Teaching is one of the most important and fulfilling jobs out there. It also requires passion, dedication, and the ability to think quickly on your feet. So whether you are trying to score your first teaching job or you're a veteran teacher, it's important to be well-prepared for your job interview to make a good first impression on the hiring team.
Here are 5 common interview questions and answers for teachers and some tips for how to respond.
1. What Is Your Teaching Philosophy?
This common teaching interview question refers to your fundamental beliefs and values about education. It's like your own personal mission statement. It can be based on educational theories that you have studied in school as well as the beliefs you've developed through your teaching experiences.
If you're not sure what your teaching philosophy is, try to write down a few key statements about what you think makes a good teacher or an effective classroom. You can start with something like, "I believe that my ultimate goal as a teacher is to..." or "I believe that it's my job to create a classroom that..."
Try to avoid using cliches that are widely known or accepted such as "every child can learn". Instead, aim to be as specific as possible. A better way to phrase this philosophy would be: "I believe that it is my job as a teacher to make learning accessible and relevant to all students, regardless of their ability or background". Then, give a concrete example of how you will achieve this in your classroom.
For example, "I plan to engage all of my students by appealing to their different learning styles and interests and adapting my lessons to meet their individual needs. I will do this by giving interest surveys and choices for projects, and creating lessons that are student-driven." In this way, you are showing the hiring team exactly what you stand for and that you have a plan to make it happen.
2. Why Did You Become A Teacher?
This question seems fluffy, but it's very important since it reveals your true intentions and motivations for teaching. Your answer should be personal and demonstrate the passion that you have for helping others, working with children, or teaching a specific topic or subject.
For example, maybe you've wanted to be a teacher since you were a kid. Or perhaps you had a teacher growing up who you looked up to or changed your life. What did you learn from that teacher? What did you admire the most about him or her? You can also use this question as an opportunity to talk about your own strengths and how you plan to inspire your students.
On the flip side, maybe you were a career changer or felt a calling later in life after having your own children, volunteering at a school, or working with young people in a different capacity. In any case, be genuine and don't be afraid to get personal.
3. What Would You Do If…?
Teaching requires you to be able to think on your feet and deal with stressful situations, so another common teaching interview question is a scenario question such as:
- "What would you do if you had a disruptive student?"
- "Tell about a time when you were confronted by an angry parent."
- "Describe a time when had a disagreement with a supervisor."
This is a good opportunity to give examples of how you overcame such challenges. However, if this is your first shot at a teaching job, you can answer it based on similar situations, such as a conflict with a colleague or answer the question hypothetically. In all of these scenarios, you should focus on being positive and working with others to find a solution.
For example, students tend to be disruptive when they are frustrated. Your first step could be to have a private conversation with the student to find out what's going on. Maybe the student doesn't understand the assignment or doesn't know where to start. On the other hand, maybe the student does not see the purpose of the lesson or he or she is bored. It's also possible that the student is upset about something that happened outside of class or at home. In any case, your job is to work with the student and perhaps the family to improve the behavior and him or her be successful in the classroom.
Even if you've never dealt with that specific situation or you don't know the right thing to do, it's important to convey a sense of responsibility and a willingness to cooperate in order to find a solution. If you are a new teacher, it is a good idea to consult teachers who have worked with the student before and have good ideas for how to reach him or her. If you are a veteran teacher, it is important to emphasize that you don't think that you know it all and that you are willing to accept and learn from parent and administrator feedback.
4. How Will You Ensure That ALL Students Learn?
Today's classrooms are diverse. Gone are the days when students with special needs or special populations of students like English Language Learners (ELLs) are taught in self-contained classrooms. Instead, you can expect to have students of many different backgrounds and abilities and you will be expected to make the curriculum accessible to them all.
Explain how you will use different teaching strategies, modify materials and use technology to engage students with different learning styles and modalities. For example, do you do a lot of modeling and thinking aloud? Do you use visuals? Have you ever used a SMARTboard? Have you ever used educational apps? You should also become familiar with students' IEPs and common accommodations that they receive such as extended time, simplified directions or smaller class sizes for testing.
In order to monitor how students are progressing, more and more schools are data-driven. That means that administrators are looking for teachers who know how to collect and use student data to inform, guide and reflect on their teaching. For example, how often do you use assessments? What kinds? Do students set goals and self-evaluate? Do you use data to group students? Do you reteach a concept if less than 50% of the class has mastered it? Be prepared to explain how you will measure student growth and what you will do if students underperform.
5. Describe A Day In Your Classroom.
Managing a classroom is a lot like managing a business. Teachers have to set up a classroom that is organized and has clear expectations, procedures, and routines so that students know what is expected of them. Administrators want to know that you are being proactive by ensuring that students are engaged and know what to do, how and when. This will prevent future disruption and disengagement. For example, how do you set up class rules? How do they know the day's objective? Do you start each class with a warm-up? How do students sign out to leave? How do you check for understanding at the end? Do you give out daily homework?
Besides showing that you are consistent and organized, you should also emphasize how you will make your classroom a safe place where every student feels comfortable enough to take risks and do their best.
BONUS: Do You Have Any Questions?
At the end of the job interview, it's typical for the hiring team to turn the tables and ask you if you have any questions. While you may be tempted to say no, do not pass up the opportunity to ask specific questions about the school or the position. Not only will this help you gauge if it's the right fit, but it also shows them that you are interested.
Every school is different, so it's important to do your homework. Go on the school district and school building websites and research the school's demographics, mission statement, and philosophy of classroom management or student engagement. Then prepare a list of questions that shows that you are ready to become part of their school.
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