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: How do you define success?

A: My definition of success is student-centered. I want each student to succeed to the best of his or her abilities. My challenge is to identify student strengths and weaknesses and provide an individualized curriculum that will ensure maximum growth and development—not just in academics but in life as well.

This is a great opportunity to state (or restate) your goals and objectives. Don't make this a long response; a succinct and specific answer will garner more points than one that lays out an extended educational manifesto.

: What aspect of your teaching style would you like to change?

A: Like many teachers, I guess I have a tendency to ask far too many low-level questions. I've learned that students become more involved in a topic when they are asked more high-level questions. Analysis, synthesis, and evaluation questions provide additional thinking and problem-solving opportunities for students. I'm working hard to make sure I include more of those kinds of questions in each and every discussion I have with students.

Never try to come across as the "perfect teacher." You are just beginning in this profession, and the interviewer knows it. He or she knows that you have some "rough edges," and he or she wants to know if you are aware of that. Take the time before the interview to list some of your minor issues or concerns and (specifically) what you are doing to alter or change them. Show that you are always improving; that you are always trying to be a little bit better than you are.

: Do you believe you're qualified for this position?

A: Absolutely! I had terrific experiences in all my college methods courses. I was exposed to several different philosophies of teaching from some very exciting and engaging professors. I actively participated in the student education association and effectively coordinated the annual teaching conference on campus. I especially appreciated all the learning opportunities I had as a student teacher. My college supervisor continually challenged me to be a better teacher, and my cooperating teacher was an absolute inspiration. I sometimes can't believe the incredible growth I've made as a teacher, and I want to continue that process here at Parkwood Middle School.

You may not be asked this question directly, but it's one that needs to be answered nevertheless. Be sure to exude confidence and poise in your response—the interviewer wants to know if you are sincere or are just trying to pull the wool over his or her eyes. Be sure to cite some specific examples of your qualifications that can be recorded on the interviewer's sheet of notes from the interview.

INSIDER TIP

Two of the biggest mistakes candidates make in an interview are to talk too much or talk too little. That's why it's important to practice your responses.. .a lot!

: What motivates you as a teacher?

A: I've had several inspirational teachers in my own schooling.. .all the way from Mr. Simpson in elementary school to Mrs. Madison in high school and Dr. Frobish at Big State University. I want to be that force in the lives of students—presenting myself as a model of learning, as someone who teaches by example and inspires through purposeful instruction.

Examples and specific details work well here. Don't talk in generalities, but rather offer two or three concrete examples of your own motivation. Don't cite theories from textbooks; instead, share personal beliefs and personal examples.

: What is the greatest asset you will bring to the teaching profession?

A: From a very early age, I've always considered myself a passionate learner.

Whether it was learning how to ride a bicycle, learning a foreign language, or learning about a new piece of technology, I've always been excited about learning. I enjoy the challenge of learning new material and ideas, and perspectives on old concepts. I believe I can bring that excitement and passion into my classroom. I believe I can model the joy, the thrill, and the enthusiasm I have for learning with my students.. .not just every so often, but every single day. If my students see my excitement for learning, they will also be excited about it.

This question is one of self-awareness. Be sure you are able to diagnose your personal thoughts and identify the attributes that will make you an outstanding teacher. Focus on one or two strengths and how those strengths relate directly to teaching. Your ability on your skateboard may be one of your skills, but it isn't related to teaching.. .and should not be part of your response.

 
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