: What motivates you to be a teacher?
A: I've been very fortunate to have several inspirational teachers in my
scholastic career, teachers who have challenged and motivated me to be a dynamic educator. These were teachers like Mr. Hoffman in eighth grade, who set a consistent positive example, and Miss Semple in tenth grade, who showed me that learning can be a lifelong pursuit. I've been motivated in ways I never thought possible, and I'd like to inspire and help others do the same.
This question provides an interviewer with some inside information about your reasons for becoming a teacher. They want some assurance that you're not just looking for long summer vacations and an easy 9-to-5 job. This would be a perfect opportunity to provide some specific details about people who have influenced you and your commitment to "keep the fires burning" throughout your teaching career. Don't be vague or uncertain here; offer compelling details and sound motivation.
: How do you deal with stress?
A: I went into teaching knowing full well that it would be a stressful profession. During my teacher education program, I have developed several strategies to deal with the day-to-day stressors that inevitably come with the job. I visit a health club four times a week. On weekends I take long "power walks" through the woods near where I live. I'm learning about yoga and some of the benefits it offers to help individuals achieve a sense of harmony. I belong to a book-discussion group, take watercolor classes at the local art association, and have an active circle of friends. I try to maintain a wide diversity of physical and mental options that help me achieve balance in my life.
Don't make the mistake of saying that you are not stressed by teaching—the interviewer will know, right away, that you are less than honest. He or she has had numerous years of experience as a former classroom teacher and will know that stress is an inevitable part of the job. Let the interviewer know that you understand that stress and teaching go hand in hand, but also share the strategies and techniques that help you maintain a balance in your life.
: What special skills or talents will you bring to your classroom?
A: I've always been interested in theatre. I was in a number of plays in college and served as a youth director for a production at a repertory company in town. I've read some books about reader's theatre and how valuable it can be as a language arts activity, how it can help kids become more fluent readers. I would like to make it part of my language arts curriculum. From what I've read, I think it can be a positive addition to the classroom curriculum and a way to get kids more actively engaged in their own learning.
Once again, the interviewer is providing you with an opportunity to demonstrate how well-rounded you are. Don't blow this chance to let your personality and talents show through. As before, select examples that can have a connection to what goes on in a classroom or to specific elements of the overall curriculum. Let your talents and skills shine, but don't go overboard.
: We have a number of applicants interviewing for this position. Why should we take a closer look at you?
A: More than just a major in college, teaching for me is a passion. I've worked closely with our local Boy Scout troop, volunteered as a youth leader in my church, and spent quite a bit of time in the children's department in the local public library. With me, you'll get passion and commitment, but you'll also get a wide range of experiences in several different settings.. .experiences that give me a broad base beyond course work and student teaching.
This is a question often asked near the end of an interview. It is a great way to put a punctuation mark on who you are and what you will bring to a school. It's similar to the question, "Why should we hire you?" and provides you with a terrific opportunity to leave the interviewer with a most favorable impression. Practice this one, and be prepared to offer specific details. Your response should also answer the question posed in Chapter 6. One other thing: Don't "talk negative" about the other candidates; if you do, you're toast!