Frequently Asked Questions
Tell me about yourself.
I have two years of working experience in the special education field. My first year I worked in a classroom and I taught those student that were in the special education program in the core knowledge subjects. This would include math, science, social studies and English Language Arts and Reading. Each class would have students that were of different ages and levels. For example, one of my math classes had students that range in ages from 12 to 17 and levels from second grade to eighth grade. Each student has his/her own lesson plan. I had to use different teaching strategies due to the studentís disabilities. I believe that I am a hard-worker and self-motivated. I also tutor in all the core knowledge subjects from 4 to eighth grade as well as prepared all the necessary paperwork for the ARD meetings. I also helped all students as the school prepare for Taks in social studies. Several of my students received awards for their results on the taks exams. I was also designated by the other classroom teachers as the teacher to send their students that were misbehaving in class. I have an easy-going personality that tends to defuse tense situations. I try to avoid confrontations but when that is not possible, I try hard to make sure it does not escalate.
My second year I worked as a special education inclusion teacher in the social studies department at a school that was 90% Latino. This involved being a team member and also team teaching. I would work with general education teacher concerning modification of tests and homework. I also shared teaching duties with the general education teacher. Most of my students, about thirty, were at the secondary level. My main task involved breaking down complex concepts so that the student could understand it. Through my efforts, the social studies department was able to obtain free software from Glencoe that was of great benefit to the special education students and the school. All the special education students passed the modified taks in social studies. This was the only area where this school exceeded the state level.
What are your strong points?
I would say that my strong points are preparation, professionalism, communications skills, and dedication.
What are your weak points?
I have a tendency to overwork which affects my performance to some extent.
Why should we hire you?
I believe that I am a very good teacher. I am knowledgeable in my subject area and have experience teaching it as well. I am very good with technology and know how to use it for maximum effect.
What would you say is your teaching style?
My teaching style is that of a constructionist. Students learn by fitting new information together with what they already know. I believe that learning is affected by the context in which an idea is taught as well as by students' beliefs and attitudes. Students have at least two different types of memory: a spatial memory system, and a set of systems for rote learning. Teaching that heavily emphasizes rote learning does not promote spatial, experienced learning and can inhibit understanding. Students understand and remember best when facts and skills are embedded in natural, spatial memory. I believe that experiential learning is most effective. The classroom climate should be challenging but not threatening to students. Teaching must be multifaceted to allow students to express preferences. Effective teaching employs a variety of learning strategies.
Why Did I Choose to Become a Teacher?
The reasons that I chose to become a teacher are threefold: first, I like working with children. I was a football coach for the church that I attend and I enjoyed every moment of it. It is very exciting to work with children and to watch them grow. I also did some substitute teaching there as well. Secondly, I have a passion for learning and for helping others to learn. The position that I held previous to being a teacher was one that paid for my training in electronics and Novell Netware. I was then able to teach new employees about our products and our software. This was a very challenging and rewarding position. My daughters also played a role in my becoming a teacher. It was helping them with their homework and their understanding of social studies that led me to take the necessary steps in becoming a teacher. The satisfaction that I received when helping my children was very fulfilling.
Describe how you would integrate technology into the position you are seeking.
As a social studies/special education teacher, I would most likely use PowerPoint presentations in classroom lectures. I would also make sure that the slides are relevant to what is being studied and make sure not to abuse this media by having too many slides. Many teachers are tempted to give assignments that require the students to do research on the Internet on a certain topic that they are currently studying. The teacher has to be aware that not all students have a computer at home or can gain access to one. If an assignment of this kind is given, it would behoove the teacher to make sure that every student is able to work on a computer either at home or at school. The teacher may have to reserve the computer lab for this assignment. The teacher may also have to show the students how to do research on the Internet to find the necessary information. I would also use streaming online media or download the file and burn it to a compact disc and play it using the overhead. The Internet has a multitude of information in a format that has the possibility to make education exciting for students.
How do you handle interruptions?
There are two kinds of interruptions: internal and external. External interruptions have to do with individuals coming to your classroom or information being given using the p.a. system. For these interruptions, I will ask for the class to be silent. These interruptions can be foreseen. It would be helpful if the teacher already established a procedure for the students when these interruptions occur. The internal interruptions are those made within the classroom itself. Generally, it is when a student misbehaves. I think the most common interruption is a student talking while the teacher is speaking. The most effective way of getting the student to stop talking is either by making eye contact with them or by positioning yourself close to the talking student. I like to roam the classroom during the period and I find that this cuts down on the talking (and also any horseplay that may develop). It also allows students to ask me questions as I pass by that they may not ask if I was sitting at the desk. It is very helpful if a teacher has rules, procedures, and routines as these tend to prevent student from misbehaving and thus keeping them on task.
How do you motivate students to learn?
The way that I go about motivating students is to excite their interest. When I begin a new period, I sometimes choose an interesting political cartoon and ask my students what they think this picture represents. I then tie this to current events which makes it relevant to them. I have used "praise" to help build confidence and self-esteem and this in turn has motivated students. A teacher needs to facilitate the learning of student in a variety of ways. Lesson plans should not be so rigid that they cannot be amended to fit the individual needs of the students. Students will become more motivated if they have more input into their learning. The teacher will have to set the rubrics for them, but the students will be motivated to learn.
What student outcomes would you strive for as a teacher?
I would strive for the development of individual potential, desire for excellence, and a sense of responsibility to self and society.
What are your thoughts on team-teaching?
I am sure that many of you have participated in team-teaching and realize the benefits of this strategy. It is an effective strategy for teaching large groups of students. It encourages teachers to collaborate and generate ideas that will benefit the students. I have experience in team-teaching as a student-teacher. I enjoyed it immensely.
Aims and Aspirations: Explain your future professional plans and desires.
I am currently working on getting a Master Degree in History so that I can pass this knowledge on to my students. I am also attending various continuing education seminars to be a more effective teacher.
With what community organizations are you associated?
I belong to the Garland Neighborhood Watch and Friends of Garland Libraries.
To what professional, social, or honorary organizations do you belong?
I belong to the Texas Teachers Association.
How do you handle classroom discipline?
I introduce rules, procedures and routines on the very first day of school and continue to teach them the first week of school. It is very important that a teacher invests time in teaching discipline and procedures, this will be repaid multifold in the effective use of class time. It is also important that the teacher has a clear idea of what is expected from the students and the students have a clear idea of what the teacher expects from them. My rules are expectations of appropriate student behavior. Generally, I post the rules before the first day of school. I like to use general rules which offer more flexibility in behavior in a few rules. Examples of these rules are: Respect others, Take care of your school, Be polite and helpful, Keep the room clean, Be prepare. A teacher also needs to have consequences for when a student chooses to break a rule. These too are posted. First time breaking a rule in the week, a warning is issued. Second time breaking a rule - 15 minutes after school. Third time breaking a rule - 30 minutes after school and parents are called and conference scheduled. Fourth time breaking a rule - 60 minutes after school, referral written and student sent to office. I also have conferences with students concerning their behavior. These conferences are necessary to help the student reflect on their actions and for them to think about how they can avoid this inappropriate behavior in the future. This may include a contract or a checklist.
School policies for a student that chews gum is breaking most school rules and the logical consequence should make sense. For chewing gum in class, the student deposits the gum in the trash, writes two paragraphs on how to prevent the infraction from occurring again. A student that turns in a sloppy paper has to redo the paper. A student that walks into the classroom in a noisily manner will walk in again in a more appropriate manner. A student that does not bring in textbook will do without textbook for the period. A student that arrives late (unexcused) for class will miss instruction and suffers consequences. I believe it is very important not to stop the lesson to penalize a student. If a student is talking while the teacher is speaking, the teacher may try to make eye contact with the offending student by moving closer to him/her. If that fails, the teacher may move closer to the student. I also use physical signals such as a finger to the lips or shake of the head the head to indicate that a given action is inappropriate. Sometimes all that is necessary to do to get a student back on task in a simple verbal reminder, hopefully as privately and subtly as possible. Finally, if a student does not respond to the more subtle interventions, simply tell the student to stop the inappropriate behavior. Positive consequences are given when good work is done. I normally use the following: a high-five, a pat on the back, a thumb's up signal, a phone call home. It is important that you make the administration aware of your discipline plan and I also send a plan home to the student's parents. Parental support makes discipline easier.