As hiring season for the next school year approaches, it’s time to have a real conversation about teacher interviews. When we interview for a position we often focus on convincing the place we want to work to hire us. The spotlight is on you to knock it out of the park and come off as a good fit for their opening. But what about the other way around? When you interview at a school, especially when you are dying to get another contract, how critically do you evaluate them?
After not enjoying my first year of teaching, I really thought hard about how I could make sure I ended up in the right position the second time around. The thing I had made a mistake on was my interview at my first school. I let myself be charmed by the new building and 1:1 technology and didn’t really seek information about how they handled behavior or admin leadership styles. Before I began interviewing for my second year, I wrote down the things that were important to me and questions I could ask that would help me see if the next school would be a good fit.
I have come up with some examples for different concerns below.
If you want to know more about how they handle Behavior then ask…
Do you follow a specific behavior program on this campus? (ex. PBIS)
Follow-up question: do you implement that with complete fidelity or how does it look on your campus?
What is your role as an admin in behavior prevention and intervention?
What are the options for behavior interventions as a teacher? How am I supported in student behavior?
How do you approach student discipline?
If you want to know more about how they handle Evaluations then ask…
What is your goal/priority in conducting teacher evaluations?
What role do test scores play in evaluations?
How often and what is the process for teacher evaluations at this school?
How do you measure teacher success?
What are the lesson plan expectations?
If you want to know more about how they handle Leadership then ask…
What kind of support systems will I have as a [new] teacher here?
How would you describe your leadership style?
Do you like to pop into classrooms and check in with teachers frequently?
What committees could I join or ways I could impact decisions that are made for the school?
How do you ensure teacher safety on campus?
If you want to know more about the School Culture then ask…
Why is this position open or why did the previous teacher leave?
How well do teachers get along? Or What kind of relationships do teachers have with each other on campus?
How has your teacher turnover been in the past couple of years or how have you attempted to lower teacher turnover?
Are there any extra duties or expectations for teachers (lunch duty, weekly lesson plans, tutoring hours, Parent Newsletter, etc.)?
What do you like most about working here? (Ask admin as well as other teachers at the school)
If you want to know more about “Perks” or Resources then ask…
What kind of technology is available to myself and my students?
Are there potential opportunities for coaching, mentoring, department chair, club supervisor, etc.?
Is there a PTA and what role do they play?
How do you make your teachers feel valued?
Is there a mentor program for new teachers and what does that program look like?
Another huge part about any teacher interview is making sure you get a tour of the school. This will give you a more realistic look at the school because the admin can’t control all the variables if they have been trying to hide red flags. Here are some things you should look for:
Is the school clean?
Ask how often classrooms are cleaned
Are students wandering around unsupervised? Is there security?
Are other teachers friendly?
Do the other teachers look happy? Do they look stressed? Are they welcoming?
What do you hear?
Do you hear students or teachers yelling, is the music room next to where your room would be super loud?
Is there a computer lab? Do you get a laptop cart? Can you reserve the library or other spaces on campus? How many copiers are on campus? Is there a teacher’s lounge? Are there staff-only bathrooms? Can you have a mini-fridge in your room? Is there a printer in your room?
How is the front desk staff?
Are they nice to you? If you try to chat with them, are they willing to talk to you? Did they come off rude? How do they speak to students and parents?
What do classrooms look like?
Are they large? How many desks are there? Are they well maintained? How much storage is there? What kind of furniture is present? Can you get additional tables, desks, filing cabinets, etc if wanted?
Due to the events of this last year, I also recommend if you are looking for a new position that you ask your potential admin-to-be how they have supported their teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you feel empowered to ask the questions that will really reveal the type of school you are standing in. Above all, trust your judgment when you hear the answers and seek out a position where you will be supported as an educator.
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