J. Round-Up Questions
What concerns you most about teaching?
A: I have a real passion for, a real interest in, and a real concern about quality teaching. I want to maintain that passion throughout my professional life. I want students to be equally passionate about learning—as excited as I am. I want them to experience all the joys I've had as a student. To learn a new technique or strategy and then see it work in a classroom situation is absolutely thrilling for me. I want to help students experience that same level of enthusiasm in their academic pursuits.
Don't misread this question. Although you are asked about your "concerns," don't make the mistake of thinking that the interviewer wants you to discuss a negative. Use this question as an opportunity to discuss a "positive"—something that all good teachers think about. Make sure your positive attitude shines through loud and clear.
What is the most exciting initiative happening in education today?
A: For me, the most exciting initiative is the emphasis on differentiated instruction. DI is a way of teaching that relies on a toolbox robust enough to provide different learning pathways to a wide range of learners. I cannot say, for example, "I taught it, so they must have gotten it." What is critical for me is knowing the essential curriculum and the individual learners; plus developing the wisdom to know which developmentally appropriate strategy to use with whom. The challenge for me is to learn, and to be able to use, a repertoire of strategies that will make a difference in each student's learning.
Talk to your former professors. Read the latest journals. Consult with area teachers.
Know what is happening in education today. And then show how you will address that initiative in your own classroom.
FROM THE PRINCIPAL'S DESK:
"If I ask 'Is there anything else you'd like to tell me?' I'm always impressed when a candidate—in two minutes or less—can effectively summarize the basic interview theme: matching his or her qualifications to my school's needs."
If, for one day, you were empowered to make one change to the education system, what would it be?
A: Money! I would make sure there would be sufficient money to fund local schools and educational efforts. I'm not sure if that funding would come from property taxes, income taxes, or some form of government intervention, but I would create a system or policy that would ensure that schools got the money they needed—and that they were given the discretionary power to spend that money in the ways they think most advantageous for students.
Three of the "headaches" principals wrestle with every year are dealing with the budget, the quality of teaching, and test scores. Address one of those issues, and you'll have the interviewer's attention and, ultimately, his or her support.
What characteristics make a master teacher?
A: I believe there are three qualities every outstanding teacher should have.
First, he or she should be a constant learner. Teachers should realize that education is as much about the journey as it is the destination. Continuous learning is an essential ingredient in every teacher's career. Second, they need to develop a positive partnership with their students, to create a classroom that is truly a "community of learners" that supports and encourages learners of every stripe both cognitively and affectively. And, third, a master teacher must be willing to admit mistakes. Teaching is never a perfect science, and we will all make some mistakes along the way. Good teachers—just like good students—learn from their mistakes to become stronger, better, and more accomplished. I believe I have those three qualities.
The interviewer wants to know if you are aware of the qualities of outstanding teachers and how well you match those qualities. From your answer, the interviewer must be confident that you are keenly aware of the expectations of teachers and that your skills and talents are in line with those abilities and/or philosophy. If you are not directly asked this question, it would be a good one to use as a wrap-up to the interview, particularly in response to a question like, "Is there anything else you would like to say or add to this interview?"
Never leave an interview without asking at least two to three questions of your own.