1.Why did you become a teacher?
This question allows for the candidate to explain their decision to get into teaching. Each answer will be unique to the individual and will give insight into their motivation for choosing the career path that they have. “I decided to become a teacher because of my high school Philosophy teacher Mr. Holtkamp. His students really responded to his teaching style and it completely changed the way that I saw the world. He treated us like mature and intelligent individuals and was able to impart his passion for the subject matter into the curriculum. He provided a framework for the students to lead discussions and critical analysis of abstract philosophical and existential questions that really engaged all of us. He was a fantastic teacher and inspired me to pursue teaching.”
2.Why do you want to work at this school?
This question is designed to see if the candidate has done their homework on the particular school and school district. Before interviewing, it is critical that the applicant prepare to ask and answer questions relating to the reputation, students, scores, etc. of the school or school district. “I would like to work at Santa Margarita because of the excellent reputation it has for academics, athletics, and quality of education. Students are challenged to push themselves and the abundance of AP and IB classes show that the school gives them the opportunity to succeed. It is also well known that the parents are active in their children’s education and I believe that is one of the most critical aspects of a successful education. It is also well known that the teachers here are passionate about what they teach and it shows with performance and test scores.”
3.What kinds of qualities do students look for in teachers?
This question evaluates the candidate’s ability to see themselves from the perspective of the student. Everyone has a different teaching style and students react differently to different styles. “I think that students look for passion and credibility and can easily see when one or both are present or absent. Teachers have different styles, but the passion and drive of a teacher is essential. Teaching is a difficult job, but it is also one of the most important. Students need to know that you are working hard, expect them to do the same, and will grade them fairly while guiding them through the critical thinking process.”
4.What personality traits do teachers need to be successful?
This question evaluates a candidate’s ability to asses the role and determine what is required for success. This will allow the candidate to assess their own requirements as well as those required by the administration. “I think that teachers need to have patience, flexibility, and self-discipline to be successful. Teaching can be difficult and frustrating, but it is extremely rewarding and it takes a certain type of individual to excel. Teachers have to consider state/local testing objectives when creating lesson plans while making sure that students are able to master the subject material beyond what is going to be on a test. Students also have different methods of learning and a teacher must be able to adapt their lessons to ensure that all students are engaged and able to learn the material.”
5.How do you approach discipline and what role does it play in learning?
Teachers routinely deal with discipline issues in the course of their daily activities. It is extremely important for a candidate to explain how they view discipline and what role it plays in the classroom. Discipline is an important part of maintaining an effective learning environment and largely depends on teaching style, age of students, and district policies. “I believe that discipline is an important part of the learning process. I approach it by clearly explaining what is expected and what the limits are in my syllabus as well as my initial class orientation. Discipline is the foundation of respect in the classroom and accountability from the students. In my experience, students do not respond well to forceful discipline. They want a framework where they agree to the rules, are respected as individuals, and are held accountable for their decisions and actions.”
6.How do you interact with parents?
This question is designed to assess how the candidate interacts with parents. Parents are an important part of the learning process and teachers must have the ability to communicate with them in a positive way to help the students be successful. “Parents play a critical role in supporting their child’s education. I feel that it is extremely important to engage them and ensure that a student is set up for success. I provide contact information for parents and encourage them to contact me if they have any questions about their child’s performance or progress. I believe in sending home periodic updates about what they children are learning and what is being accomplished in the classroom. This way, parents are able to ask their children how things are going and discuss the current curriculum and major tests and projects. I approach parental communication in a way that puts us all on the same team with the same goal, which is ensuring the success of the student.”
7.How have state, local, or common core standards affected your lesson planning process?
Standards and standardized testing is an important part of teaching. This question assesses the candidate’s understanding of what is expected of them, how they plan their curriculum, and whether or not they will just “teach the test”. “Standards are clearly an important focal point for the curriculum. I believe that thorough curriculum planning and assessments are the best way to structure the year and ensure that students cover the required material. The way that I approach this is to start with the framework of standards and build my lessons around them. I do not teach only what will be assessed in testing, but I make sure that it is included. Objective performance is an excellent way to gauge students’ understanding of the material and my curriculum map allows me to ensure that the necessary skills are covered and assessed prior to standardized testing.”
8.What do you think of technology in the classroom and how have you integrated it into your lessons?
Technology has become commonplace as a teaching tool in many classrooms. This question assesses how the candidate utilizes available technology to help students learn as well as teaching them basic technological skills. “I believe that technology in the classroom can be a valuable asset that helps students learn. I also think it has the potential to be a distraction and requires the teacher to have an established plan for acceptable use. It is important that students learn how to use technology for education as well as teaching them basic technological literacy and I have incorporated it into my lessons by assigning students tasks that require more advanced use of technology. For example, all of my papers must be in MLA format. I teach the format and the students must learn to adjust margins, spacing, line breaks, citations, and other more advanced features of word processors throughout the year. Not only do they become experts at the formatting, they also learn how to manipulate formatting through repetition and exploration of these features that they would otherwise not have been exposed to. This exposure allows the students to get comfortable with the platform and creates a foundation that helps them use technology both inside and outside of the classroom.”