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C. Education, Training, and Experience

: Why did you choose education as your career?

A: I chose education for three reasons: First, I wanted to be a positive role model in the lives of youngsters; second, I wanted to impart wisdom and an excitement for learning; and, third, I want to influence this next generation of students, imparting to them the excitement of learning, the passion of discovery, and the magic of an inquisitive mind. For me, teaching is a way of life rather than just a way to make a living.

Be short, succinct, and passionate. Two to three sentences filled with excitement and desire will provide the interviewer with a very positive message about who you are and why you are sitting in the interview chair.

: What new skills or ideas do you bring to the job that other candidates aren't likely to offer?

A: I'm keenly aware of how the new standards are impacting classroom teachers. I know how teachers struggle with the implementation of those standards simply because I was asked to do the same in my student teaching experience. I learned very quickly that standards-based education is much more than possessing a knowledge of the standards; it's a commitment to an ideal, a philosophy that can have a significant impact on student learning.

This question provides you with a unique opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of current issues, concerns, or initiatives in education. It is not really a question of how much better you are than others, but rather one that shows how knowledgeable you are about the wider world of education. If the competition is good, then this question (and your response) should let the interviewer know that you're bringing something extra to the position. Don't fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others ("I'm more qualified than anyone else because instead, show what you do know (and let the interviewer make the comparison in his or her head).

: How do you stay current in education?

A: Beyond my courses and my work with the student education association, I subscribe to Instructor Magazine, try to read at least one new teacher-resource book every month, and participate in an educational blog geared for new teachers. I know that my education doesn't end in the college classroom, but rather should be a continuous part of my growth and development as an educator.

Careful! If you are not prepared, this question—as simple as it sounds—could trip you up. The intent is to see how much value you have placed on your own education. If you give any indication that your college career is the end of your education, then you may be dooming your chances for employment.

: Why did you attend College?

A: I went to Mountain State College because of its strong teacher education program. In high school, I looked at several different colleges, and I considered the strength of their pre-service programs, the teaching expertise of the faculty, the student orientation, and the intensity of the coursework. Conversations with teachers in the area showed that Mountain State had a strong program, one that was both respected and admired. After a round of college visits, I was convinced that Mountain State would be the institution that would help me best achieve my goals. As I look back, I knew it was the right choice then and is certainly the right choice now. I got a great education, learned more than I ever knew possible about teaching, and was challenged at every turn. I don't regret a single moment.

Your answer should confirm your commitment to teaching. It should highlight your career goals, your passion for teaching, and how the institution helped you become a more accomplished educator. The interviewer will undoubtedly know about the status and reputation of the institution; it will be your job to show how the institution played a significant role in the pursuit of your goals. Your answer must also demonstrate that you make rational and conscious choices that demonstrate your ability to make (and follow through on) long-range goals.

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