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: What two things would you like to improve about yourself?

A: The two things I would like to improve on over the next few years are my computer skills and my time-management skills. I'm currently addressing my computer skills in a course I plan to take this summer at Prestigious University. While I can effectively integrate technology into all my subject areas, the field is changing so rapidly that I should make sure I'm getting the latest information. It's a process I plan to continue throughout my teaching career. I'd also like to improve my time management. I tend to be one of those people who always tries to do too much. I often find that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished. I need to prioritize my work better and give myself some time for reflection and inquiry.

Interviewers often ask this question in order to find out about some of your weaknesses. It's always a good idea to respond with "deficits" that everyone wrestles with. Things like time management, patience, technological skills, and attitude are items we all could improve. The best answer for this question is one that focuses on "improvements" related directly to teaching. In other words, don't tell the interviewer that you'd like to improve the quality of the beverages at your Friday night poker game or that you'd like to find more time to update your Facebook account this week.

INSIDER TIP

Whenever you can, demonstrate that you are mature enough to handle constructive criticism.

: What book are you currently reading or have you read recently?

A: I think that teachers of reading should also be readers themselves. That's always a good model for kids. In my "Introduction to American Education" course during my sophomore year, I was introduced to Jonathan Kozol. I'm now re-reading his book Savage Inequalities to improve my understanding of his philosophy about how the American education system is not always fair or equal, particularly for kids in urban schools. I'm also reading a book by Barry Lopez called About This Life because I like his nonfiction work about nature and the environment. He's given me lots to think about in terms of the overall science curriculum.

This question is an attempt to discover two things: how well-rounded you are, and whether you stay up to date with current trends. This is an oft-asked question, so you should always be ready for it. Principals want to know if you plan to continue your self-education after you leave college and if you are willing to expand your horizons beyond the classroom. If you're not reading one or two books in the weeks prior to an interview, start right away.

: Compared with other student teachers, how would you rate yourself?

A: On a one-to-five scale (as used on the state evaluation form), I consistently achieved an average of 4.7 on all five areas of student teaching competence. My cooperating teacher consistently rated me high on all the necessary markers for student teaching. While I know that student teaching is still a learning process, I achieved evaluative marks and comments that were some of the best. I like to set high standards for myself, just as I do for my students. Always learning and always getting better are goals I always want to be working toward.

Be honest and sincere when you answer this question. If you have some numerical data or written reviews to share with the interviewer, please do so. It's data that can easily be verified later. If your scores or evaluative marks are not as high as you would like, let the interviewer know that one of your primary goals is to keep improving. In short, you're not a "finished product"—you are still a "work in progress."

 
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