29 Questions and Answers Written by Professional Interviewers
Question 1 of 29
How do you usually determine which textbooks you will choose?
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Lay out your decision-making process and use 'If/Then' language. Make sure to demonstrate that you would be aligned with the school's principles and values. You can also use this opportunity to show that you like to develop yourself professionally.
"First, I'd look at what we need to achieve and what the weakest areas were in my last class. If I see that, last year, my students' social studies scores weren't too good, then I'll look into what the deficiencies were and see if there's any improvements that could come from the choice of textbook. I'd ask my colleagues for their opinions, and I'd also look on online communities for ideas. I take a look at each textbook and imagine myself teaching it. It's got to be accessible to the children."
Community Answers with Professional Feedback
"First, I would analyze the data to get a better understanding of the students' strengths and areas in need of improvement. Next, I would research the best books that would address the needs of our students, while doing so I would also imagine myself as the teacher facilitating the lessons to ensure that I am making a choice that would benefit both teachers and students. Then I would solicit the opinions of the teachers by having them also review the textbooks to suggest feedback, as far as the textbook alignment with the needs of our students as well as if it's teacher and student-friendly."
Rachelle Enns' Professional Opinion:
Your multi-stage approach is wonderful! This answer shows that you are very mindful of your decisions as an instructional coordinator.
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How have you helped teachers understand new technologies for the classroom?
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Use concrete examples if you have any. The main point is to paint a clear picture for the interviewer about the way you engage with teachers. Walk them through what you might do, step by step, without getting into too much detail.
"I ask the principal if I can take up some time on professional development day for a seminar to teach the teachers about a new technology. I gather all the teachers on that day and I'll give them an overview of the technology. For instance, it might be a new eLearning platform. I'll show them a quick tour of the features and give examples of how they might use them in the class. Then I'll have the teachers interact with the platform for 5-10 minutes, and then we'll have a Q&A session. I take their feedback and then I make sure that they have easy access to me if they have any more concerns or questions."
If a school is performing poorly in a certain subject, what are your immediate action steps?
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Give a brief step-by-step overview of your troubleshooting process. Make sure your answer spans the short term first. If appropriate or necessary, zoom out a little bit and talk about your strategies to improve on medium-to-long term timeline.
"I'll bring it to the attention of the teachers and ask them if there have been any particular pain points that they're facing. I'll then ask them if there's anything that they can immediately identify that we can be doing better, if there are resources that they needed but weren't given in a timely fashion. Things that we can do immediately to improve the situation.
From there, we'll talk about deeper issues, such as problems with infrastructure, the administrative system, things like that. These are things that will give us better performance in the long run."
When you were a teacher, what was your favorite subject to teach? What grades?
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Give an honest answer and remember to explain why.
"I really loved teaching English to the sixth grade. They've just moved onto a higher level and a lot of them are excited to have that extra responsibility. They start to question you more, which makes things more challenging and interesting, which I like."
6. Tell me about a time when you failed to meet an objective. Describe the objective and how far away from the objective you were. Then describe the steps you took to improve your performance. Here is an answer example: "I was tasked with increasing standardized test scores for math by 25%. I worked hard all year and was able to increase it by 19%. So I looked back on the year and took stock in the things that I could do better. I asked teachers for feedback, and I asked the principal for feedback as well. I even sent a survey to the students' parents. I took all that information and identified areas of improvement. Then I made a plan to improve on each area and invited school leadership to give me feedback and suggestions." Here is an anonymous answer example: "i was asked to increase student reading achievement on the second quarterly benchmark by 25%. i worked very hard by adjusting my lessons and teaching practices. i was able to increase it by 20%. i looked back on the previous quarters and took stock on the things that i could do better. i participated in additional teacher groups, online and in my school, to elicit effect feedback on different lesson ideas and resources. with all of the acquired information, i was able to identify areas of improvement and construct a plan to improve." In response to the anonymous answer example, here is what Rachelle Enns said: A 20% increase is an achievement you should be very proud of! You do a great job showing the interviewer that you are very analytical in your approach and able to leverage data when making improvements.7. How do you continue to educate yourself? Provide concrete answers. Choose a few trending articles and check your local teacher's union newsletter. Here is an answer example: "I always strive to improve. Even though I have my Master's, I'm not done learning. I keep up with the latest techniques on Educator Today, and I subscribe to a daily 'Tip of the Day' email for educators. I look for ways to apply them on a daily basis, and at the end of the day I reflect and see what went well and what didn't. Then I think of ways to improve and also to reinforce what I'm doing well." Here is an anonymous answer example: "i always strive to improve. even though i have my doctorate, i am not done learning. i keep up with the latest techniques and research by reading research journals on ascd." In response to the anonymous answer example, here is what Rachelle Enns said: Great answer! I like how you made mention of your higher education while also expressing that you are eager to continue your learning.8. What is your favorite book for educators' self development? Choose a book that you're familiar with. Make sure to explain why you like the book by mentioning aspects of the book that would appeal to the school's mission and values. Here is an answer example: "I really like Robert J Sternberg's 'Thinking Styles'. I know that PS 38 is very big on seeing students as individuals, and Sternberg's book is a constant reminder that we all learn in different ways and that I have to design my lessons to engage all those learning styles."9. Would you consider yourself to be highly accountable? The best answer here is obvious: 'yes'. The important part is to give a brief example that demonstrates this quality or qualifies your answer. Here is an answer example: "Of course. I teach my students that they're accountable for their own success, and I practice what I preach." Here is an anonymous answer example: "absolutely, i have always taught my students that they are accountable for their success, and i practice what i preach." In response to the anonymous answer example, here is what Rachelle Enns said: Excellent! Being a good example for your students is accountability-in-action.10. As an instructional coordinator you will often find yourself on the less popular side of opinion. How do you deal with that? Be as specific as you can in your response. Here is an answer example: "I always acknowledge the teachers' opinions first. I ask them for their concerns and really get into why they don't agree with something. I always do my best to give them a thoughtful answer on the spot, but if I can't, I tell them that I'm going to look into the matter for them. You really have to listen to them first. That's how you earn the right to speak to them. If they see that they're being listened to, it makes it easier to swallow a hard pill when the time comes." Here is an anonymous answer example: "i will always acknowledge the opinions of the teachers first. i would ask them of the concerns and why they might disagree with something. i would do my best to answer thoughtfully, but if i can't, i will let them know that i would get back to them. it is very important to listen to them first. that's how you earn the right to speak to them." In response to the anonymous answer example, here is what Rachelle Enns said: Earning the right to be involved, and give an opinion, is a very good point. Your angle is humble but still confident. Nicely done.11. Would you consider yourself an influencer? The obvious answer here is 'yes'. Qualify your answer and give a brief example of how you influenced a teacher. The more concrete the example, the better. If you have no concrete examples, then draw out the theory of how you influence others. Here is an answer example: "Absolutely. That's what drew me to the position: I can make lasting impacts by influencing other teachers. I influence others by understanding their concerns and showing that I'm aligned with their interests. It's about finding common ground.
A lot of teachers don't like Instructional Coordinators, so I make sure that I show my face and help them with little things whenever I can. I show that I'm in the field with them, not hiding behind a desk issuing edicts blindly. I always give before I receive, that's how I win people over." Here is an anonymous answer example: "absolutely, being an influencer is what inspired me to apply for this position. i believe that i can make a lasting impact by influencing others. i influence others by understanding their concerns and showing that i'm aligned with their interests. a lot of teachers don't like supervisors, so i would make sure that i am very visible and helpful whenever needed." In response to the anonymous answer example, here is what Rachelle Enns said: Again, a nice, humble approach while still taking command of your responsibilities. Your answers show a strong level of self-awareness and ability to collaborate.12. Are you a strong negotiator? If you are, then say so and explain some key concepts and connect it with a concrete example if possible.
If you aren't, then admit it and immediately move into ways that you're looking to improve. Mention a technique or principle of negotiation and segue into a very brief example that's relevant to teaching if you can. Here is an answer example: "I'm not a strong negotiator right now, but I'm working on it. I'm reading 'The Effective Negotiator' by Charles Sanford amongst many other books, and I look for ways to apply these techniques. For example, I understand that part of negotiation is about framing the problem and finding common ground. So for example, when a teacher takes issue with XYZ issue, then I'd set the frame by [...] and then draw them onto common ground so that I can explain why XYZ is important to the district." Here is an anonymous answer example: "i would like to believe so. as a teacher negotiating, seem to be a good way to get to the attended goal. the most important thing to remember is to keep the intended goal as a priority. next, explain all of the reasons why it's important to reach that goal and how the intended person could benefit." In response to the anonymous answer example, here is what Rachelle Enns said: Negotiation skills are certainly needed to succeed in this career path. If possible, give a specific example of a time you negotiated a situation to reach your goal.13. Do you want to be in Education for your entire career? Tell me about your long term career goals. The interviewer is concerned with long-term fit for this role. Your objective here is to remove any doubts that your career trajectory will lead you away from the education field. Draw out a specific plan for your career that illustrates that you'll stay in Education. Here is an answer example: "I've always wanted to be in education. I was a teacher for five years, so I really know the field quite well. I'm looking for ways to grow professionally. I'd like to be an instructional coordinator for 3-5 years, so that I can develop good relationships with school leadership and prove myself. From there, I plan on seeing what opportunities there are higher up in leadership so that there are opportunities for decision-making. Eventually, I might even consider opening a charter school."14. Why did you initially aspire to be an instructional coordinator? Research the organization's mission and values and find ways to illustrate how you're aligned with them. If there are negative reasons that compelled you to move away from being a teacher, instead focus on a positive reason that drew you towards being an instructional coordinator. Don't focus on the sinking ship, focus on the greener pastures. Here is an answer example: "Teaching was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot from it. Once I learned about the instructional coordinator position, I knew that that's what I want to do because of how much more of an impact I can make. I also love negotiating with people. I want the chance to use my skill at influencing people."15. What drives you do do your best every day? Research the school's mission and values. Choose one of the values and come up with response that appeals to that value and is aligned with the mission. Be creative about bridging the gap between the school's mission and the motivation for your performance. Here is an answer example: "I really like that your school strives for agency. I think that at-risk students can only thrive if everyone takes agency, takes ownership of the experience. The parent, the teacher, and the student all need to understand that they have power in their own hands. And that's what drives me to do my best every single day: I know that those students depend on their teachers and see them as a model. If I don't bring my A-game, these teachers won't either, which means the students aren't getting a fair chance at life."16. As an instructional coordinator, how do you keep yourself motivated and enthusiastic even when you are met with resistance? Review the ways that you manage your stress. You want to show the interviewer that you're resilient and positive. The more concrete your examples, the better. This is a chance to show your thinking process. Turn a negative into a positive, and end on a positive note. Here is an answer example: "I really believe in the school's mission, and I'm really empathetic, and to both sides. When things are rough, I think about how wonderful both the teachers and the school leadership are: they both care about the students so much that they have a personal stake in the way that things are done. That puts a smile on my face. And every morning, I remind myself that education is a dynamic field: it's always changing because the students are changing from year to year, and so is the world. I'm really lucky to be part of such a dynamic field that keeps me intellectually engaged. I get to solve all these different kinds of problems."17. How would you interact with faculty members in order for them to understand that integrating technology into their lessons could be beneficial? Demonstrate your interpersonal skills. Choose a specific technology that would aid them and draw out a scenario using specific equipment or software and show them how it aids in achieving a positive outcome. Here is an answer example: "I'd ask them what one of their biggest difficulties is when they're teaching a lesson. Then I'd connect that with a technology. For example, if they have a lot of kinesthetic learners, having iPads where they can touch the screen to interact with the lesson would be great. iPads can engage visual learners as well as listeners as well."18. Tell me about your post-secondary education. Have you completed your Masters' Degree? Answer honestly and directly. This is also a chance to segue into different topics that may help improve your standing. If you haven't completed the degree yet, that may indicate to the interviewer that your education will interfere with full-time commitments. If that's the case, and the degree isn't strictly necessary for the job, indicate that you can finish your education on a part-time basis and explain why you're excited for this opportunity. Here is an answer example: "I completed it just a few months ago and I'm very excited to put the theory into use. I like this school because..."19. How long were you a teacher before transitioning into an Instructional Coordinator? Be direct and explain why you chose to branch off into the Instructional Coordinator role. Adjust your answer to suit the values and needs of the organization. Here is an answer example: "I was a teacher for 5 years. I left teaching to be an Instructional Coordinator as soon as I could because I really wanted to affect the educational system. Teaching kids is wonderfully impactful, but I could only impact 30 kids a year. I wanted to make impacts for the entire district, and I see this is a a chance to do that."20. What is your favorite form of interactive learning? Give your favorite form of interactive learning and explain why by using brief points that relate to the school's mission and values. Here is an answer example: "I love using Minecraft to teach because it really energizes and engages the students. I know that this school is big on leveraging technology to improve our students' lives, and Minecraft has a lot of systems to facilitate that learning. For example..."21. What are your thoughts on an arts based education? The most appropriate answer will depend on the values of the organization that you're applying to. Look at what pressures the school district is facing and what subjects have been affected. Look at what areas have found increased funding and what has had funding taken away.
As an instructional coordinator, you may be expected to get teachers onboard with top-down decisions that impact them. Use this opportunity to demonstrate how you would support the school leadership's decisions and influence others to align with it.
As always, feel free to ask for more information if you need it to make a well-informed response. Here is an answer example: "There are lots of differing opinions on whether liberal arts is worth teaching. I noticed that our school district has been cutting funding for the arts, and that a lot of teachers in this area are opposed to it. I think there's a time and place for everything, and what matters at the end of the day is that the school is meeting its objectives. I'd ask the teachers about their opinion and find common ground between their stance and the school's stance."22. Do you agree or disagree with the majority of our State's curriculum standards? What would you change if you could? The most appropriate answer will depend on the current climate in the organization you're applying to. Either way, demonstrate your professional engagement and industry awareness by pointing out the current weakness in your population and explain briefly what you would do to change it and why. Here is an answer example: "I think what matters most is that our students get the proper education they need. There's an undeniable need to improve our science education right now, so I'd integrate science into the other subjects if I could. I'd integrate each subject with each other, but especially science. So for example, I might have a science fiction novel taught in an English class, and show that you can apply math to science as well. I think they students will retain more of the knowledge that way."23. How closely do you adhere to National curriculum standards? Provide a straightforward answer and demonstrate your understanding of the importance of adherence to professional standards. Here is an answer example: "I fully meet the standards and earned my license to teach Social Studies for grades 7-12."24. Tell me about a time when you've had a difficult teacher to work with. What made them difficult and how did you create a breakthrough? Demonstrate your ability to influence others. Set up the situation by explaining the problem. Then tell a story of how you overcame obstacles to arrive at the solution. Here is an answer example: "The teacher I was working with was very dismissive of me. She thought that she knew best. I knew that with her type of personality, I wouldn't be able to get through to her unless she saw the value of my role. At first I asked her to coffee, but she said she was really busy. So instead I asked to join her during her lunch. We bonded over common horror stories. That wasn't quite enough to gain her trust though. She liked me, but she didn't like what I did.
So the next time I had a chance, I asked her what she thought Instructional Coordinators do. She laughed and said that she thought they were supposed to spy on teachers and write them up for every little mistake.
I took the chance to tell her more about exactly what my purpose was, and how I fit into the organization. I pointed out that at the end of the day we just want what's best for the students. I promised her that it wouldn't be a one-way relationship, that she'd be able to be honest with me and give me her feedback. She turned into one of my biggest supporters after we had that talk."25. Tell me about a new teaching technique in which you recently learned. Give the broad points of the technique, tell how you applied them in the real world, and show something that you learned from it by explaining your expectation, how reality deviated from your expectation, and how you overcame it. Here is an answer example: "I had never tried small-group discussions before. I split up the class into groups of 4 and gave them some discussion questions. It turns out that there were some kids who were doing all the talking, and some kids who just put their heads down and took a nap. I learned that the timing is important: we had just come back from lunch and they had all this energy. Next time, I'm going to factor in the time of day to accommodate their energy levels."26. How do you continuously strive to improve the teaching abilities of your team? Show the step-by-step process that you use and how each step relates to timeframes. Here is an answer example: "I have weekly check-ins with my team as well as monthly and quarterly meetings where we talk about short-term and medium-term objectives and concerns that they might have. I'm very big on giving feedback as immediately as I can and following up to see if they're implementing it. I ask them to come up with positives from the new implementations and see if there are any negatives. This is the continual feedback system that I use to improve the team."27. When have you taken a risk on a new teaching approach or suggestion? Was it successful? The tolerance for risk will differ from school to school. Use your best judgment on the example you give: your example should be aligned with the school's values.
If you haven't taken risks, then talk about small initiatives that you started and show the results.
If you have taken a risk, it's okay to show that you weren't successful. What's important is to show how you learned from the situation and rebounded from it.
If you have taken risks and succeeded, all the better.
Always justify your actions by stating them and following up with 'because'. Here is an answer example: "I suggested that the teachers take the students to a park once a month instead of staying in the classroom because I noticed that the students were more lively when they were in the sun and breathing fresh air; I thought they might learn better this way.
From what I saw, it was tough to keep them contained at first, and the teachers wasted a lot of time getting them to settle down. So the first time that we did it, it wasn't exactly a success. But the second time we did it, the teachers were able to keep order and the lesson was a great success because they kept talking about it after class. It became a real memory and the lesson stuck with them more that way."28. What was your biggest curriculum change you have implemented? Why did you feel a need to change it in the first place? Dig deep and find the root cause that you changed the curriculum. Most of the time, it will have to do with concerns over student performance. Here is an answer example: "I changed the books that the students were reading. I changed them because we needed to increase the reading scores. I interviewed some teachers and they told me that it was difficult to get the students to read those books because they were too old: the language was difficult to parse. So I integrated newer books that were both written using more accessible language and also effective at illustrating literary devices."29. When have you had to coach a teacher? What was the issue, and was it a success? Paint a clear picture with step-by-step summary points of what you did.
Start off with the situation and explain what the problem was. Then show what you did using broad language: there's no need to get into details unless asked. Then show the impact and explain why you were successful. Here is an answer example: "The issue was that the teacher was going into too much detail with one student. She would start explaining one sentence to the student, and the other students would start spacing out. So I told the teacher what she was doing; I told her why what she was doing could use improvement; then I pointed out one way she could do it better. By helping her reflect and showing her the impact of her behavior, she was much less defensive about my feedback, and her performance was increased."
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