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Interviewing Pre-service Teacher Candidates

October 26, 2011

Every student who wants to apply to the college of education at MTSU has to be interviewed by a bunch of different people. I’ve been asked by several students to do this. I don’t really know the purpose of the interviews, but every student explains it like this: “You just ask me about why I want to be a teacher and then you fill out a form.”

I’ve decided that “Why do you want to be a teacher?” is the stupidest question ever. In fact, I can’t hardly imagine a worse question. So I have been thinking about what questions I am going to ask students instead. Here’s my rough draft of possibilities:

  • What’s your most meaningful learning experience (// in school // out of school)? Tell me about what you learned and how you learned it. What made that learning experience particularly meaningful?
  • What role did other people play in helping to make that learning experience so meaningful? Are there other factors that helped?
  • Of all the skills and knowledge that a teacher needs to engage students in such meaningful learning (like the one you described), which skills do you believe are most important  // believe take the deliberate practice to develop?
  • What do you think great teachers do throughout their careers to develop these skills? What do you see yourself  doing over your career to ensure that you continually work to develop this set of “hard-to-develop” skill set?
  • In the short term, what goals have you set for yourself? Why are these goals important to you? What specifically are you doing to work toward those goals? How will you know if you are or are not making progress toward those goals?
  • Tell me about something that you understand well now, but really struggled to understand early on.
  • Tell me about your biggest fear / worry in becoming a teacher. Why does this worry you?
  • Outside of teaching and school, tell me about three things that you value most about the yourself and the life you lead. Why do you values these things? How did you come to value these things? What impact does this have on others around you?

I’m hoping you all will weigh in and help me figure out what’s best to ask.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2011 11:00 pm

    I’d like to see some questions about why they are interested in working with kids. Everything else you mention is important, but much of it would work for almost any interview. The combination of teaching in the context of the crazy world of being a kid is the most unique, challenging, and ultimately rewarding part of this job.

  2. Christopher permalink
    October 27, 2011 1:18 am

    You may hate that first question, and I see your point. But it does sometimes draw out some interesting stories from students. And if the best they can do is “I like kids,” it says something too.

    • October 27, 2011 11:45 am

      Good points. I’ll still ask THE question. I’m just looking for some other questions that will get at what they think about learning and understanding, and also whether they think teachers are “born great teachers” or whether or not they believe they will have to put in a lot of work, practice, and reflection to become a good teacher. Most of the elementary education majors in my inquiry course think that teachers are born. They were born to be teachers, not scientists. This concerns me a lot–although I need to think more about exactly why that is. I also become concerned when I talk to anyone about their profession and they don’t have any ideas about what they are trying to improve in their practice. I know they are early on their careers, but the mindset of continual strides at improvement is important.

  3. October 30, 2011 5:38 pm

    This seems apropos:

    “Despite our certainty about the potential of individual candidates, our forecasts were largely useless.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/magazine/dont-blink-the-hazards-of-confidence.html?pagewanted=all

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