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Preparing Today For That Interview Tomorrow!

April 05, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 168

Last week I spent some time in the Denver area, and while there took a moment to drop in on the University of Colorado, Boulder. As I was enjoying all of the sights and shops on Pearl Street (someplace you should put on your "bucket list" if you've never been there), I ran into a young lady who was just doing her student teaching. We had talked for a bit about the job market when she asked me, " there something in particular I should be doing now to be ready for the job market?" Well, actually there are a number of things you can do, and we chatted about them quite at length. I will share a bit of our conversation with you right now.

You might be someone who is still in college and about to undertake student teaching. Or, you might be someone coming from an alternate route and engaged in substitute teaching. Or, you might even be a current teacher planning for a new position in a different district. Whatever your current circumstance, you should use your time now to prepare for the future. Here are a few ideas that will surely give you an advantage when you attend those coming interviews.

Maintain a running journal that details significant events. If you have not already been doing this, go buy a journal and write down important ideas or experiences that take place. For example, if you observed or were involved in a difficult classroom management situation, log what happened, what was done, and the outcome. In reflection, were there things you might have done differently? Catalog successful activities or lesson ideas. Cite staff development programs in which you participated along with something you learned and later used in class. If you had parent conferences or interactions, make notes as to what happened. You will be amazed at how many things take place in your daily teaching that can be used in answers to future interview questions. But, write them down as they occur because they are easily forgotten.

Conduct a student evaluation and feedback session. Something that is certain to be of interest to any interview committee is just how students responded to your teaching efforts. Your ability to speak to this question in clear, objective, and tangible terms will give you a substantial edge over other candidates who are just guessing or speaking in generalities. Now; there is a way to structure this student evaluation that will give you what you need, so pay attention. First, ask a general question that requires students to identify the things about your class that they enjoyed. Second, ask a question that asks students to cite anything you did that significantly helped them to learn what was being taught. Third, was there anything students wish had been done or that you might have added to have made the class more interesting or better. (You need this last question because interviewers often ask what it is you might want to work on in the future.) But here is the most important advice I can give you on this task: you must "seed the pot."

For example, on the first question asking students about what they enjoyed, throw a few things on the board for them to consider. You can say, "Just to remind you of some of the things I've heard from you over our time together, here are a few on the board. You can add your own if you like." Then list things like special events, activities, speakers, videos, field trips, stories you told, and so on. Do the same thing for the second question by listing ideas that helped them learn. You can provide such things as special help sessions, learning centers, study guides, or anything you did to aid in student success. These memory jogs will insure that the students provide something worthwhile for use later. Yes, yes, yes. I'm aware that somebody, somewhere is likely to say this is some form of cheating.

Well, here is my answer. Too bad! Let me tell you the first rule regarding interview competition.

RULE 1: There are no rules! OK? Once you have these feedback forms, keep them in a safe place. When you are putting your interview portfolio together, be certain to include a couple for the committee to see. Even if you are not able to show a portfolio, you are sure to find several places during the interview where this information can be included to make your answer more powerful than the other candidate's.

Take pictures in your class. Absolutely!! But, don't take just bland snapshots of your bulletin boards and classroom. Be sure to include students and people in all of your pictures. Committees are interested in the work of your students, so show them photos where they are engaged in "happy activities." Put pictures in where students are working in groups. Include shots of outdoor activities if you have them. Were parents ever in class to observe or participate in a special event? Take pictures. When you are building your portfolio, these can be used to highlight and underscore the kinds of exciting classroom activities that took place under your direction. Such visuals can be extraordinarily powerful if you use them in the right way!

As you can see, here are just three simple things you can do right now that will give you significant advantages during a future interview. Others will show up to their meeting with the committee empty-handed and nothing but what they can recall. You will have the kinds of material to make you one of most feared interview warriors in the entire candidate pool. Get started today, and reap the dividends tomorrow!!

My name is Robert W. Pollock. I am an educator, with over 34 years experience, a speaker, a consultant, and the author of 'Teacher Interviews. How to Get Them & How to Get Hired!. I have spoken to 1,000's of prospective teachers on how to interview and get the job. I have consulted with numerous schools around the country. Currently I am a professor of Education at Tusculum College, Knoxville, TN, where I also serve as the president of their alumni board.

Order my book "Teacher Interviews: How to Get Them & How to Get Hired!" at:

Email me at:

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