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The education job market is in the midst of a major downturn.  It’s hard on anyone looking a teaching job.  Consider broadening your job search to on-line job market places.  Road to Teaching recommends K-12 Jobs.com.

Don’t lose hope.

-Eric

P.S. Check out Road to Teaching’s Teacher Interview page – the web’s largest collection of teacher interview questions.

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Stop and think before you answer this question.  The interviewers really don’t want to hear your life story or the names of all your 20 cats.  Rather what they are listening for is how well you will fit into the school, work with your colleagues, and relate to your students.

Talk about yourself and 1-2 life experience, but ALWAYS tie it back to how it will help you in teaching. 

For example:

“I would describe myself as adventurous and outgoing.  Last year I traveled throughout Southeast Asia, traveling to four countries.  I love learning about new cultures and meeting new people.  This is one of the reasons I want to teach at {insert school name}.  It has amazing diversity.  I would take this same enthusiam and apply it to learning more about my students and their backgrounds.”

we-need-youWe need you!  Try your hand at answering any of the teacher interview questionsWe will then post your answer by linking it to the teacher interview question you choose.

Everyday hundreds of pre-service teachers and other job seekers visit Road to Teaching’s Teacher Interview Question page – the largest collection of teacher interview questions on the web.  This is a free resource, maintained by a teacher.  So, with your help we could turn this to the web’s largest collection of teacher interview questions with ANSWERS!

Feel free to email your question and answer to eric [at] roadtoteaching [dot] com.  Alternatively, you can simply leave a comment to this post or comment on the teacher interview question page.  We will extract your Q&A and make the link.

Please help us expand the usefulness of Road to Teaching.

I was reading a post at Copy Paste, and came across a resource I had to share with the Road to Teachers audience.  It’s called the Certification Map, sponsored by MAT@USC.  The Certification Map gives you a snapshot of each state’s teaching job market, coursework requirements, teacher preparation programs, testing, and other useful resources.  This is AWESOME!!!  Good work USC!

I am currently in San Antonio, attending the Phi Delta Kappa International Summit.  I have been involved in various discussion groups and listened to a panel of distinguished education leaders.  A topic that has been reoccurring is changing how we teach teachers.  This is of special interest to me, evident in my writings and in creation of this website – all in an effort to support aspiring teachers.

Many of the higher education professors explained that the teacher preparation programs are moving in the right direction, touting that many teacher preparation programs have students engaged in year-long clinical studies (student teaching) before entering the classroom.  Others spoke of the improvement of mentorship from the school district of beginning teachers.  These are all great steps in the right direction.  Yet, there is a disconnect in the assumption that universities always prepare qualified teachers ready for the classroom and, second, that once teachers are in the classroom, school districts will have a comprehensive mentoring program in place.  Many times one or both of the these assumptions prove false.

I reflected back to my business background and how it might apply to education.  When I hired a new employee, they were first introduced to the business and its culture.  After this, the new employee were trained for their position.  As part of this training, new employees learned in a classroom-type setting and would work with more experienced employees, creating a type of mentorship and hands-on learning.  Then, new hires had to pass a test, which then led to “graduation.”

So far does this seem very similar to the teacher preparation programs you and I went through?  First came the teacher training classes and then the student teaching component.  Lastly, we graduated and we’re hired as first year teachers (hopefully with some type of mentor program to give support).

However, there is a huge difference.  In the business setting, I would NEVER allow a new employee begin working without continual monitoring, goal setting, and targeted professional development.  The training department of the company was responsible for the outcome / performance of their trainee three months after they graduated their training program.

I propose we do the same with higher education.  Upon completion of the teacher preparation coursework and student teaching, teachers are given a “provisional” degree and certification.  The teacher training program then acts as a bridge to the local schools for which the teachers teach.  For their first year, teachers are given continual feedback, support, goals, and targeted professional development from a collaborative partnership between the higher education program and school district.

The school district would provide mentor teachers at the same school, allowing for a long-lasting, supportive relationship to be established.  Higher education program would provide additional monitoring and feedback, but also provide (free) professional development workshops / ed. courses to meet the needs of the beginning teacher.  Upon completion of this first year, then teachers receive their final degree and certification.  Let’s not stop there.  Imagine after the first year, beginning teachers continued to receive feedback and support by taking a university-sponsored support program for completing NBPTS.

A teacher preparation model like this would provide any pre-service teacher a smooth transition from their training to the classroom, preparing them better to meet student needs. This high level partnership would lead to increased student achievement, reduce teacher turnover, and have a financial payoff (ROI) for school districts by not having to find and replace teachers that left the profession.

In one of my Master’s classes, the professor gave us some advice that she received when she was in college.  She believed it was one of the most important pieces of advice that she received in her academic career.  Her advice is to organize your studies, whenever possible, around a central theme.

What did the professor mean by building on a central theme?  In your preservice training there are numerous scholarly opportunities to do research on topics that are of high interest to you.  The professor explained that when you are given an opportunity to research something of your choosing then stick to one educational topic of interest.  Some possible topics of interests may include: interdisciplinary teaming, cooperating learning, multiple intelligences, or special education.  The benefits of building on a central theme throughout your academic career are:

1) You become an expert on the topic.  With each class you can build on your knowledge of the topic

2) You can reduce your workload.  You can take research you have already completed and use it for another research project.

3) You build great references and research that may be used for a higher degree, whether it is a Masters or a Doctorate.

I thought about my professor’s advice and decided my central theme would be interdisciplinary teaming.  I was passionate about this concept because the school I was intending to student teach practiced interdisciplinary teaming. Therefore, I used interdisciplinary teaming as the driver for my research and studies.  By simply completing a few courses I began to build a wealth of resources on the topic as well as incorporating different prospective into the topic.  Here is a breakdown of the classes that I took that built on my central theme of interdisciplinary teaming:

Adolescent Development – Researched how interdisciplinary teaming contributed to a sense of community and helped meet the adolescent’s need for belonging.

Exceptional Children – Researched the benefits of interdisciplinary teaming in the perspective of special education

Quantitative Research – Added quantitative research and a literature review of the benefits of interdisciplinary teaming

Qualitative Research – Added qualitative research and a literature review of the benefits of interdisciplinary teaming

When you find a topic that interests you and you begin to do research, remember to organize it in a manner that makes the most sense to you.  It might be best to just create a single folder to keep all your work and research together.

Resource Links

Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job

Student Teacher Topics

A critical step in preparing for a successful student teaching experience is to research and learn about your new school and its students. Chances are you have never been in the school, nor have you met any of the students. If you have, through work experience or just by visiting, then you are ahead of the game, and the first day of student teaching will not feel so much like a blind date. Nonetheless, further research of your student teaching assignment is critical. This information allows an educator to familiarize themselves with the students and their backgrounds; the school and its goals; information on the classrooms and classes offered; and the general community. Knowing this information on the school and students will alleviate some of the anxiety a student teacher may have.

To learn about the school, talk to teachers that teach, or used to teach, there. Use the Internet to visit the websites of the school, the district, and the state education office. Watch for and clip articles from the local newspaper about the school. Call the local Chamber of Commerce.

Below are questions to guide you in your research:

·What is the student make-up of the school (special ed, bilingual, ethnic backgrounds, income)?

·What types of learning initiatives are in place at the school?

·What are the schools test scores? How are the score trending? What are areas of strength and weakness? (This information can usually be found on the state education office website.)

·What is the typical class size?

·How many students and teachers are there?

·What type of curriculum and programs does the school offer?

·Where is the school located?

·What are the school guidelines, school rules, and emergency procedures?

·Who are the key players (principals, department heads, etc), and what are their backgrounds?

In performing due diligence on your student teaching assignment, you reduce the anxiety surrounding the student teacher experience, and you develop a greater understanding of your students and their learning needs. Overall, you position yourself for a successful student teaching experience.