Why should I consider you for the position?
A: Three reasons: One, I have an extensive array of experiences in working with children. Besides my student teaching experience, I have been a regular volunteer in the public library's after-school program, a counselor at the local Boys Club, and a summer intern at Bay City Children's Home. Two, I'm a team player. I enjoy working as a contributing member of a team, sharing creative ideas, and considering the ideas of others. I see a school much like a professional football team—we are all geared to a single goal, and that goal can only be reached when we all work together in harmony. Three, I'm excited about teaching and kids. I've wanted to be a teacher ever since fourth grade, and I want my own students to experience the joy of discovery and the thrill of self-investigation I have in my own education. Oh, and one more thing: I'm a fun person to work with!
Don't hedge your bets on this question. Provide the interviewer with three specific traits or abilities that stand out in your resume and that you can express with desire and conviction. Be sure to share ideas that go above and beyond the usual job qualifications. Before crafting your own personal response to this query, please go back and re-read Chapter 6.
What do you think is the most difficult aspect of being a teacher?
A: Patience. One of the toughest lessons I learned is that change does not come about overnight. Just because I put together a dynamite lesson plan doesn't necessarily mean that every student will "get it" the first time around. Just because I make a sincere effort to involve parents in the affairs of my class doesn't mean that every parent will come on board. And just because I reprimand a student for some inappropriate behavior doesn't mean that he will change right away. I have to keep in mind that good teaching, like gardening, involves a large measure of patience. A gardener doesn't expect all his or her seeds to sprout at the same time; neither should a good teacher. I think that if I can keep that concept in mind then I'll be successful in this profession.
Here's an opportunity for a large dose of humility and an equally large dose of reality. Show that you've done some self-evaluation, and demonstrate that you've learned something in the process. You'll win a lot of fans that way.
What things about yourself would you like to bring out that have not yet been discussed in the interview?
A: I have always lived by a simple motto: The best teachers have as much to learn as they do to teach! No matter where I am in my teaching career, I can always learn something more, master something more, and improve something more. I have long realized that my teacher education does not end when I graduate from college. In fact, that's when it begins.
As teachers, we have a multitude of responsibilities throughout our careers. One of the most important, I believe, is our own education. While we may be committed to the educational advancement of our students, we should be no less committed to our own lifelong improvement as a teacher. Education, for me, is an ongoing process rather than a final product.
Want to leave the interviewer with a good impression and be eager to have you sign a contract? Want to let an interviewer know that you are the one and only person he or she should hire? Then re-read the response above. By this point in the book you'll know why it's a good one.
FROM THE PRINCIPAL'S DESK:
"The best interview was when I was with a woman who could only talk about kids she had worked with in the past. She was able to describe the students, their parents, and academic abilities in great detail. Her love and joy came across so clearly as she 'teared up' when speaking of one of her students who was experiencing a crisis in his home and when she laughed with elation as she spoke of another student who went from a below-basic non-reader to a student who started discussing books he was reading over a pizza lunch with her."