Sunday, 28 April 2013

Interview Question Prep

     A few days ago I posted that there were two jobs being posted at "S-School" and I am so happy to say that I received an interview! On Monday at 9am I will be sitting down with the division superintendent, principal and a school board member to officially interview for the positions. To prepare I've tried to pick some top questions that I feel will help me answer questions effectively. To do so I've:
- Gone through the information from my university classes
- Searched online
- Asked my PLN on Twitter/Facebook/etc
- Taken information from our universities career fair
- Reviewed information from "S-School" staff meetings
- Visited the division website
Here are the questions I've prepared for:

1 ) What are three words that best describe who you are as a teacher? What are three words that do not describe you?
Three Words That Describe Me:
1 ) Caring
2 ) Organized
3 ) Flexible
Three Words That Do Not Describe Me:
1 ) Disengaged
2 ) Traditional
3 ) Solitary

2 ) How do students describe you?
If I were asked this question I would direct them to my professional portfolio which has a dedicated section for "Student Opinions". On this page I have actual student reviews that were completed by my students during my various student teaching placements.

3 ) What do you know about our school/division goals?
"S-School's" school-wide goals this year are:
A ) Teachers will incorporate Aboriginal perspective into their lessons
     at least three times a year.
- During my time at "S-School" I have taught an entire unit on Indigenous
  Peoples in the World Issues class as well a section on Indigenous
  perspective on Natural Resources in the Geography class.
- Some of our activities have included creation story comparisons, creating
  a collaborative Traditional Seven Teachings poster, having an elder from
  TRCM visit our class, Idle No More research projects, and much more.
B ) Teachers will organize 15 grade mentoring activities throughout the year.
- I have organized a collaborative project between the Grade 8 and Grade 4
  class in which they created posters about what respect looks like in their
- My Grade 11/12 Agriculture class visited the Grade 7 Social Studies class
  to teach them about the ecological event, the Dust Bowl. The class had been
  learning about the Great Depression so it was a good opportunity to see the
  agricultural impact as well as the economical impact.
C ) Teachers will plan student events to build community.
- During the "Grade Wars" event I judged the cheer event and took pictures
  for the yearbook.
"T-Division's" goals are:
A ) Student Engagement
- See question four
B ) School Climate
- See question thirteen
C ) Education for Sustainable Development

4 ) How do you define student engagement? What does it look like in your classroom?
Student engagement is a state in which students are actively involved in the learning process and are taking responsibility for their own learning. I really think that engagement is increased when students are offered choice and the learning opportunities are relevant and meaningful to their specific interests and abilities.
Engagement is going to look differently for every single student in my classroom depending their interests, needs, abilities, and personality.

5 ) How do you differentiate your instruction?
Learning Styles/Multiple Intelligences
For the majority of my lessons I include a PowerPoint or Prezi Presentation that allows for student to be presented with information through auditory, textual and visual means. During the activation component of the lesson I like to have an activity that gets students out of their desks and engages kineasthetic learners.
Reading Levels
When using text in class I try to have more than one version so that students are varying reading levels can have information that is appropriate for them but also meets the curricular outcomes. If multiple text versions are unavailable I will provide a reading guide, include small group instruction, or provide a visual option to accompany the text.
I try to always provide multiple options when it comes to assessment so that student can demonstrate their learning in a manner that best suits them. At any time, students can suggest alternatives and create their own assessment options. I have no issue with students creating their own plan in order to best demonstrate their learning.

6 ) What is Backwards-by-Design planning? Show me a unit in which you've utilized this approach.
Backwards-by-Design planning involves "thinking with the end in mind" and focuses on what students should be able to accomplish at the end of the unit/lesson/topic. In order to accomplish this I identify the "Big Ideas" or enduring understandings for the unit, identify what students will be able to and what they should learn, and then create assessment opportunities that will specifically allow students to reach those goals. Here is a hierarchy of the planning process:
A ) "Big Idea"/Enduring Understandings
B ) What will students know?
C ) What will students be able to do?
D ) What assessment options will allow students to learn and demonstrate
      this information.
I would then show some of the units I have created using this format.

7 ) How do you motivate reluctant learners?
One of the best ways to motivate reluctant is to provide them with learning opportunities that are relevant and meaningful to them. I pride myself in understanding my student's personalities and their interests which allows me plan learning experiences which take their interests into account. One examples of this has included bringing in the graphic novel series, 7th Generation, by David Robertson to learn about First Nations culture, traditions and issues in the World Issues curriculum. Another example has been utilizing the maps and plot of the video game, Assassin's Creed, to discuss ancient Rome and architecture.

When approaching a reluctant learner it is also important to look at learning style/multiple intelligences and differentiation options to ensure the student is learning in a manner that best suits their needs. For example, a student may be experiencing learned helplessness when it comes to writing assignments. Unless the outcome specifically mentions writing, a student can demonstrate their learning in countless ways such as drawings, podcasts, digital stories, conversations, etc.

8 ) Describe your understanding of assessment for learning, as learning, and of learning.
Assessment FOR Learning
- Formative
- Occurs throughout the learning process to help the teacher understand
  how they can make sure the student experiences success.
- Assessment for learning should help teacher's guide their lesson/unit
  planning to best fit the needs of their students (individually and as a class).
- Observation, small or large group discussion, KWL, entrance/exit slips, etc
Assessment AS Learning
- Formative
- Occurs throughout the learning process to help the students understand
  their personal metacognition process.
- Assessment as learning should include a gradual release of responsibility
  as student's become more aware of their understanding on the lesson/unit.
- Self-assessed work, comment-only assessment (no grade), rough drafts,
  conferencing, etc
Assessment OF Learning
- Summative
- Occurs at the end of the learning process and provides an opportunity
  for students to demonstrate their understanding of the learning outcome(s)
- Assessment of learning can take place more than one time for a specific
  outcome and should allow for students to demonstrate their most recent
- Essay, written test, podcast, presentation, podcast, conversation, etc

9 ) Describe the three MB Report Card Categories, what type of assessment would fit in with each one?
Social Studies:
A ) Knowledge & Understanding
- Describe the period of the Great Migration.
B ) Research & Communication
- Produce a newspaper article reporting the rebellions occurring in
  Upper Canada during the 1830-40s.
C ) Critical Thinking
- Consider what would happen if First Nations representatives had been
  allowed to be active and equal participants in Confederation Meetings?
A ) Knowledge & Understanding
- List electrical devices utilized in your daily life and identify what human
  need they fulfill.
B ) Scientific Inquiry Process
- Analyze data to determine the relationship between bulb brightness and
  energy sources in series and parallel circuits.
C ) Design Process & Problem Solving
- Using all of the following materials, create an electrical circuit that
  successful lights up the light bulbs.

I believe that assessment opportunities are endless and should be determined by individual student needs, abilities and interests. In general, I see point "A" as representing the bottom two levels of Blooms Taxonomy (Remembering, Understanding), point "B" as representing the middle two levels of Blooms Taxonomy (Applying, Analyzing), and point "C" as representing the top two levels of Blooms Taxonomy (Evaluating, Creating).

10 ) How do you infuse technology into your teaching?
I do not believe that technology should be included for novelty purposes in hopes to increase student engagement Incorporation of technology should be appropriate to the specific task and should be applied in a manner that allows for practical application after the students leave the classroom.
I would then reference various lessons that infused technology purposefully and with practical application.

11 ) What impact does an interruption to internet access or technology have on student learning?
I always put a back-up plan in place in case technology is malfunctioning or not available. I don't believe that technology should be included as novelty to boost engagement so I will always have a back up plan that allows my students to still meet the same goals through whatever means are available. I try to make sure that videos are available in more than one place, information is copied down and any documents are printed off.

12 ) What do you do if a student outright refuses to do their work?
I would first consider what the student's reasoning might be for not completing their work. (Bad day? Hungry? Fighting with peers/families? Dislike of assignment option? Lacking understanding to complete assignment? Personality clash? etc). I would then ask the student why they are choosing to not complete this assignment. If they identify something specific I would try to address that issue, if possible. If they do not identify something specific I would try to suggest options based off of my personal predictions about their motive. If I am unable to come to a solution I would try to continue conversation to the point where the student might demonstrate their learning without actually completing the assignment.
I would then make sure to record the incident for future reference. Depending on the student and specific situation I may also call home and/or notify administration if appropriate.

13 ) What do you do to set up a respectful & accepting classroom environment?
When creating a respectful and accepting classroom I think the most important factors are clear, concise and consistent guidelines. All students should be aware of classroom expectations and understand the reasoning behind them. Students should also see consistency in all situations so that those guidelines are maintained throughout the year. After learning the classroom guidelines, students also need to see them being appropriately modeled by the classroom teacher at all times.

14 ) What is the role of the parent/guardian in your classroom?
Parents/guardians should be invited to play an active part in the classroom environment. When students, parents/guardians and teachers can all be on the same page the student has a greater chance of success in the classroom. In addition to personal support for their child, parents/guardians can be a great source of expertise and should be invited into the classroom to share their knowledge when appropriate.
I believe that education should be a community endeavour and by inviting parents/guardians, and other community members, into the school it allows for the students to get the a wider range of knowledge and perspective on a topic.

15 ) How do you establish communication with parents?
As a first year teacher who is new to the area I think it is important to set up an open house at the start of the year to give parents an opportunity to meet me and view the classroom before parent-teacher interviews in the fall. During this time I can also open the preliminary lines of communication and determine what is the easiest way to get a hold of parents (phone, email, text, letters with students, etc).

16 ) What extracurricular activities are you interested in?
I've always been very involved with student council, both in high school as well as university, and would be interested in continuing that involvement as a staff supervisor. I would also like to be involved in organizing and running the morning breakfast program as I think it is an extremely important school initiative.

17 ) What leadership role would you be willing to take on?
As an experienced educational blogger, and connected educator, I would like an opportunity to share this outlook with other educators and work on creating a strong online presence within the school. I've presented on this topic at the 2013 BYTE Conference in Neepawa and would like to continue working on this in the school in which I get a position.


  1. Having been on the other side and conducted interviews for the past 4 years, I can tell you are very well prepared. Relax, breathe and ask them to repeat the question if necessary. I wish you all the luck in the world and will be looking forward to your "after" post:)

    1. Thank you Sidney, it means a lot to hear that from someone on the "other side" of the interview process! I definitely took your advice on the "ask them to repeat". I have a very bad cold and needed the extra time so I wouldn't be coughing too much when responding!

  2. Not on any topic, but very heartwarming, and may be useful some day. NB: it is in Russian, I think....


Thank you for commenting!