What gives you the greatest pleasure in teaching?

A: I call it the "light bulb effect." It's that time in a lesson, unit, or discussion when a student "gets it"—when that proverbial light bulb goes off over his or her head. There's nothing like it in the world! It's when that look of recognition crosses a student's face, when a student exclaims, "Hey, this is really cool!" or jumps up and down with unmitigated excitement. There's a joy in the discovery and an enthusiasm in the voice as students realize that they now understand something they didn't previously. That's what I want to work for with all my students. I want them all to experience that "light bulb effect" in each and every subject throughout the school year.

Your answer should underscore your reasons for becoming a teacher. Your response should be a validation of why you decided to enter this profession and what you will do in order to be one of the best. Most important, there should be passion in your response!

What kind of principal would you like to work for?

A: From my own observations and conversations with teachers, I think that a good relationship with a building principal needs to be based on trust and communication. I can certainly help in that regard by always keeping my principal informed. I know that the last thing any administrator needs or wants is a surprise. If I was inviting a guest speaker into my classroom, setting up a terrarium with a collection of snakes, or assigning a controversial book for my students to read, I would want to inform my principal. I've learned that keeping the principal in the loop, information-wise, is always a good idea. If I have a problem student or anticipate the storming of the office by an irate parent, I should let my principal know early on. A well-informed principal can assist me in working through a problem, particularly if he or she has information early in the process. That information sharing is critical in establishing trust and open lines of communication between me and my principal.

If you go back to Chapter 6, you'll note that your answer to this question is also an answer to the single-most important question. Administrators want to hire people who will not create problems, but will make the principal's job a little easier. You will note that a good response to this query is proactive rather than reactive. Rather than describe the principal (which may or may not match the person interviewing you), explain what you will do to enhance a positive teacher/principal relationship. You'll get more points that way.


Some books recommend that you take notes throughout the interview. My conversations with principals reveal that it's a bad idea simply because it's difficult to write, listen, and develop a rapport all at the same time. You are frequently distracted and often misfocused. My advice: Save the multi-tasking for another time.

How would you describe the ideal teacher?

A: The ideal teacher is someone who embraces and practices several standards of good teaching. I believe that three are critical and necessary for good teaching to take place. First, the ideal teacher understands how children learn and can develop learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, and personal development. Second, the ideal teacher uses an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self motivation. And, third, the ideal teacher understands and uses formal and informal assessment strategies that ensure the continuous intellectual development of all learners. While these are certainly not the only standards good teachers should practice, I believe them to be three of the most important.

This is a question you're likely to be asked near the beginning of the interview. Then the interviewer will try to determine (throughout the remainder of the interview) if, indeed, you are the candidate who best exemplifies these ideals. It's equally important that you know what good teachers do (and how you would embrace that philosophy) in response to those concepts.


"Last spring we had an interview with a candidate who was so passionate about students and helping them in any way she could that she made all of us cry."

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