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B. Questions About You

: What is your greatest strength as a teacher?

A: I believe I have three primary strengths which I would like to bring to

Prairie Pines Elementary School. First, I am well-versed in all the aspects of reading instruction. I took extra reading courses as an undergraduate and worked closely with my advisor in the college reading clinic. Second, I'm a team player. I enjoy working with people. My work as a student ambassador, a member of the student senate, and as an R.A. in one of the dorms have given me many opportunities to work with people. Third, I enjoy learning. I spend a lot of time reading professional magazines and was able to attend two education conferences in my senior year. I hope to bring my passion for learning to a classroom at Prairie Pines.

This is a great opportunity to "sell" yourself. Even though the question asks for "your greatest strength," you should consider a response that outlines two or three strengths. This gives the interviewer a more complete picture of who you are. Most important: This is the time to be confident, not arrogant. Be honest, but don't pontificate. Provide specific details, but don't spend a lot of time patting yourself on the back.

: What is your philosophy of teaching?

A: I believe teachers act as facilitators of the learning process rather than monitors. When we sincerely invite youngsters to select and direct their own learning experiences (and teach them to do just that), they can achieve a measure of independence and motivation that will carry them beyond the classroom. The way we teach is as important as—if not more important than—what we teach. Indeed, the chief role of a competent educator is to guide students in their own explorations, providing them with the tools they need and the necessary instruction to use those tools and then giving them the chance to discover the joys and excitement of learning as a personal goal rather than a dictated one.

Before any interview, write out your personal philosophy of teaching. If it's not included as part of the job application form, it will certainly be included as part of the interview. Being able to express your personal philosophy at the drop of a hat is critical and will provide you with a solid foundation for a successful interview.

: Describe your teaching style.

A: Several studies have helped us look at the teaching-learning partnership in a new way. Researchers have discovered, for example, that learning is not simply the accumulation of knowledge (which is passive), but rather how we make sense of knowledge. This is constructivism, and my teaching style is constructivist. I know that knowledge is created in the mind of the learner and that I need to help students relate new content to the knowledge they already have. I also need to provide students with opportunities to process and apply that knowledge in meaningful situations, what one of my professors called a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to learning. Some of the ways I practice constructivism in the classroom include linking background knowledge with textual knowledge, asking lots of open-ended questions, assisting children in pursuing answers to their self-initiated queries, engaging students in metacognitive thinking, and promoting self-initiated investigations and discoveries. I believe that the most important lesson I can teach youngsters is that knowledge is never a product; rather, it is a process.

Show that you are up to date on the latest educational practices and designs.

Demonstrate how that knowledge has become part of who you are or what you do in a classroom environment. What do you believe, and why do you believe it?

 
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