You come out of your interview, and you know you did great. You nailed all the answers to the questions. But a few weeks later, you find out that you didn’t get the job. You don’t know how that happened.
When interviewing for a Texas teachers position, administrators aren’t just looking for answers to those interview questions, they are looking for the best answers to those questions. They want answers that show them that you are prepared and understand what your purpose is as a teacher.
There are some very specific things that you need to be aware of to ace your interview and improve your interview success rate.
Here are five tips to land your first job.
Tip #1 - Be Prepared for Your Interview
This should go without saying, but nothing will stand in the way of you landing your dream job more than being unprepared for your interviews. Preparation is the key. There are several steps that you can take prior to meeting with a principal or administrator for a sit down, including:
Developing a strong resume
Prep yourself for potential interview questions and scenarios
Educate yourself by developing industry appropriate vocabulary
Do some research on the schools and districts where you have applied
Do the same type of research on the people with whom you are scheduled to interview with
Expect that your first interview will be a practice run, then use that experience to prepare for the next one. Build a case for your candidacy every step of the way, from the online application through your demonstration of content mastery and management skills during the interview, and you will stand a much greater chance of landing that dream position that you are looking for.
Tip #2 - Place the Focus on Your Students
I knew a high school administrator that used to start every interview with the same question:
What do you teach?
Most secondary teachers are subject specific, so they would give the obvious answer, such as "I teach Math" or "I teach English.”
The correct answer?
"I TEACH CHILDREN!”
If you are called to teach, then you should be prepared to teach students, not content. As a matter of fact, there is a long list of things that you need to check off, before you can effectively address content. Such as:
Your students need to feel safe in your classroom
They need to have their physiological needs (such as hunger) met before they can learn
They need to have enough respect for you to listen to what you have to teach them
In other words, until you focus on the student, they won't focus on the content. Until a principal knows that you understand this concept, your knowledge of the content is irrelevant to them.
Here is an example of a teacher that has a great understanding of this concept.
Do you think his kids are ready to learn from him?
Tip #3 – Prepare a Lesson in Advance
Knowing your content is great, but knowing HOW TO TEACH your content is even better. Demonstrate both!
Many people think that since they are natural teachers, all they need is a good grasp of the content and the rest will fall into place.
That's great, until a principal asks you a question like "Describe for me your most creative lesson idea."
I got that question in my very first interview, and I am thankful that ECAP had just gone over lesson planning the day before in my Texas teacher certification training. I actually modified an idea that one of our trainers used, and it helped me land my first job. If I hadn't just gone through the process of developing a lesson, I am quite certain I would have bombed the interview.
It’s important that you develop a creative, entertaining lesson before sitting for an interview.
To do this, go online and find creative lessons in your area of content specialty. Teachers share everything and you'll find more than you need for free, online.
Research a couple of lesson planning models and get a feeling for all the steps. Here's a hint...most models have the same elements, but they label them differently. Learn some of those concepts and develop an example lesson.
Stay away from lecture-based lessons and always lean toward student participation. The students, not the teacher, need to be on stage if possible.
Tip #4 – Be Prepared to Demonstrate Your Ability to Manage People (Students)
I once had a teacher that was what I would call a 'burnout'. This man would go through the motions every day, putting assignments on the board, lecturing and carrying on as if we (the students) were listening.
He really didn't seem to care if we were there or not. It was obvious to all of us that he was just drawing a paycheck. His class was extremely boring and we learned that all we had to do to get out of his class was misbehave. He would send us to the office.
This sounds like a bad thing, but in this case the office was so used to getting his students that they no longer took his referrals seriously. Administration would either use us as office assistants during that period, or we would get to roam campus as long as we didn't cause trouble.
In today's environment,that teacher would have been non-renewed, because he did not manage his classroom. If your first reaction to bad behavior is to refer the problem to someone else, then you should reconsider becoming a teacher.
The greatest challenge that teachers face on a daily basis is keeping students focused
When a teacher loses student focus, the result is off-task behavior.
Today's administrators do not have time to manage your classroom, and if they do, then they don't really need you.
You need to understand how to use procedures (not rules) to manage a classroom. You need to understand the effective use of environment (lighting, sound, seat arrangement, teacher presence) for classroom management. You need to have tricks up your sleeve to redirect off-task behavior and have a grasp on the creative use of consequences to affect behavior.
If you have no idea of these concepts, don't go into an interview yet.
Once you read these, you'll either have more confidence for your interviews or you will have decided that teaching is not for you.
Tip #5 - Be A Team Player
As an ECAP consultant, I get to monitor the performance of several hundred new teachers each year. And each year, I especially focus on those who are having problems. While classroom management tends to be the biggest issue for new teachers, a close second would be simple employee performance and attitude outside the classroom.
Principals do not want to play mediator all the time.
They want employees with a desire to please that do not bring drama into the mix. You need to turn things in on time, communicate in a timely and effective manner, and be willing to help your teammates.
Find a way to demonstrate this during your interview.
Ask the interviewer what their expectations are. This shows them you want to be a team player and open to do things their way.
Follow these five tips and you will be well on your way to landing your first job as a Texas teacher.
Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. A great alternative certification program will not only prepare you to ace your interview and get the job, but be ready when you step in the classroom.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank.
In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.
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