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Exude confidence.

Never think you are a "second-class" teacher because you're older than most of your classmates. Walk into an interview with your head held high, your feet firmly on the floor, and an attitude that says, "I'm just as good as (if not better than) any 22-year-old candidate!" This is not the time to play the shy, retiring individual. Show your confidence in every response to an interview question and in every experience you bring to the interview table. That confidence, in concert with your maturity, will convince any principal that you "have the goods" to be an excellent classroom teacher.

Show your passion.

Let the interviewer know and feel your passion—for children, for teaching, for learning, and (most of all) for life.

Demonstrate how your life skills transfer into the classroom.

You've traveled to a foreign country; show how that experience will help you be a better teacher of social studies. You've managed a family budget; show how that will help you teach practical applications of the math curriculum. You've cooked countless dinners; show how that will transfer to the science program and the promotion of inquiry-based science. You've tended to all manner of family illnesses, diseases, and sicknesses; show how that experience results in a thorough understanding of health. You've written diary entries, notes to school, and letters to friends; show how that relates to good communication and language arts skills. You are a voracious reader of both fiction and non-fiction; show how that will help you promote reading as a lifelong experience for students.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here's the key: Look at the elementary or secondary curriculum, and make matches between the subject matter and the wide array of life experiences you've had. Be sure to share those matches in the interview.

Highlight your maturity.

While it is illegal for an interviewer to ask about your age, you should share several examples of how your maturity will be an asset to your success as a classroom teacher:

"Having raised three children to school age, I am keenly aware of how much psychology plays in the intellectual growth and development of youngsters."

"I was the executive secretary at a large business for 14 years. I have a good grasp of time management and can prioritize my work load with considerable ease."

"As the leader of a Sunday School class for the past eight years, I know how to motivate children through a 'hands-on, minds-on' curriculum."

"My volunteer work at the Salvation Army over the past decade has prepared me to deal with all kinds of people from all kinds of social situations."

Your maturity (okay, your age) is a definite "positive." Demonstrate how all that experience will transfer into an elementary or secondary classroom, and you will literally soar above the competition.

Be current.

Stay up to date on all the latest educational theories, practices, and issues. Know as much (if not more) than your younger classmates on the educational topics of the day. Try these helpful ideas:

Access the Internet to learn what teachers are talking about, what concerns they have about teaching, and how they are solving their issues and problems.

Join a listserv or a blog, and engage in an active dialogue with other teachers around the country.

Read every educational periodical you can get your hands on, and discover what is going on locally, regionally, and nationally regarding education.

Attend as many local or regional education conferences as you can, watch which sessions have the highest attendance, and find out more about those topics.

Form an ad hoc group of other nontraditional students to explore various educational concerns and share them in a monthly meeting, group newsletter, or blog.

Informally interview several principals (how about the principal at your child's school?) to learn about some of their concerns and challenges.

 
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