E. Student-Centered Questions
What do you enjoy most about working with young people?
A: I particularly enjoy their natural sense of curiosity—the way they ask
questions, pose problems, and look at the world. One of the most powerful books I read recently was Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. In that book, he talks about how nature can help foster a lifelong inquisitiveness in children. Simply by taking kids on walks, exposing them to the natural flora and fauna of their neighborhoods, and stimulating them to question the world they live in, we can help students maintain their curiosity about things around them. I want to foster and stimulate that innate sense of curiosity through an inquiry-based curriculum that supports and enhances the questions children constantly seek answers for.
Here's another question where your passion for teaching will come through, either loud and clear or soft and indistinct. Let the interviewer know you are in it for the kids—and not for anything else.
What would you do with a student who has ADHD?
A: ADHD students comprise about 3 to 5 percent of the school-age population. These are usually students who have difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, impulse control, emotional stability, or a combination of several of those factors. Some of the techniques and procedures I would use in working with these students would include 1) Making my instructions brief and clear and teaching one step at a time; 2) Carefully monitoring work, especially when students move from one activity to another; 3) Adjusting work time so it matches attention spans; 4) Providing a quiet work area where students can move for better concentration; 5) Combining both visual and auditory information when giving directions; and 6) Whenever possible, breaking an assignment into manageable segments.
Students with ADHD offer significant and often perplexing challenges for many beginning teachers. Any administrator will want to know—given the number of ADHD students in his or her school—how you plan to teach this population of children. After all, there may be as many as 35 million children in the United States under the age of 18 with ADHD. Therefore, ADHD students will be in your classroom, and you need to know how to teach them.
What can you tell me about inclusion?
A: The idea that special-needs children, whenever and wherever possible, should be included in all activities and functions of the regular classroom, is known as inclusion. It is common, therefore, to find many classrooms with students of all ability levels working and learning together. For me, inclusion also means that students of all abilities, talents, and skills are offered learning opportunities that can occur between and among different individuals. I believe that inclusion is the total involvement of all students in an educational setting that best meets their needs, regardless of background or level of ability. It also means that I need to include my special-needs students in regular classroom activities to the fullest extent possible.
You will be asked a question about inclusion! No ifs, ands, or buts! Review your notes, read a course textbook, talk with teachers—but make sure you know this topic inside and out. In today's diverse classrooms, you will be expected to provide for the needs of every student; a principal wants assurance that you are aware of this expectation and that you can deliver the goods.
How would you differentiate your instruction to meet the needs of your diverse learners?
A: During my student teaching experience I had the opportunity to work with several special-needs students. I quickly learned that there are some generalized strategies that I always need to keep in mind. These would include 1) Being aware that special-needs students may not want to be singled out for any special treatment. To do so may identify their disability for other students. 2) I need to consider learning over a long period of time. I realize that special-needs students may require extended periods of time to master a concept or learn a specific skill. 3) I need to be especially careful not to fall into the trap of focusing on the weaknesses of special-needs students. It's vitally important that I seek to identify the individual strengths of each student. And 4) I want to provide opportunities for students of all abilities to learn from each other. I want to be sure that everyone feels like he or she is contributing. I know that all that is a tough order, but I'm eager for the challenge.
Be sure you demonstrate your knowledge of special-needs students, their instructional needs, and your willingness to teach them. Always convey an aura of "positiveness" and enthusiasm in responding to this question. Demonstrate that you are eager for both the challenge and the opportunity.
It's always appropriate to talk about a setback or disappointment you've had in working with students. But it's even more important to show how the experience made you a much better teacher today.