- Believes His or Her Methods and Philosophies Are the Only (or Best) Ones
- Isn't Flexible
- Displays Negative Body Language
- Demonstrates Poor Listening Skills
- Is Unwilling (or Unable) to Accept Responsibility
- Has No Sense of Direction
- Lacks Confidence and Self-Esteem
- Is Discourteous, Ill-Mannered, and Disrespectful
Believes His or Her Methods and Philosophies Are the Only (or Best) Ones
They aren't! Get over it.
One of the most important skills any teacher can have is flexibility. Without it, you'll never survive in a classroom. Equipment breaks down, colleagues get sick, somebody throws up on your lesson plans, a guest speaker doesn't show up, you slip on the ice and break your ankle in three places (yes, that happened to me), the hamster escapes from his cage, there's a fire drill right in the middle of your fantastic PowerPoint presentation on the Reformation, and the list goes on. Flexibility— being able to roll with the punches—is key to your success as a classroom teacher. If you can demonstrate that you aren't easily flustered or thrown off your game plan by the inevitable interruptions, miscues, and unplanned events of classroom life, then you will have a much greater likelihood of being hired.
Several studies have shown that the ability to "embrace change" is one of the most significant predictors of employment success. It is essential that you persuade an interviewer that you are able to adapt and flow with change. (This can be easily done through the use of personal stories or anecdotes.) The ability to deal with change is critical to a successful interview and a successful career as a classroom teacher.
Displays Negative Body Language
As you'll learn in Chapter 5, your body language sends a very powerful message to any interviewer. Slouch in your chair, fold your arms across your chest, fiddle with the keys in your pocket, never smile, keep crossing and uncrossing your legs, never make eye contact, scratch various body parts, run your fingers through your hair, yawn, tap your toes, and give a "limp-wrist" handshake, and the interviewer knows a lot about you (unfortunately, it's all negative) without even listening to your responses to his or her questions. Your body sends a very powerful message—be sure it's the right one (a good reason to read the following chapter).
Demonstrates Poor Listening Skills
Remember that an interview is a conversation. In any effective and successful conversation, people must talk and people must listen. If you spend too much time focused on what you want to say and not enough time on listening to what the interviewer is saying, then you'll be involved in a non-productive interview. It's important to establish a rapport with the person interviewing you. The best way to do that is to listen carefully to what he or she is saying or asking. Smile, nod, or give some physical indication that acknowledges what you are hearing, and you'll solidify the rapport essential to a productive interview.
Is Unwilling (or Unable) to Accept Responsibility
Good teachers are responsible. Poor teachers are always willing to accuse others or make flimsy excuses for their own behavior. If you make a lot of excuses, then the message you are sending is that you are an irresponsible person—and principals don't want irresponsible teachers in their schools. Here are some of the excuses teacher candidates have offered during interview sessions. I hope none of these came from you.
"My professors obviously didn't know what they were talking about."
"I got a lousy education."
"The principal at Drowning Sheep Elementary wasn't very helpful."
"Nobody told me what to do."
"Hey, it wasn't my fault."
"It was a stupid school."
"What do you think I shoulda done?"
"The other teachers were just a bunch of snobs."
"That's not what it said in the textbook."
"My cooperating teacher was a jerk."
"My college supervisor was a jerk."
"They never gave me a break."
If you made a mistake or blew a lesson during student teaching and are asked about it, own up to it. But also share 1) how you corrected the situation, and 2) what you learned as a result of the experience.
Has No Sense of Direction
If you have no long-term goals, no sense of direction, no idea where you will be or what you will be doing ten years from now, then you'll have a difficult interview experience. Interviewers want to know if you have a plan, a detailed roadmap of where you would like to be in the future. Education is never a destination; it is always a journey. And if you don't know where you're going, then you'll never know when you get there. If all you want is a job, then you'll be like thousands of other potential teachers—always looking for one. If you have a specific plan of action for your career—beyond the current job opening—then you will grab the attention of an interviewer.
Lacks Confidence and Self-Esteem
You're going to feel nervous just before an interview. You're going to have one or more butterflies flitting around in your stomach during the interview. And you're going to ask yourself a thousand questions after the interview. These apprehensions are quite natural and have been experienced by millions of teachers who, just like you, were trying to get ready for that all-important interview. But, by practicing the techniques and suggestions in this book, rehearsing your responses to the sample questions, and participating in a few mock interviews, you can gain the confidence and self-assurance that will steel you through the entire interview process. If it makes any difference, know that the person who will be interviewing you has gone through more than one interview himself or herself. He or she knows the feelings, the emotions, and the uncertainty. Interviewers have been there and done that. Walk in with a smile on your face and a determination to show the interviewer that you have prepared for this interview, and you'll have the confidence you need to succeed.
Is Discourteous, Ill-Mannered, and Disrespectful
Mind your manners! Be courteous! Respect everyone! End of lecture.