Saturday, July 30, 2011

What are the three courses you took that shaped the teacher you will be?

Q:  What are the three courses you took that shaped the teacher you will be?
A:   I took “Teaching Elementary Science” from Professor Sunday.  She got me excited about an inquiry-based approach to science education – an approach that stimulates student questions and offers opportunities for students to pursue answers to their own self-initiated questions.  In “Teaching Elementary Social Studies,” Dr. Hansen taught me about the value of “hands-on, minds-on” teaching – that is, not only providing children with necessary information, but giving them an opportunity to do something with that information.  I also took “Topics in Children’s Literature” from Dr. Smithton who showed me the value of a literature-rich curriculum.  I discovered some incredible books that I can use in all subject areas, not just reading.  These three courses, and these three individuals, showed me that teaching can be exciting, dynamic, and practical for each and every student in a classroom.  They are lessons I will never forget.

            Celebrate not only the courses that made an impact on your philosophy, but the people who taught those courses, too.  If they are as good as you say they are, it is very likely the interviewer will know who they are (by reputation) and will know how they have influenced other teachers hired by the district.

     Interviewers are most interested in hiring your strengths and achievements.  They especially want what you have done or what you can do – not simply what you believe, or feel, or think.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why do you want to teach?

     Q:  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 short personal story into your response.

     The “small talk” at the beginning of an interview is critical.  It helps establish a conversational tone for the rest of the interview.  Respond to questions with something more than a “yes” or “no.”  Be sure to ask your own questions that will require something more than a “yes” or “no” from the interviewer.