Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Interview With a Teacher

I was recently given great advice on how to prepare for interview questions, when (not if, when) I get that glorious phone call inviting me to come meet with destiny.  The interview coach said we should look at some sample interview questions and practice answering them, either orally or writing them down.  I've long ago learned that the stuff I write sticks with me so much more, so I'm going to take that advice and tell all (3) of you my ideas on education.

Question: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
Answer: There's no one life-altering moment where I sat down and thought, "I'm meant to teach."  There were several factors involved.  Reading The Phantom Tollbooth.  Picking education as a major - for a fall-back - and then realizing that my teaching classes were engaging, interesting, and incredibly convicting.  Taking jobs where I was in charge of planning even the most basic curriculum such as activities for toddlers relating to shape and color, or organizing the daily schedule in ESD.  Observing in classrooms and seeing those "Aha!" moments where something just clicks and the child understands a concept or a lesson.  Student teaching and watching a kid break down because he can't understand why another kid doesn't want to sit with him.  I don't want to be a taskmaster standing at a whiteboard drilling facts into my kids heads - I want to plan fun and creative lessons so that there are more "Aha!" moments.  I want to be an advocate, and someone they can count on.  I want to teach them about reading and math, but also empathy, kindness, compassion.  I want to teach them how to find information on their own, and separate fact from opinion so that they can pursue learning outside the classroom.  I want to teach so that I can make more life-long learners.

Q: Have you ever taken care of someone?  Did you enjoy it?
A: I was named for a character who stepped in to be a surrogate mother to a bunch of children, and I think I've lived up to that. I've been caring for children since I was 10, when I would help out with my younger brother.  I took a ton of babysitting workshops, determined to start my own version of The Babysitter's Club.  My very first job out of high school was at a childcare center, where I was in charge of twelve 4-year-olds.  I've been a daily instructor, a weekend babysitter, a Monday-through-Friday nanny, and even had kids for over a week while their parents went on a trip.  I've had kids as young as 6-weeks-old and as old as 13.  I can't say I've loved every single minute, especially the 13-year-olds given to backtalk or the 2-year-olds who are potty training and have to be taken to the bathroom every hour, but I can't wait for the day when I have a classroom family and eventually a husband and a passel of kids.

Q: Do you consider yourself a risk taker?  (Give an example to back up)
A: I know that with the changing climate of education, more people are looking towards the big risk takers who will shake things up and try new methods.  But we're not just gamblers playing with money, we're dealing with the education and the future of children, and that means that any risk I take has to be calculated.  I'm not the sort of person to jump in head-first.  It took me days to research the kind of vacuum cleaner I wanted to buy.  I have to weigh options, and decide whether I would be taking a risk for the sake of taking a risk, or whether this would actually benefit the kids I'm teaching.  Let's say I went to a professional development seminar or a workshop and was taught a new way to do Guided Reading.  I'd use my judgement and think, "How does this align with what I know about how children learn?  Has this method been tried in a variety of schools with a variety of students to positive results?  Can my students handle trying something new at this stage in the school year, or will it confuse them?"  Then, and only then, would I consider trying it in my class.

More another day

For those interested, the website I'm getting all of these questions from is: Teaching Interview Questions

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