For many teachers across the country, school has already started. In fact, the school I am interviewing for started three weeks ago. Interviewing for a new English teaching position can be equal parts scary and exciting. In this blog post, I go over how I prepare for interviews.
Yep, I have an interview for an English teacher position three weeks into the school year. And it’s so exciting!
So, How do you prep for an English teacher interview?
Honestly, before I even start I have to conquer my nerves. I give myself a pep talk and assure myself that I know my stuff. Studies have found that one of the biggest acts of self-sabotage before interviews is negative self-talk. We convince ourselves that there are people much better interviewing or pre-emptively believe our interview will be mediocre. A great way to combat negative self-talk is positive affirmations.
Going over positive affirmations is a great way to settle the shake in my voice when I’m excited or nervous. The specific ones I tell myself are:
- I am a professional with years of experience and education under my belt.
- I impress job interviewers with my mission to incorporate student choice.
- I have a passion for educating that makes me perfect for this position.
- I am calm and confident, job interviews are easy.
- I am an excellent candidate.
Do I believe these all the time? Nope, I am human. But repeating them to myself put me in the right mindset to sell my skills to potential employers.
Go over common interview questions
Many teaching questions can be found online. Below are some that always pop up in English interviews:
How would you handle a student who is disruptive or defiant?
I always start off by mentioning that the best plan is to create a classroom management plan that aims at dissuading disruptive behavior. I create a foundation of classroom management by building relationships with students through relational capacity building exercises. That way, if a student does become disruptive I have some basis for knowing who they are, what their background is, and I can approach the disruption from a position of empathy.
I would take the student to the side, have a discussion with them reminding them of our class norms, ask them if they are okay and how I can help them. If the behavior persists I would communicate about our hierarchy of communication, where students get a phone call home and then get on a behavior contract if the disruptions become chronic. It is important to me that students don’t feel like they are picked on, and that the classroom management process is respectful and mindful of students as people.
How do you create a sense of classroom community?
I answer this by calling back on my foundational work at the beginning of the year, and then give examples of strategies I use to continue the community. Like making sure not to shame students for being late and being happy when they come in the classroom. Or letting them know that we learn together. I also make an effort to mention how most of the curriculum I create for the school year surrounds the idea of student-choice and respect. I try to mention how my project-based learning looks to show students that they are change-makers and they should use their voices for the betterment of their school community.
How do you accommodate learners of all levels?
I love this question. When I answer it, I mention how my teaching practice includes hands on activities, like gallery walks and learning stations, where students can collaborate and use peer supports as built in accommodations. I usually say that I consult with the special education teacher or case manager on the students file for ideas on how to accommodate the student if I need additional help. I don’t ever make lessons easier, but I try to deliver them in a way that is rigorous for all with built in supports.
How do you accommodate ELL learners?
Being a bilingual teacher puts me in the unique position of being able to communicate with students who may speak Spanish, so that works in my favor. But when I have students who may not speak Spanish, I provide them with dual language dictionaries, incorporate visual activities into my lessons to allow for those connections, build in collaborative work so that students can look to peers for assistance, provide sentence frames, and consult with the ELL teacher to make sure I am doing my best to help teach my learners.
Do you use project-based learning or collaborative activities in your practice?
Duh. Well, I don’t answer like that. I definitely do project-based learning. My projects surround the idea that students are change makers and have a voice in society. Connecting these big ideas to classic texts, like social justice in Kim Johnson’s This is My America, allow students to see that concepts are interdisciplinary and extend beyond the news.
How do you integrate technology?
Google Classroom is my jam. In recent years, and due to the nature of the world at this moment, technology has become an integral part of my practice. As a floating teacher, I strived to digitize nearly everything I did and transfer it into Google classroom. It was the most convenient solution when I couldn’t count on having my own space.
In addition to Google Classroom, I use tools like Common Lit and create both digital and print versions of most of my lessons. Even my learning stations are optimized to be used in a virtual classroom. I also embrace the fact that students are super connected to technology. I incorporate activities that use things like TikTok videos and Twitter Feuds into my practice to help engage students and connect with them using a medium they enjoy.
What do you consider to be your strengths as a teacher?
I believe personally my strength is that I am passionate about teaching and consider myself as much of a learner as my students. I don’t think I know everything, and if students ask me something I don’t know, I tell them as much and that I will research it and get back to them. In that same vein, if I am unfamiliar with a concept when talking with my team or department, I will make it known and ask questions.
What do you consider to be your weaknesses as a teacher?
Someone might look at my resume and figure out I only have on year of teaching a rostered class (while I have years of subbing experience and curriculum designing experience). So I respond that my biggest weakness is a lack of experience with rostered classes.
I give my personal reasons, like having moving for my husband’s job and then having a baby during the pandemic soon after as being my reasons for not teaching. But I realize that this lack of experience can be a weakness. To make up for it, I have kept myself in the education space so that I can keep my skills fresh, like designing English language arts curriculum and continuing my education with my Doctoral work.
What questions do you have for us?
This is a great moment to remember that an interview is as much about interviewing them to see if you will like being at that school. Take this as an opportunity to ask what the school culture is, how administrator’s support teachers, how they convey a sense of community with students, or even what the ideal candidate for the position would be like.
Research the School
This one you might end up doing out of curiosity, I know I do. Researching the school gives you an idea of school size, values, and initiatives. For example, if the school values technology skills or is pushing for teachers who will implement project-based learning.
Make a list of questions I would like to know about
This calls back to the interview questions. It pops up near the end usually, and I use that time to ask questions I genuinely want to know about. Before I accept a position, I want to know that administrators strive to stay in touch with their teaching roots, that they support both their teachers and their students,
All in all, i trust myself
At the end of the day, if I do well, I congratulate myself for a job well done. If I don’t, I reflect and try to work out why I feel like it went badly. All in all, I know I am a great educator, and my worth as a teacher is not based on the outcomes of an interview.
How do you prep for interviews? Let me know in the comments down below.