: What were some of the things you didn't like about student teaching?
A: I was sometimes frustrated about the time schedule. The periods were all divided into 90-minute time frames. My students and I would sometimes really get into a topic, and then we'd have to end because the bell rang. I found it upsetting that there wasn't always sufficient time to cover all the material and provide students with enough guided practice to put that information into practice. It sometimes seemed as though we were prisoners to the clock. But it did teach me about time management and the fact that I need to provide complete lessons in a designated time frame. That's something I continue to work on.
The best way to answer this question is to respond with something that has absolutely nothing to do with your abilities or your performance. Identify something that is outside your control—the clock, the bus schedule, the constant entrance and exit of students throughout the day, or the lack of adequate classroom computers. Make sure your response is about something over which you had no control.
: What were the most rewarding aspects of student teaching?
A: One of my professors always used to say, "The best teachers are those who have as much to learn as they do to teach." I discovered that to be a good teacher one always has to be open to new strategies, techniques, and possibilities. Student teaching made clear to me that just because I have a lot of "book learning" doesn't mean that I know everything about teaching. Not only did I have to keep up on the latest information about biology education, I also had to be open to suggestions and comments from other teachers, administrators, and even students. Keeping an open mind was critical to my success as a student teacher, as I'm sure it will be to my success as a high school biology teacher. I don't believe there's such a thing as a finite body of knowledge; good teachers are always searching for new information and are always willing to consider new possibilities.
Administrators want to hire people who are not only consummate teachers but are well-rounded as well. This question provides you with a unique opportunity to demonstrate your personal philosophy as well as your professional philosophy. Your response should show evidence of both your teaching competence as well as your long-term potential.
FROM THE PRINCIPAL'S DESK:
"I particularly dislike candidates who ramble on and on about themselves or communicate that they are 'in love with themselves.'"
: What experiences have you had working with students other than student teaching?
A: For the past three years, I have been a volleyball coach at the local YMCA, working with the junior volleyball team. I have been an after-school tutor at the Valley Community Center on Thursday evenings, helping youngsters with various homework assignments. Each summer I am a volunteer reader at Long Valley Community Library, where I share books and stories with three to five year olds. I've been a camp counselor for four years at the Big Mountain Nature Camp, and I've helped supervise playground activities during the annual Spring Fling in Centerville. I guess I've always been attracted to being around kids and take every opportunity I can to work with kids, teach them, and be a positive influence in their lives.
The interviewer wants to know if you've had varied and diverse opportunities in working with children. Have you experienced diverse populations of kids and been involved in an eclectic array of child-centered activities? Bottom line: The more programs and activities you've experienced—beyond student teaching—the better your chances at obtaining a teaching position.
: Describe a teacher you admire.
A: I've always admired my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Voitman. In spite of a physical handicap, she always brought her best to the classroom. She never made excuses, never slacked off even if it was easy, and always gave every lesson and every student her best. She was a model of determination, effort, and positivity and probably, more than anyone else, made me see that good teaching is much more than memorizing standards or teaching long division
Identify an educator who has made a positive and significant impact on your life and your chosen career. Cite two or three qualities or attributes of that individual that make him or her stand out. Make it clear to the interviewer that these specific qualities are those you embrace and those you believe are essential to good teaching.