Friday, January 28, 2011

Hypothetical and Situational Questions

          It seems reasonable to expect that you will get one or more situational or hypothetical questions during the course of an interview.  It’s important to remember that there are no absolutely perfect answers to these questions – there are differences of opinion, different philosophies, and different strategies used depending on experience and background.  In short, no two people will necessarily give the same answer to these queries.  What is more important is that, quite often, these kinds of questions are asked to gauge three things:
  1. Your problem-solving abilities.  Every day teachers are faced with situations and events for which there are no easy answers and for which they may not have received training.  A student has an epileptic seizure in your classroom, a parent walks into your classroom swearing at you about his child’s report card, a student steals money from your purse – are all events that will test your problem-solving abilities…and your patience.  If you can solve problems quickly in an often stressful interview situation, then it is likely you will be able to solve them in a real-life classroom situation.
  2. Your poise.  Do you get flustered when presented with a new situation?  Can you handle unexpected stress?  Do certain events raise your anxiety level?  Interviewers want to know how composed and how rational you will be in the often hectic and chaotic world of classroom teaching.  Can you maintain a calm, cool, and collected demeanor or will you “fly off the handle” at the slightest disruption to your classroom schedule or curriculum?
  3. Your general views about sound educational practices.  Are you aware of some of the common ways of handling discipline or maintaining classroom order?  Do you know some of the “Best Practices” that differentiate the average teacher from the superior teacher?  Are you comfortable with the principles and practices of child or adolescent psychology and their application in a classroom environment?  While you may not be able to provide a perfect answer to a situational event (if there is such a thing as a perfect answer), you should, at least, be comfortable with current research, practices, and principles regarding human nature and child development to formulate an appropriate response.

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