Interviewing for a new teaching position can be stressful. Whether you’re a veteran teacher with years of experience or fresh out of college, it’s always good to thoroughly prepare for an upcoming interview so you know what to expect.
One of the best things you can do to get a leg up on your competition is to practice your answers to the most common interview questions. The most popular ones are about your classroom management style. For example, how do you handle different classroom scenarios? What are your systems for rewards and consequences? How does your educational philosophy reveal itself in your classroom management style?
Don’t run from your interview just yet! Let’s look at the different classroom management strategies then help prepare you for that interview you’re sure to ace!
7 best practices in classroom management
It’s always a good idea to brush up on some tried-and-true teaching methods. Classrooms that are successfully managed share many common qualities that can help you hone your craft as a teacher. Better yet, mentioning a few of these best practices in your interview can show that you know your way around a classroom.
1. Reduce the frequency of undesired behaviors
The famous Benjamin Franklin quote that “[a]n ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to classroom management as well. If you can prevent behavioral issues from arising in the first place, your classroom will run more smoothly and with fewer interventions. Instead of putting out fires all the time, set up a classroom where there’s no oxygen to feed the flame. This is the ultimate key to successful classroom management.
2. Keep students engaged
If students are engaged in their learning, they’ll be more likely to stay on task instead of bothering their peers, causing distractions, or acting out in other ways. Whenever possible, get students moving during a lesson. Students are more likely to focus if they’re physically involved in the learning process.
Use a variety of teaching methods. When you mix things up in the classroom, your students are more likely to find a learning method that works for them. Adding options that involve art, technology, partner work, writing, music, and more can give students more choice in the learning process, increase their focus, and decrease the likelihood of disruptive behaviors manifesting in your classroom.
3. Create open communication with parents
Inform parents about your expectations at the start of the school year. When problems arise, let parents know immediately. But also keep them in the loop on any notable improvements you notice. When parents are aware of what’s going on in your classroom and how their children are performing, they can sometimes help support positive behavioral changes.
4. Help students feel respected
Create an environment where students feel respected by both you and their peers. In turn, your students will show more respect to others. To this end, teachers often let students have some say in the running of the classroom will be run. Students and teachers work together to come up with a class contract that all students (and parents) will sign. By letting students have a say in the classroom functions, you ensure that students feel valued and respected. And students who feel respected are less likely to cause classroom management issues.
5. Be consistent
Successful classroom management depends on consistency — students expect that teachers will follow through on what they say in terms of rewards and consequences for behavior. If a student misbehaves, the teacher needs to apply any previously determined consequences. A student can be rewarded when they do well. But don’t compromise your expectations and to frequently make exceptions — if you don’t manage your class consistently, your students will do whatever they please, knowing that you won’t react to any misbehavior.
6. Have some flexibility
Teachers have to be consistent, but they must also realize that we’re all human. There’s a small amount of flexibility that teachers should use in classroom management at their discretion.
In extreme situations, you can make exceptions to the classroom rules. For example, if a student had to spend the night at the hospital for a medical emergency, it’s obviously acceptable (and expected) to extend any short-term deadlines for their homework. Or if a student has a family crisis that they’ve informed you about, perhaps they can get an extension on a project or work alone rather than in a group.
Being a little flexible in these kinds of circumstances can show students that you genuinely care about them and aren’t just a stern face in a classroom — you’re human and can sympathize with the problems they’re facing.
7. Strategically arrange your physical classroom space
How your classroom is set up can have a big impact on the success of your management strategies. Teachers need to put a lot of thought into where each student will sit and how to arrange desks. Deciding when it’s appropriate for students to choose their own groups or partners can also help give students some choice and responsibility. Assigning seats strategically can often help manage some undesired classroom behaviors, such as excessive talking among friends.
4 tips to be ready for your interview process
In addition to brushing up on your responses to common classroom management questions, it also helps to prepare for the job interview in other ways. Here are a few helpful hints to get you ready for your big day.
1. Know your teaching philosophy
Your teaching philosophy is definitely going to be addressed in an interview. It’s crucial that you be able to clearly state how you teach and why you teach the way you do. It’s also important to be able to offer examples of how you can see this philosophy come to life in your classroom. Be prepared to link your classroom management style to your teaching philosophy.
2. Research the school
This one goes without saying, but be sure to research the prospective school. Do they have a special mission that you could talk about when the opportunity to do so presents itself? Do they have a PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and supports) program in place already that you could discuss? Once you have some information about their methods, you can mention how your classroom management methods align with their school-wide efforts.
3. Prepare a portfolio
Bring plenty of work samples to show what you’ve accomplished in your classroom in the past. Pictures, newsletters, student work, emails (with permission), and unit plans can all be good artifacts to demonstrate your teaching, communication, and organization skills.
4. Be ready to answer more general questions
In addition to questions about your classroom management methods and your teaching philosophy, there are some more general questions that are commonly asked in the interview process. Be ready to answer questions such as:
- Why do you want to be a teacher?
- Why do you want to teach at this particular school?
- What other training or continuing education opportunities have you completed?
- What are some ways in which you’ve worked well with others?
- What are your technology skills?
By preparing for common questions like these ahead of time, you can be less stressed and more confident during the interview.
Don’t worry — you’ll do just fine!
Interviewing for a teaching job can be a daunting task, but it’s clearly easier with some thoughtful preparation. Your classroom management methodology is going to be discussed, as is your teaching philosophy. Rehearsing your responses to these questions can give you an advantage in your quest to find that teaching position you’ve always wanted.
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