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: What might your college supervisor want to change about your teaching style?

A: I'm a detail person; my supervisor likes to look at the big picture. I would obsess over the smallest detail, the tiniest item, or the smallest bit of information, making sure that each and every piece was part of a perfect lesson. My supervisor tried to get me to look at the larger picture—the overall goals of a lesson or unit. While I'm still concerned about all the necessary details of a lesson plan, I've come to see the importance of where I'm headed in each lesson. I've learned that an eye on the standards—rather than simply the pebbles along the path—will often make the journey more productive for my students. My supervisor helped me appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

Here's a great opportunity for you to demonstrate how you handle criticism as well as how much you are willing to adjust your philosophy. Are you inflexible, or are you open to change and willing to look at a situation from a new angle? Whenever you are asked one of these questions, it's always a good idea to point out some minor difference of opinion rather than a major conflict. Equally important, demonstrate how you worked with someone on resolving the issue. Show how you can accommodate the ideas of others and especially how you can do that in a spirit of shared cooperation.

: Tell me about a situation that frustrated you during student teaching.

A: I was frustrated when my college supervisor made me write out my lesson plans for the first ten weeks of student teaching. Many of my friends only had to write complete lesson plans for the first four weeks and then they went to "block plans." However, in talking with my supervisor, I learned that it is always advisable to over-plan—that is, to write lesson plans that are more detailed and more involved early in the teaching process. I discovered the advantage of that on two occasions—once, when an assembly had to be cancelled, and another time, when a teacher on our social studies team called in sick at the last minute. I was glad to have those expanded lessons—they really came in handy. I understand now why I was asked to do a lot of over- planning early in my student teaching experience.

This question is designed to probe how you react to criticism. Are you someone who blames everyone else when things don't go right? Or are you someone who uses advice in a positive way to become a better teacher? This is a grand opportunity for you to show how you turned a negative into a positive.

FROM THE PRINCIPAL'S DESK:

One principal told me about a question she always asked: "Please share your personal feelings on winning and losing." She said she wanted to know how well a candidate could think on his or her feet as well as how the candidates were able to express themselves with a completely different mindset (from the usual teacher questions). She said she loved to hear responses such as "I like to win" or "I want my students to be winners in the classroom and in life." According to her, "Those responses showed that the candidate would do anything to ensure success in the classroom—they were candidates who would go the extra mile...above and beyond the usual expectations of teachers."

: Tell me about a time when your co-operating teacher wasn't happy with your teaching.

A: During my first week of student teaching, I was very nervous and I jumped right into my math lessons without taking the time to do an anticipatory set. The students had puzzled looks on their faces, and I couldn't figure out why until my co-operating teacher pointed out that I'd left out one of the most important parts of any lesson. I realized how important it was to follow the standard lesson protocol and take the time to properly introduce every lesson. Since that first week, Mrs. Jesson has been very pleased with my performance.

This is not the time to blame others or to make lame excuses. Take full responsibility for your actions, and show how you were willing to make any necessary changes as a result of the incident. It is not necessary to go into a great deal of detail here; instead, point out a minor conflict and quickly explain how you used it to become a better teacher.

 
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