F. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
: Tell me about a time when you didn't perform well in student teaching.
A: During my first weeks in student teaching, I commandeered each classroom discussion; I didn't allow students opportunities to pose their own questions. I was so concerned with getting through the entire lesson plan that I forgot to allow opportunities for some inquiry-based learning. When my college supervisor pointed that out, we were able to work out a plan that allowed for more student questioning. I quickly discovered that when students ask their own questions they are more involved in the lesson and, consequently, want to learn more about the subject matter. It was an important lesson for me, and I've never forgotten it.
This question is designed to solicit two answers: your ability to self-evaluate, and your ability to learn from your mistakes. The best way to respond is to use an experience from early in your student teaching experience or pre-service education, an incident based on inexperience. Provide a specific example of how you dealt with the incident and how that experience has become part of your philosophy of teaching.
: Why should teachers use lesson plans?
A: Lesson plans exist for several reasons. 1) They ensure that students are taught what they need to know (as established by the school, the district, or the state). 2) They are an outline that allows teachers to prepare for and attend to individual differences between and among students. 3) They ensure that teaching is both effective and efficient so classroom time is used appropriately. 4) They provide others, such as substitute teachers, with an appropriate instructional plan. And 5) they serve as a way for teachers to evaluate their teaching effectiveness.
Lesson plans are one of the cornerstones of teaching. Be sure you can convince an interviewer that you not only know what they are, but also that you are keenly aware of how they should be used. Don't make the mistake of thinking that this is a "throwaway" question. It is anything but!
: Please describe the steps you use to plan a lesson.
A: A good lesson plan provides an outline for the accomplishment of specific tasks, while at the same time allowing for a measure of flexibility in terms of student interests and needs. My lesson plans consist of several critical elements. First, there must be a set of specific objectives. I know that a well-crafted objective has two components: the students for whom the objective is intended, and the anticipated performance. Next, there must be an anticipatory set or motivational opening—that is, how I stimulate student interest in a topic or subject. Next, I must provide a series of guided practice activities. These should incorporate several elements, including specific instructional methodologies, creative-thinking opportunities, "hands- on, minds-on" activities, and various ways in which students can practice the desired behavior. There must be some form of closure to the lesson—a teacher summary, a student summary, or some type of lesson product like a poster, brochure, mobile, or portfolio. Finally, I need to address evaluation and assessment—not as something done solely at the end of a lesson, but rather as a concept woven throughout the entire lesson. Above all, I have to make sure that everything in a lesson is geared towards the identified objectives or a set of specific standards.
If you don't know how to write a lesson plan, you're going to have a very difficult time convincing any interviewer you are a competent teacher. Make sure you know all the elements of a good lesson plan.. .cold!