: Tell me something about yourself that I didn't know from reading your resume.
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A: You may not know that I've been tutoring a young man from Chile who is attempting to learn English so he can get his driver's license. I met Juan Carlos through my work at the YMCA and have been working with him for the past seven months. He's still struggling with basic English, but I've been able to find some good materials through the local literacy center. Fortunately, I can speak a little bit of Spanish, so we are able to communicate. It's been a tough road, but he's making some great progress now and hopes to take his driver's exam very soon.
This is not the time to repeat the obvious. Think about a skill, a talent, or an experience that doesn't quite fit on the resume, but which signals you as someone willing to go the extra mile or do an extra job. What makes you unique or different from all the other candidates applying for this same position?
: How would your college supervisor (or cooperating teacher) describe you?
A: He would probably use two words to describe me—"dynamic" and "persistent." I'm a person who is always on the go, someone who is willing to try new things, new approaches, and new strategies. I guess I'm never satisfied with the status quo. For example, our third-grade students were having difficulty making connections between their background knowledge and the information in a story during their reading lessons. I asked my cooperating teacher if I could use a strategy called "Concept Cards" to help students see how the knowledge we bring to reading is as important as the knowledge we get from reading. It took me about a week to set up this new approach, and it worked beyond our wildest dreams. It was a struggle at first, but I stuck with it and now all the third-grade teachers are using it. It was a great experience for the students and a great opportunity for me to apply some book knowledge in a practical way.
Pick something positive that your supervisor or cooperating teacher would say about you, but be honest. You can bet that your interviewer will ask this person the same question. Then, to support your point, describe a very specific example of how you solved a problem or tackled a difficult situation. Provide specific details about how your efforts contributed to improved student performance. Describe the strategy or approach and the specific results you obtained.
: How will you complement this school?
A: I particularly enjoy an environment in which there is a great deal of camaraderie and support. My two previous visits to Deer Valley High School revealed that teachers here are quite supportive of each other. There are book-discussion groups, teacher-led in-service meetings, and several social events throughout the year. There is a spirit of cooperation and collegial support throughout the school, a spirit I can embrace and prosper in.
One of the essential "ingredients" in every new employee is the ability to work well with others and the ability to be part of a highly functioning team. The interviewer wants to know how you will become part of the "education team" and that your personality will complement the staff already in place. This is an opportunity to assure the interviewer that you are a true "team player." You'll also note that this is a good question to determine whether you have done your homework on the school prior to your interview.
: What are some of your hobbies or leisure-time activities?
A: I guess I've always been an "outdoors nut." I really enjoy getting outside and hiking, camping, and exploring nature. Last summer I hiked down into the Grand Canyon and spent three days traversing Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Next summer I plan to spend a week hiking the Appalachian Trail from Maine down into Pennsylvania. I've read Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods and strongly believe that nature should be an important part of every child's education. I'd like to share my passion for the outdoors with my students.
This is another opportunity for you to sell yourself, not just as a teacher but also as a well-rounded individual. Be sure to emphasize any hobbies, activities, or pursuits that might carry over to the classroom. And be sure to let your passion for these activities show through.
FROM THE PRINCIPAL'S DESK:
"Smiling, friendly, joyful, excited, energetic, and enthusiastic are emotions and conveyances I look for in a candidate."