As the new Assistant Principal of the school where I taught for 16 years, I find myself in the exciting, but pressure-filled role where I have to interview candidates for teacher positions.
Recently, I spent an entire day conducting interviews for two teaching positions at my school. I was one of a panel of six teachers and administrators.
As Jim Collins shares in his book, Good to Great, it’s important to get the right person on the bus, so I took this role very seriously.
I knew that the person we were going to hire was going to not only be a part of our school family, but he/she was going to play an important part in our vision for the future of the school.
I must say, I was very surprised, and a little disappointed at what I experienced.
Most of the candidates, although intelligent and enthusiastic, were completely taken off guard by the questions we asked. Some were obviously not teacher material, but most would probably do fine if hired. The problem was that because they didn’t know how to answer the questions well enough to satisfy our expectations, they often disqualified themselves.
It was a little discouraging.
So, in the next few posts, I’d like to share with you what I call:
How to Nail the Interview for a Teaching Position.
Cool title. Huh?
My goal is to help soon-to-be teachers be better prepared for the meeting that may possibly change their lives forever. At the same time, I want to emphasize the important qualities that I believe every teacher needs to have.
Ready? Let’s start nailing.
Nail #1: Make Building Positive Relationships a Priority.
It doesn’t matter how good you are at lesson planning or classroom management if you can’t connect with your students. Your ability to quote the state standards won’t impress me as much as your ability to build positive relationships.
If you want to be a teacher, we assume that you like kids. (If you don’t like kids, you shouldn’t be a teacher. Stop reading this now, and do something else with your life.)
Still, it’s important that you let the panel know that you are kid-friendly. Give examples of when you volunteered as a soccer coach or a team mom. The panel wants to know that you are someone who is out to do what’s best for kids. As the interviewer, I’m looking for someone who I can trust to take care of my kids – someone who will make my kids, their kids.
That is why I was looking especially for that answer that demonstrated a priority in building positive relationships.
The stronger your relationships with your students are, the more they will want to learn in your classroom. (That’s a good quote. Feel free to use it in your interview.) You want to let your the panel know that your first priority will be to learn all you can about your students.
It’s all about building relationships.
The absence of the relationship piece was a disqualifier in my opinion.
So, how do you build positive relationships with your students? You might get this question.
I wrote a blog post about making connections. You can check it out here.
You’ll want to tell the panel that part of your strategy to create positive relationships with your students will include learning all you can about each student. This might start with a student questionnaire that you give on the first day. It might be that you are going to make time to meet with each student individually sometime during the first week. It could be that you are going to commit to standing at the door every day to welcome each student with a smile and a positive comment. Let the panel know that you believe in kids. You have their best interest at heart.
If you want to nail that teacher interview, especially if I’m on the panel, you will want to make building positive relationships with your students a priority.
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Until next time, here’s to your Success in the Classroom!