A teacher is someone who is held to the highest of expectations whilst molding the minds of our future. This responsibility is a great one and so, naturally, admittance into the teaching profession requires some very specific qualities and abilities. As future teachers, we spend a lot of time trying to anticipate what these qualities and abilities are that catch the attention of interview panels. What are they looking for? Through online research as well as a conversation with someone who has sat on many panels interviewing for teaching positions, I have come up with five things for a future teacher to consider and pay special attention to. Each one has an example of a question or scenario that could be given by the interview panel. These examples were given by a school principal who has participated on many interview panels.
1. Passion for Student Growth
What is your purpose for wanting to be a teacher?
An employer wants to know that you are passionate about the growth of students, not simply that you have "always pictured yourself in front of a classroom". They want to hear about your dreams and plans and how those ideas will lead to positive change in the growth of the students at their school site. Think about what ideas you have, how you want to implement those ideas, and why you were inspired to make such changes.
2. Ability to Collaborate/Communicate
Why is collaboration important? What would be strategies in enhancing collaboration opportunities with teachers?
Part of being an effective teacher is being able to function as part of a team. Think about the ways collaboration with other more or less-seasoned teachers could improve the quality of education at the school. It is not a secret that teachers are extremely busy and that collaboration takes extra time and effort. Think about ways to collaborate effectively and efficiently. Monthly dinners or lunches with staff? An idea board in the staff room perhaps?
How would you keep a communication with parents of students?
New teachers spend a lot of time considering their interaction with students, but they sometimes fail to think about the communication they have with parents. Think about the strategies you could use to keep parents "in the loop" and make sure that their questions and concerns are heard and answered. Letters home are nice, but does that allow communication to flow both ways? Think in-depth about how to create an open, two-way line of communication.
Scenario: What if you just taught a lesson and five students don't seem to understand?
Teachers are expected to move through a lot of material in a relatively short amount of time. From these expectations often stems a rigid schedule. Because students learn at different rates and in different ways, there will be certain concepts which some students will find more challenging than others. Think about how you can give more specialized instruction to certain students while still allowing the rest of the class to improve their own abilities. Maybe you have a period of activity stations which allows students to be self-sufficient while you work with those who require extra help. Brainstorm these types of scenarios before an interview, employers want to see that you have given this some thought.
4. Strong Work Ethic and Compassion
Scenario: How would you respond to a child if they tell you one of their parents was just incarcerated?
Unfortunately, this type of situation is a reality in the lives of many of our students. This child's parent could have committed a seemingly unforgivable crime, but your responsibility is to the student who is living the nightmare of having their parent taken from them. Employers want to see that you have the ability to look beyond your own opinions and beliefs and meet a child's woes with compassionate care. Each student, despite their situation outside of school, deserves to be met with love and understanding.
How do you feel about unfinished tasks?
How often have you had a disorganized teacher who seems to have a thousand unfinished thoughts, plans and projects? This type of attitude results in a chaotic environment that makes it difficult for students to thrive. An employer wants to see if you have the ability to come up with, organize and carry out your plans. The education of children in a very limited time frame requires an ability to carefully plan.
5. Ability to Analyze and Adjust
Scenario: What if you find there is a standard where your students are having difficulty, what do you do?
This is related to flexibility. Here,employers want to see that you have the ability to not just notice that students aren't understanding a standard, but to analyze and decipher where exactly students went wrong. Maybe your students seem to be having a difficult time in long division. You dig deeper and discover that they seem to make mistakes in the dividing process when required to multiply by sevens. Using this information, you prepare a worksheet reminding students of their sevens multiplication facts. A teacher with less analytic skills might have wasted a couple of days re-teaching the entire concept of long division.
I hope that you have found some of this information to be new and useful. I encourage you to spend time talking to others who have either been interviewed or have sat on an interviewing panel. This is the best way to gain insight into what an employer is looking for. Good luck to you!