person. Speedway
You can almost “bet the farm” that you’ll get asked one or two discipline-related questions. Count on it! The principal or interviewer wants to know how you handle one of the “constants” in the life of any classroom teacher. Provide a specific example and show how you addressed the issue with specific details. Never talk in generalities on matters of discipline; demonstrate with specific details and specific examples how you dealt with an issue.
Before the interview, identify two or three specific discipline “problems” you encountered during student teaching. Write each of those out on an index cards (don’t use actual names) and detail how you handled each one in a positive way. Make sure that you do not over-emphasize the “negatives” of the situation, but rather the “positives” (what you learned, how the students(s) improved, etc.). Keep those cards with you and review them periodically before any scheduled interview.