Saturday, September 10, 2016

If You Could Change Anything...?

Every once in a while, you'll get a question designed to see how well you can think on your feet.  These questions are often asked to determine your overall attitude - positive or negative - and how that attitude might be revealed in an "off the wall" query.  Be ready for these.

If you could change anything about your teacher preparation program, what would it be?

A:   I wish we would have more field experience hours required in preparation for students teaching. At High Tuition College we were required to complete 150 hours of field experience prior to student teaching.  I’ve always felt that that simply wasn’t enough to prepare us for the demands and challenges of the student teaching experience.  So, on top of that requirement I spent a lot of time over breaks and vacations volunteering at my local elementary school.  I was a guest reader in the school library for the “Readers are Leaders” club, I helped out with the after-school tutoring program, and I coached the junior soccer team.  I wanted to obtain as many experiences with youngsters as possible – even beyond what the college required.  I knew that those experiences would help me be a better teacher in the long run.
Obviously, you don't want to bad-mouth your college or university teacher training program (the interviewer may have graduated from there, too).  Briefly mention one small aspect of the program that may not have met your expectations.  Show how you dealt with that aspect in a positive way, going above and beyond the usual requirements to learn more than was required.  This is a great chance to demonstrate how one of your strengths was used to address a problem or recurring situation.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Classroom Management

Classroom management is one of the most important concerns in schools today.  You should definitely plan on being asked a “management question” at some time during the interview.  Here's a sample:

     What is your philosophy of classroom management?

     A:   I would want to establish a specific set of rules for students to follow.  This set of rules would be designed to create a sense of order and comfort so that teaching and learning can take place.  But, in order for the rules to be effective, I know they need to be built on some very basic principles.  These principles would include 1) Students should have a sense of ownership of the rules – they should be invited to contribute a set of expectations about classroom behavior.  2) Classroom rules should always be framed in positive terms.  Instead of “Don’t hit people,” I would say ‘Respect other people.”  Instead of “No talking when someone else is talking,” I would say, “Take turns talking.”  3) I would make sure all students understand the classroom rules through concrete examples, specific anecdotes, and personal stories.  And, 4) I would make sure my classroom rules were consistent with school rules.  Above all, my classroom management policy would be structured on a set of rules that would be communicated in clearly defined terms and language students understand, provide the specific rationale or reason for a rule, and offer concrete examples of each rule as I would want it practiced.
Your response should be carefully crafted in terms of specificity and purpose.  The more detailed you are in your response the better you will be viewed by the interviewers.  Never talk in generalities when responding to this query.  Be precise!