? Tell us a little about yourself. I had the good fortune to grow up in a small suburban town near Philadelphia. I have both of my parents, one younger sister, a niece, tons of cousins, and a golden-doodle. When I’m not at school, I love to read and take my dog to the park on sunny days.
? What are your three most important reasons for wanting to be a teacher? The most important reason I have for wanting to be a teacher is to positively influence the lives of others. Another reason is because I adore the look of wonder a student can get when learning something new. Lastly, I want to share my love of reading and learning with the next generation.
? What four key components do you believe must be included in your lesson plans? First of all there is an introduction that grabs the students’ attention for the lesson. Next is the meat of the lesson along with any accompanying activities. Near the end of the lesson there should be a review of the information learned. Finally, there must be an assessment, either informal or formal, such as asking oral questions, students completing an exit slip, giving a homework assignment or quiz.
? What strengths would you bring to our school? I have excellent communication skills, a great amount of patience, and a love of teaching and learning. I’m always willing to learn something new. I’m also very flexible in dealing with change when it comes to anything such as schedules, student behavior, needs of faculty or other issues.
? Tell us how you organize your classroom. My desk is right by the door so students can see me as soon as they come in. I put student desks in small clusters of four to five. There are centers all around the room (reading, writing, math, etc.). Books and other items on shelves are organized by grade, then by subject.
? How do you use differentiated instruction? I like to use centers for most subjects. This allows me to group students according to their abilities so they can work on their own level of learning, whether it be for reading, writing or math. While students are working in small groups, it also gives me an opportunity to pull students for one-to-one work.
? How do you teach students to utilize higher-order thinking skills in your classroom? Students are encouraged to do this throughout all lessons. Instead of simply asking for an answer, I also ask how did they get the answer/what did they need to do to figure it out. Students synthesize and evaluate information to become more creative thinkers.
? Besides lecture, what methods of teaching do you use? As much as possible, I like to use hands-on learning. Whenever I am able to connect the classroom to real-world experiences, I try to do that as well. I also like to get the students thinking and sharing ideas among themselves as well. The learning is then coming from the students, not exclusively from the teacher.
? Describe some methods of positive reinforcement you use in your classroom. I have used similar methods in many different ways. In one class I taught, the behavior chart we used was the stoplight system. If the students kept their green all day, they earned money for that day. Students were then able to use the money to buy from the class store on Fridays. If they had to move to yellow, orange, or red they did not get their money. If they needed to move to another color, the consequences included losing recess time, conference with the teacher a letter to parents, and a possible meeting with the principal. I also had a whole-class accountability system where students earned marbles for good whole-class behavior. If I saw a time when everyone was on green that day, or small group work was being completed quietly, the class earned a few marbles. When the marble jar was full, the class had a fun activity such as a popcorn party or extra time outside.
? In what ways do you communicate with parents? I keep my students’ parents informed several ways. Monthly newsletters are sent home, as well as notes on individual student progress. I also use email, phone calls and meetings.
? How do you use technology to enrich your lessons? Smart boards are used in lesson introductions and group work to engage students. The school also has programs on their netbooks that allow students to learn and have fun doing so.
? How do you promote life-long learning in your classroom? I model life-long learning by sharing things I learn with my students. I tell them I learn new things all the time. My students also know one of my favorite things to do is read and I tell them this teaches me new things too. When they see I’m still learning long after being in grade school, hopefully they will strive to do the same thing when they get older.
? List five words that accurately describe you. Five words that describe me are responsible, polite, respectful, friendly, and trustworthy.
? Describe a challenging situation with a student. How did you deal with it? When I worked at a preschool, one of my student’s parents worked from home. One day she told me she was going to be flying away on business for a few days. The day she was to leave, she brought her son in early so she would have time to pack. He was putting up a fuss and did not want her to go. She looked to me for help, so I came over and talked with them for a little, telling her to have fun on her trip and telling her son that he would see her before he knew it. That did not help and he started throwing a fit amongst the other four-year-olds when she finally left. I took him aside and said in a calm voice, “I understand you are upset. I miss my mom when she goes away too. However, you are disrupting the other children. If you need to throw a fit, you can do it over here.” I guided him to a secluded area of the room where he could be upset and cry if he wanted to. He did not even spend a minute there. After I walked away, he went over to a group of children and asked if he could play with them.
? If you teach a lesson and your students do not seem to be “getting it” what do you do? I always try to have a backup or several different ways to teach the same content. If paper and pencil does not seem to be working, and it fits the lesson, I try getting students out of their seats to work through the problem. If I’m really stuck, I have the class move on to the next subject and think about it over night to come up with another way to teach the content that the students would be able to understand. Then I try again the next day.
? Why are state standards important? State standards are important because they help create a consistency throughout the state. If a student were to change districts from one year to another, they should still have a very similar knowledge base compared to the other students in their new school. Even though they are not printed for every grade level, they set a mark that needs to be reached by a certain time. The standards also help teachers know what their students need to be able to master in a given school year and they can create lesson plans around these given concepts. This keeps teachers from repeating content from previous years or making lessons that are too hard because students have not yet learned the material needed to build a new concept. Overall, standards help teachers to keep track of what students have learned and what they need to know.
? How do you provide support for students who are not performing as well as they should? I always offer before, during, and after school personal time for students to ask questions and get some tutoring in the subjects they are having difficulty with. I also have them get together with another student that knows the material. Sometimes they can word things differently than I would have thought to say it and this helps the struggling student understand the content better.
? How closely do you follow your lesson plans? I use my lesson plans as guidelines. I try to stay as close as possible to the plan, but if I think of a better way to teach a lesson or the students are not understanding the material the way I had originally planned to present it, it is easy to switch things around during class to accommodate those necessary changes.
? Describe the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher. A good teacher gives information. A great teacher allows students to discover new things through guided exploration. A good teacher hears students when they are talking. A great teacher listens and responds to students’ needs.
? What makes you stand out from other applicants? My varied experiences make me an asset to any school district. My abilities enable me to be flexible and succeed in a variety of positions. I also have a strong willingness to learn and can adapt to different situations easily.