: What do you like best about teaching? What do you like least?
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A: For me, teaching is an incredibly rewarding career! It offers unlimited possibilities to influence generations of students, imparting to them the excitement of learning, the passion of discovery, and the magic of an inquisitive mind. I believe that teaching is both a science and an art. It is also a way of making a difference in the lives of others. It is the shaping of minds and the shaping of futures.
What I like least would probably be the fact that I have a limited amount of time to work with my students. I have only 180 school days and seven- and-a-half hours in each of those days to share with them all the wonderful things they can learn. While I can't change the time I have available, I can change students' lives. I can't think of anything more exciting.
Don't select controversial topics for your response. You won't know where the interviewer stands on those topics, and you don't want to upset him or her early in the interview. Select topics that are non-controversial or non-confrontational.
: What skills or abilities do you still need to develop?
A: I'd like to continue working on my DI skills. I know the power of
differentiated instruction and was able to put it into practice during my student teaching experience. But I also know that it's not one of those skills a teacher learns overnight. While I had a great experience with Mrs. Walker, I'd like to talk with other teachers to see what else I can do to refine and solidify my DI skills for use in my own classroom.
If asked this question, don't select something that is obscure or theoretical ("I'd like to be better at teaching the schwa sound."). Select a skill that many teachers wrestle with and indicate that you consider this to be a long-term process—one that will demand both time and effort. Be clear that you are willing to invest that time and effort over the long term.
: What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
A: The three I would select would be "passionate," "inquisitive," and "flexible." "Passionate" because I believe good teachers have a love for children and a passion for the subjects they teach and I certainly have a passion for history. "Inquisitive" because I believe effective teachers continuously ask questions, looking for new explanations and answers. In so doing they serve as positive role models for their students, helping them ask their own questions for exploration. And "flexible" because I'm always willing to modify, bend, and adjust—never letting the little things, or the inevitable interruptions, get me down. This, I believe, gives me and my students incredible opportunities to succeed.
Show that you have the basic attributes of an outstanding teacher. While you may consider yourself to be an outstanding foosball player or the next great "American Idol" candidate, I'm sure you will agree that the interviewer would have a difficult time seeing the relevance of these descriptors to life in the classroom.
One of the classic mistakes many candidates make is that they don't listen to the question. They are so anxious that they often begin answering the question before it's been fully asked. Slow down.. .listen.. .think! Then answer.
: What three things really make you angry?
A: I get angry when a lesson doesn't go as well as it should. I put a lot of time and effort into each lesson, and I hold high expectations, not only for my students but myself as well. I also get angry with myself when my enthusiasm for a science lesson isn't there. I know that classroom teachers need to be good role models for their students, and one of the best ways to demonstrate that is through my own enthusiasm for learning. But, sometimes, with science, it just isn't there, and I know that's not fair for the kids. Science was never one of my favorite subjects in school, and I have to work at making it always exciting for my students. And, finally, I get angry when we run out of time. Sometimes my students and I are really getting into a lesson—they are working hard on some hands-on, minds-on activities in social studies, for example, and we see that it's almost time to get ready for the buses. I sometimes wish I had another hour or two in the school day in order to get everything in.
This is a terrific question, and your response will say a lot about who you are as a person. Don't ever make the mistake of blaming anyone else for your anger. Don't blame kids, colleagues, administrators, former professors, your cat, your parents, or your friends. The key is to take full and complete responsibility for your actions and for your anger. Make sure the things that anger you are school-related and that they are within your control to change.