It happens every year: the end of the school year is around the corner and some teachers will be considering a change in their career and move to another school district or perhaps a private school. You may no longer feel satisfied with your current position, are seeking a higher salary, or simply want a new environment. Of course, the grass is not always greener on the other side of town, across the city, or at the private school you pass on your way to work each day. However, if you are planning on switching to a new school, you must prepare yourself for the interview. The following tips may help in your quest for a new environment.
First, if you have already decided you will be seeking a new position, decide if it will be related to your current position – will you be teaching the same grade level or subject area? If so, then you will most likely be better prepared than other candidates who are either new applicants or those making a change in their careers. If not, you may need to do some research about the new position. For example, you may now be teaching in a third-grade self-contained classroom, but you might be hoping to become a specialist for an upper elementary grade level. You must also thoroughly research the new school by becoming familiar with the academics, curriculum, extra-curricular activities, student profiles, and more. Visit the school’s website to find out as much about the culture and programs the school has to offer.
Next, identify the advantages and disadvantages of the new position. How will it compare to your current position? Will there be more responsibilities? Will you be expected to cooperate with a team of teachers? How many students will you be responsible for? Of course, there are many other things to consider, but the point is this: Will you be prepared to make the change?
Next, you will need to interview for the new position. Your last interview may have been five or twenty-five years ago, and some questions have not changed, but you must be prepared for the interview process. This includes refreshing your resume, cover letter, and the other necessary documents, which likely will need to be sent ahead of time via email or a district or school website. In addition, you must decide what references you will use. It is likely you could use current colleagues, but if you are applying without your current school’s knowledge, then you may not wish to use a supervisor’s name until later in the hiring process.
Now that you have done all the pre-planning, it is time to prepare yourself for the interview itself. New applicants may be interviewed by a single supervisor or a panel which may include the principal, administrative staff, teachers, and, in some case, parents. Many private, non-public schools allow parents to be a part of the interview process for new teachers. You may need to interview with a committee before moving onto a formal interview with the school’s human resources department.
Interview questions often will fit in one of a few categories: Questions about you as a teacher, you as a learner, as part of a teaching team, and questions directly related to students and parents.
Example Questions About You as a Teacher:
- What motivated you to choose our school or district to continue your career?
- Why did you become a teacher?
- What is your teaching philosophy?
- What type of classroom management strategies do you use?
- How will you use technology in the classroom? How have you used technology in the past?
Example Questions About You as a Learner:
- What continuing education classes or workshops have you attended in the past few years?
- How do you stay updated on new trends in learning or pedagogy?
Example Question About You as Part of the Teaching Team/Community:
- Have you ever worked closely with other teachers to help your students? Give examples.
- What interest do you have in leading extra-curricular activities?
- Do you have a passion that would be of interest to our students as an afterschool activity?
Example Questions Related to Students and Parents:
- How would you deal with a student who is reluctant to learn and becomes disruptive?
- How would you engage students who are easily bored in a classroom?
- What would you say to an angry parent who confronts you in public about their child’s grade?
- How do you deal with bullying?
The above is just a small sample of questions that may be asked by an interviewer or a panel, and it is only limited to the imagination of the person asking the questions. For a panel interview, the questions asked by a parent may be much different than those asked by a principal or administrator. There are a wide range of resources on the Internet to help you prepare for interviews especially if you have not had the experience in the past several years.
In many cases, you may also be asked to teach a mini-lesson to a group of students, parents, and/or teachers from the school where you will need to demonstrate your teaching skills. You will likely be informed ahead of time if required to present a lesson, and yes, it is appropriate to ask what “grade-level” you will be teaching prior to the demonstration.
Finally, prepare some of your own well-thought-out questions to ask the interviewer or panel. This shows that you have a sincere and enthusiastic interest in the school and the position. Questions may include learning more about your role, the school, the students, or the district.
In summary, you first need to decide if you truly want a change of environment and a new teaching position and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of changing schools. Ask yourself questions, talk to colleagues, reflect on what the new position will entail, and ask yourself if you will be happier leaving your current position, friends, and other amenities the school offers you. Once you’ve made that decision, prepare, prepare, prepare for the interview and hiring process! Use our tips and you should be well on your way to a new position in no time.