: What are you going to do for that kid who just "doesn't get it"?
A: Never give up! I believe that every child has the right to an education, and each and every child should be provided with educational opportunities that are geared to his or her needs, interests, and abilities. If there's one thing that the concept of differentiated instruction taught me, it's that through assessments and learning profiles I can provide tiered activities that will offer each child a measure of success. My challenge is to discover to what tier the child should be assigned and the best practice strategies that will offer him or her the greatest opportunities to succeed. But, most important, I will never give up on any child.
Here's a great opportunity to show your passion and desire to teach. Keep your response positive, and be sure to inject some current research or best practices into your answer.
: What are some strategies you plan on using to teach learning-disabled students?
A: I am aware that learning-disabled students will present me with some unique and distinctive challenges. Therefore, it is important for me to remember that LD students are not incapacitated or unable to learn; rather, they need differentiated instruction tailored to their distinctive learning abilities. Some of the strategies I plan to use include 1) providing learning- disabled students with frequent progress checks so that I can know how well they are progressing toward an individual or class goal and 2) giving immediate feedback to my learning-disabled students so they can see quickly the relationship between what was taught and what was learned. 3) Whenever possible, I need to make my activities concise and short. Long, drawn-out projects are particularly frustrating for a learning-disabled child. And 4) I know that learning-disabled children need and should get lots of multisensory experiences. A multisensory approach will help these students learn to the best of their abilities. I'm confident I can address the specific needs of the learning-disabled students in my classroom.
Here's another question that frequently arises in teacher interviews, for both elementary and secondary positions. This is another opportunity for you to show both a breadth and depth of knowledge about special-needs students. If you are "running neck and neck" with another candidate, your detailed and specific response to this question will always tip the scales in your favor.
: What are some teaching methods used in full inclusion classrooms?
A: I like the One Teach One Support method. Students sit in rows in front of the chalkboard. As the teacher, I would station myself off to the right or left of the students in order to provide extra help and support as needed. In this model, the participants are all following my instruction so that no child is excluded. I could also use Station Teaching. Using this method, my classroom would be divided into two, even three, different sections. One group of students would be situated facing horizontally toward the blackboard; the second would be arranged vertically facing the right wall. If a third group is present they would be arranged parallel to their vertically arranged classmates and will be turned to face the opposite wall or the front of the classroom. Students with special needs will be divided among these groups evenly. A third method I could use would be Parallel Teaching. In this case my classroom would be arranged so that students are split into two groups. These two groups would be placed back to back, with students from each group facing me. One group would face me in the front of the classroom, and the other group would face the special education teacher in the rear of the classroom. Students with special needs would be divided equally between these two groups and their classmates, making sure that one group doesn't contain all the special-needs students. Of course, these aren't the only options I could use, but they are some of the most effective in terms of a full inclusion classroom.
If the answer above sounds detailed and specific, that is intentional. If I was a betting person, I could almost guarantee you that you'll get a question (or two) regarding inclusion, especially if you are an elementary teacher. Take the time and make the effort to know everything you can about inclusion. Otherwise, it's lights out.. .for you!
: What are some of the challenges of inclusion?
A: Based on my experiences in student teaching as well as those I've had during my field experience requirements, I believe there are four primary challenges teachers need to be aware of. These would include 1) The danger of a two- system situation; that is, a clear and distinct separation between general and special education. 2) Another challenge for me is to make sure that there is complete accountability and a process in place to collect data objectively. 3) One of the biggest challenges would be to ensure that my expectations for special education students are not artificially low or, even worse, non-existent. And, finally, 4) I need to ensure, and convey, a philosophy that my general education classroom would be not be disrupted if and when special education students are included. I know these are not easy challenges to deal with, but every one of my students must achieve a measure of academic success.
See my explanatory note for Question 65. Read it, and heed it.
: How do you plan to individualize instruction?
A: The best way to understand individualized instruction is to look at how it is used in special education. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) provides the foundation for learning. Most IEPs are developed as a collaborative effort of students (when appropriate), teachers, parents, school administrators, and related-services personnel. Many schools are using IEPs with students who score below grade level on standardized tests. Some of the instructional strategies I plan on using to individualize instruction would include cooperative learning, journaling, peer tutoring, inquiry- based teaching, problem-based learning, "hands-on, minds-on" projects, simulations, and role playing.
It makes no difference if you are an elementary or a secondary teacher. Make sure you can address the concept of individualized instruction, particularly in terms of how you would implement it in your classroom.
FROM THE PRINCIPAL'S DESK:
"I'm most impressed with those candidates who maintain a student-centered focus during the entire interview."