Monday, 14 April 2014

Teacher Interview Questions

One of the most important roles of the principal is to support and improve the professional learning culture at the school.  When a teaching vacancy emerges and a posting is created, it is an opportunity to add a new face, and hopefully, a professional, collaborative and innovative educator who will help the school grow.  In a healthy school, new staff members are welcomed and their voice adds different ideas and ways of being that colleagues are curious to hear.  In a stagnant organization, people may be wary of the new person or expect them to adapt or 'fall in line' with the established school way.  

Like all employers, we are interested in hiring talented and dedicated people. Following the detailed language of collective agreements is important and it can be limiting; however, each posting is a chance to read applications and resumes, contact references and meet with people interested in joining our school community.    We are looking for professional and reflective educators who are always learning and improving their craft.  I am also looking for passionate, caring people who love their work and understand that their primary role is to connect with students in meaningful ways and help them learn.  People who have energy and genuinely believe they can inspire and engage students and be a positive contributor to the school. 

Interviewing is an art as hearing what people say while listening intently to what they really mean is subjective and intuitive.  I have always tried to put candidates at ease as I sincerely want them to “wow me”.  Borrowing a page from Johnny Bevacqua (and Chris Kennedy who wrote about what his district is looking for when hiring vice principals and principals), I am posting my interview questions online to allow teachers an opportunity to think about them before the interview.  Like all good assessment practices, we hope to give candidates every opportunity to demonstrate what they know (and believe) - we may not ask all of these, but there will be no surprise or trick questions.

In considering the following questions, please feel encouraged to demonstrate, describe specific examples or bring in and show us paper or digital exemplars in supporting your answers, whenever possible.  

Welcome and thank you for meeting with us.  Please tell us about yourself and how your life’s journey led you to becoming a teacher.

Is your role to "teach" or to "help students learn"?  Please explain.

“School is boring.”  “Why are we doing this?”  or “When will I ever use this?” are concerns expressed by secondary students.  In a rapidly changing world, please explain how you make learning relevant, interesting and engaging for students.

Having read our school’s assessment guidelines, please describe how you use assessment to inform your practice and provide feedback to help students learn and succeed. 

If a fundamental principle of learning is that students learn in a variety of ways and at different rates, describe how you have, or how you intend to engage and support the diverse group of learners that will be in your classes. 

If a student or group of students are not learning or achieving learning outcomes in your class, how will you respond?

We believe that effective teachers are learners and collaborators.  Please describe what professional learning you are engaged in.   Please explain how you have worked with or learned from colleagues to improve your professional practice.

Describe how you are an innovative teacher.  Explain something you have recently added or tried in your professional practice and what you learned from the experience.

Technology is a part of life for our students.  Describe how you use technology in your professional practice to augment or transform learning, and to help students create, collaborate or be more engaged?

What is your role in motivating, inspiring and mentoring all learners?  Please describe how you will connect with and build confidence in your students.

Students at our school have a wide variety of interests and passions and we strive to provide a multitude of experiences for them to be connected, both inside and outside of the classroom.  Explain why you believe this is an important feature in a healthy school.  Describe how you will contribute to our students’ lives in a positive way.

We strive to nourish an ethos of “care and respect” at our school, every day and in every interaction.  Please describe what this means to you and how you intend to contribute to these core values.

Parents are the first educators of their children.  Describe how you actively include and engage the parents of secondary school students.

Our school has published our mission, our core values and our vision.  Please describe how this document would influence your practice at our school.

Thinking of teachers you know, have worked with or perhaps those who have taught you, please describe the attributes of an “outstanding teacher”.  Comment on where you are on your journey to becoming outstanding.

If I were to ask your current or former students, what adjectives would they use to describe you as a teacher?  How do you invite feedback from students on your courses and teaching practices?

We are very interested in continuing our journey to becoming an exemplary secondary school.  Please describe the characteristics of an “outstanding school” and, as a teacher, describe your role in contributing to that ideal.

Finally, do you have any questions for us?

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