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Principal Calling: Can You Recommend This Student Teacher?

Hello again,
I received a call yesterday from a principal who was considering hiring one of my former student teachers. He asked me a series of questions that I thought would be good to share with my blog readers.

It thought it might be nice to be able to share with prospective teachers what principals are looking for in a candidate.

Here are the questions he asked:

1. What are the candidate’s strengths? If you’re going to get noticed, you have to have something that you are really good at. In my student teacher’s case, she was really good at getting the kids to debate controversial issues. You have to be careful with 8th graders. They’re not real good at debating, but I told the principal that my student teacher was able to control the discussion and keep them on topic. You might want to ask yourself, “What is my strength?” Is it preparation? Organization? Rapport with the students? Communicating with parents? Technology? Whatever your strength is, make sure your master teacher is aware of it, so he/she can answer this question.

2. What are the candidate’s weaknesses? You might want to be upfront with this. Tell your master teacher where you need some work, and ask for help. I was quick to point out that my student teacher was weak in a certain area, but she was quick to take my advice and implement it into her lessons. Please don’t be one of those “I-Know-More-Than-The-Master-Teacher” student teachers. You may be right, but probably not, and you’re going to need that recommendation.

3. How did the candidate carry her/himself with the staff? It’s important to get to know the other members of the team. Eat lunch with them, but don’t talk too much. I know that sounds mean, but it’s really annoying when a person dominates the entire lunch-time conversation. It leaves a bad impression on the staff, and you have to remember, you’re a rookie to them. It’s harsh, but trust me, it’s valuable advice. My student teacher sat and listened to the conversation, and asked a lot of questions. That’s good. Do that.  Teachers love to teach, and when someone wants to learn, they’ll go out of their way to help.

4. How did the candidate work with the students? The key here is repect. Make sure that the master teacher can say that you treated the students with respect. Avoid the temptation to talk down to the kids or belittle their dumb ideas or suggestions. If you demonstrate that you are giving each student quality time and attention, it not only will make your class run more smoothly, but it will give your master teacher something good to say when asked this question.

Then he asked me to rate the candidate on a scale from 1-5, with 5 being best on the following points:

1. Character – This was first on his list, which told me that it was an important part of his decision-making strategy. Avoid the temptation to take short cuts or use excuses. Don’t give your master teacher any reason to doubt your character.

2. Punctuality – Very important. Try and be there before your master teacher. It’s worth the getting up before the chickens.

3. Appearance – No administrator wants a school with sloppily-dressed teachers. Dress to impress even on casual Fridays.

4. Preparation – Another biggie. Have your lessons ready to go. Plan for more than the time allotted. It’s better to have left over lesson than left over time. The best way to leave a bad impression with your master teacher is arrive with not enough lesson.

5. Communication – I asked for clarification on this one. Communication with staff? The students? Parents? Me? The principal wanted to know how the candidate communicated in all these areas. Ask for an opportunity to speak with a parent. This will give you some practice in the one of the toughest parts of the job. I’ll add a post on communicating with parents soon.

And finally,  he asked me the question, “If you were me, and you were hiring a person for this job, would you hire the candidate?

Following the advice above should make this question an easy one to answer.

That’s all.
Here’s to lots of Success in the Classroom!




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  1. November 11, 2011    

    Hi, thanks so much for this post. I’m currently looking for my first teaching post and had been wondering about this – what are school principals most interested in or concerned about when selecting prospective graduate teachers? I know that each principal will be a little different, but this has given me a little more insight. Thanks!

    • Sam's Gravatar Sam
      November 11, 2011    

      Hello MissD,
      Thanks for the comment. Good luck in your job search. Keep what’s best for kids as your main priority, and all your answers to the interview questions will be right.

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  1. Learn How to Get That Teaching Job - Lessons from My Former Student Teacher on November 5, 2010 at 7:46 am

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