The interviewer wants to hear that you are passionate about the topics which you teach. As a teacher, you are a motivator. It is your responsibility to provide a positive learning environment for all of your students. If you feel mediocre about the topics you are teaching, that will be clear the interviewer. As you prepare for your interview, think about examples of when you have taught your favorite topic and why you enjoyed teaching it.
"I enjoy teaching about citizenship because I am teaching about my favorite topics: human rights, equality, and freedom. My passion is apparent in my enthusiasm, and in the way I creatively present the topics. I like to facilitate discussions and role play. I want my students to know their rights and know their duty to their fellow citizens."
"Here are some social studies topics that you could mention, and suggested by the National Council for the Social studies - Culture - Time, Continuity, and Change - People, Places, and Environments - Individuals, Groups, and Institutions - Individual Development and Identity - Production, Distribution, and Consumption - Power, Authority, and Governance - Science, Technology, and Society - Civil Ideals, and Practices "
"I find social studies to be such a robust subject. If I had to choose one particular area of interest, I would choose Civil Ideals and Practices. I love to teach students about their rights as citizens, and more about the inner workings of a democracy."
There are many reasons why you may have chosen the teaching field. You may naturally have the knack for teaching. You might have been inspired by a teacher you had in high school. Share your passion for teaching. Why is education important to you? Think about the aspects of teaching that bring you the most joy.
"I have always loved working with children. I enjoy their energy and their excitement about learning. It is such an honor to be in a position to influence them and share knowledge that will help shape them as they grow up."
"I always knew I wanted to become a teacher and follow in the footsteps of both my parents. I am great coach and love to learn so this line of work comes very naturally to me."
"I love to inspire, and guide others. Being a teacher, I can do this on a daily basis. I would love to expand my teaching experience by furthering my education to include a Masters' degree in Education."
It's important to be able to measure how your students are doing so that you can identify gaps and know how to move forward with your teaching. Maybe you conduct a daily quiz or assign homework after teaching a new topic to measure how well your students are retaining the information. Describe some ways that you do this.
"Every morning we have a quiz over the material from the day before. It's a participation grade, but it helps me to tell how well the students are understanding the material. It's been effective for me to make adjustments and know what areas to focus more time on."
"While completing my Bachelor's Degree in Education, we explored a variety of methods for student assessment which included concept maps, exams of varying kinds, and assessing students in group work. Are there any types of assessments you prefer to use at your school?"
"Aside from tests, I believe that student learning can be assessed through group work. I like to see which students rise in group projects and which ones tend to float, waiting for others to do the work or come up with the answers. From there, I can guide those students."
You may plan to continue working as a teacher for a long time. Maybe you are interested in moving into the administrative side, working as a principal or superintendent of schools. Your goal could also be to complete your masters, furthering your education. Showing that you are interested in growing on a personal and a professional level is essential to convey to your interviewer. You want to show how your goal is relevant to the position you are interviewing for. Talk about how the position will help you reach your goals, giving as much detail as possible.
"My goal is to teach college-level Sociology in the next eight years, so I am taking online courses to complete my masters. I'm looking forward to the challenge of teaching at a higher level. Teaching high school social studies at your school will give me the experience I need to get closer to accomplishing my goal."
"I am new to my teaching career which means that my primary goal right now is to carve a name for myself in the industry. I want to continue learning from more experienced teachers, and create amazing lesson plans."
"This teaching position is the next goal I have set for myself as a teacher. I want the opportunity to lead a social studies department with the support of a teachers' assistant and talented administrative staff. Once I have shown my capabilities, I would love to work my way into the role of departmental head."
As a teacher, it's up to you to make the curriculum applicable to your students. It can't always be relevant but it can be made easier to digest. Think of an example of a topic that was very difficult to teach because it was a little beyond the scope of your students. How did you present the material? Sometimes it comes down to your passion for the subject and how you interact with the students. If you give them an activity to do in groups or alone that interests them, the topic can be that much more interesting. Incorporating elements of your teaching style will help in your example. Also sharing tools and techniques you have learned are other ways to make the curriculum more interesting to your students.
"In order to make a curriculum more relevant to the lives of my students, I choose topics that are relatable and current. I study a lot of pop-culture and try to incorporate the current happenings into my lesson plans."
"I want to get to know my students, and what excites them. I think it's important to take suggestions from them on what they want to hear more about, and which current events they find most riveting. Of course, I need to stick with the curriculum, but I can always find ways to incorporate their interests at the same time."
"I have developed an excellent curriculum over the years, but I do change it every year to reflect the current social issues that my students face. As a social studies teacher, being relevant and in the now is especially important. I am an excellent listener and always accept feedback from my students."
Are you just looking for a job or are you genuinely interested in what this school has to offer you? It's important to know the values of the school and what they are doing for their students that stand out. What are they doing for their teachers? How is their education program better than others? Maybe you want to grow in your knowledge or expertise teaching differently and the school offers the means to do that. Show how you share their values and discuss your passion for education. Learn more about the school by talking to teachers who work there to get a better picture of their culture and their views on education. Research test scores or graduation statistics. Think about what is important to you in a place that you work and learn about how this school compares to your values.
"Your school has a reputation for creating a learning environment that encourages students to be open-minded and thinks for themselves. I want my students to be proud of their individuality and ask hard questions."
"I have had my eye on your school ever since I applied here for my practicum. My professor recommended your school, citing that he knew many students who came to teach here and loved it."
"I want to work at this school because you offer the growth I have been looking for, for some time. Your student body is substantial compared to my current school, and I see that you are more technologically advanced than many learning environments."
The interviewer wants to learn your process of lesson planning. Everyone may have different steps that they take, but you will want to address a few key points. Some examples might be: 1) What do I want my students to learn? 2) What activities will I use? 3) How will I check for understanding? Give the interviewer your structure for planning. For the activity, you may want to give an example such as a game, writing exercise, or discussion topics. Sometimes it's easier to discuss an actual lesson plan you taught in the past and explain how you came up with it. This is a question you want to be prepared with examples and details. They may ask you, "why" after you explain your process, so be prepared to talk about your method in depth.
"I feel that the most important step to developing a lesson plan is first to set my learning objectives. Then, write a very clear outline. The final step would be for me to set learning timelines and deadlines for each."
"When I am developing my lesson plan, I first assess what the learning goals are in the classroom as a whole, and then I assess per student. Once that is figured out, I plan my timeline to ensure deadlines are met, and lessons don't go over time."
The interviewer wants to know that you encourage your students to be creative and that you have tactics for adapting your material to promote creativity. Give examples of different topics you teach creatively. Depending on the age group you may have more opportunities to be creative. For example, with middle schoolers, you could have them do a project where they create their tribe based on what you learned about the Native American tribes. Show that you can think outside of the box and that you are willing to take the curriculum into your own hands to make it easier to digest.
"I like to encourage creativity through the use of music, new technology-based tools, and multi-media. Students love the variety, and the more I offer, the more fun they have in the classroom."
"I have found many ways to increase creativity in the classroom. Some of my favorite ways to do this are to create in-class awards, host open-discussions, go on outside field trips, and encourage deeper emotional connections between the students. What are some of your favorite ways to encourage creativity in the classroom?"
As a social studies teacher, you will always have a challenging student, or four, in your classroom! The interviewer wants to be assured that you can handle these circumstances with grace and professionalism. Sometimes all you can do is be supportive by spending time with struggling students, teaching them about time management, and encouraging them to seek extra help on their own. You may have had a challenging student who was disruptive in class. How you handle these types of difficulties tells the interviewer that you have the skills to deal with challenging students and that you will be equipped to handle them in the future.
"I had a student with a mild learning disability. There were several areas where he was struggling that made it difficult for him to master the material for the class. I wanted him to do well in my class and his high school career, so I did what I could to support him by communicating with the reading teacher and some other teachers to give him a better support system."
"While completing my practicum, I worked as a teachers' aide for a Grade 8 classroom. The neighborhood where the school was located had a diverse demographic. This was a challenge for me because some students were rougher around the edges than I was accustomed to. I overcame this challenge by getting to know the students on a more personal level. The trust relationship we developed over 12 weeks was incredible."
"I have had many challenging experiences over my eight-year teaching career. The most challenging experience I have had came during my time as a substitute teacher. Being a substitute is very challenging because you don't necessarily have a connection with the students yet you need them to be engaged in the classroom. I overcame this by spending the first 10 minutes of each class getting to know my students with a quick exercise. I would also let them ask a few questions about me. It helped a great deal during my challenging times as a substitute teacher."
Think about the work environment you thrive in. What do you need to be successful? People who motivate you and encourage you to be the best version of yourself always makes a difference in the workplace. Give an example from your experience of people you either currently work with or have worked with in the past that help you stay motivated and keep going, even during stressful times.
"Although I am excited about this new opportunity, I am sad to leave my current job because I work with such a tight group. My coworkers and I encourage and motivate each other, and we all have a strong work ethic and strive to keep the environment positive and upbeat."
"I work best with people who are positive, driven, and committed to making every day their best day. I am a very positive person and work best with those who see the brighter side of things, most of the time. Would you say this is the type of work environment here?"
"I understand that your work environment is very collaborative. I come from a similar environment and found that I could be very productive when there was the "buzz" of a motivated team around me. I can also be productive in quieter environments although that isn't my preference."
Describe your involvement as a facilitator when you divide your students into teams for projects. How do you teach them to work together? Give an example of how you have helped your students be successful in their group projects or empowered them to resolve a conflict by giving them tools to address issues themselves.
"I incorporate group activities to encourage students to work together and learn how to listen and communicate with each other. When my students come to me with issues about their peers, I challenge them to work things out within the group, looking for ways to compromise and divide work fairly."
"Most students are good at collaborating with their friends. With those they do not know, that can be a different story. For this reason, I plan to ensure that students don't always choose the same partners for group work. I want them to embrace diversity in the classroom, and I will encourage that regularly."
"I have my students work together on group projects a great deal. I ask them to choose a new partner every time so that they can get to know every student on their terms. This method seems to be working well for everyone. We have less in-class issues and have seen a decline in instances of bullying."
The interviewer wants to know that you feel confident in facing difficulties, especially when talking to the parents of your students. Difficult parents can be much more challenging than the students at times! When a student is struggling in your class, you might be faced with parent meetings. Speak from experience. If you haven't been in this situation before, talk about how you would handle it, drawing from your personal experience.
"I talk to the parents in the same way I approach a struggling student. I want to understand the bigger picture of what's wrong, so I ask questions and I listen. Once we identify the problem, we discuss ways that we can work together to help their child improve their results."
"I understand that some parents may be challenging. I would remind the parent that we are working together towards the same goal, which is guiding their child towards a lifetime of success in learning. I would ask the parent what their expectations are for me, as the teacher, and make a plan from there."
"Parents can be emotional when it comes to their children's performance in the classroom. Whenever I have encountered a challenging parent I will first ensure that we have clear-cut, and reasonable goals set, for all parties involved. Often a solid plan of action, written down, and signed by the parents, the student, and myself, is a great help."
The interviewer wants to see that you take the initiative to go above and beyond your job description. There are many opportunities to make a difference in your school. Joining committees and helping plan events shows that you are taking an interest in the greater good of your students and faculty.
"I helped plan the high school dances, acting as a chaperone. It was fun to work with the teachers and the parents to put together events for the students. We worked together to make it a good experience for everyone by hiring a fun DJ and having fun activities for the kids."
"During my practicum, I showed that I could be a leader by approaching the teacher whom I was assisting, with some suggestions on classroom engagement. We made a plan together to help the student's to better focus, by rearranging the seating plan and making more time for physical movement. I think she appreciated the input that I had, despite just being in a practicum placement."
"I show leadership on a daily basis by guiding my students to self-lead. I encourage them to be the best version of themselves. The best leaders are the ones who show trust in their students to make the best decisions."
Pick weaknesses that are not a core skill for this position. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness. Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center. We are all human with our weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours!
"I believe I could improve on some technical skills including Excel and PowerPoint. Currently I am at a beginner to intermediate level; however, I would be more comfortable at an advanced level. I have enrolled myself in an evening/weekend workshop for the next six weeks. We will see how stellar my skills are on that course!"
"As I am new to my teaching career, I feel that I could be better at budgeting my time when it comes to lesson plan creation. While acting as a substitute teacher last year, my classes would sometimes go over, or I didn't have the chance to cover all the material I needed. I have worked a great deal on my timing by practicing at home, and offering fewer opportunities for in-class conversations to derail us from the task at hand."
"I'd have to echo my boss and say I need to spend less time struggle with some educational policies with which I disagree. I try to walk the line of advocating for my students, and future students, while being sure to be respectful of the administration and educational system as a whole."
Which personal strengths make you an excellent social studies teacher? Advantages can be skills or qualities that help you overcome difficult circumstances or accomplish challenging tasks. In a work context, your strengths will help you to complete your to-do list, understand students needs, and guide you in your relationships with other members of your faculty. In preparing for this type of question, list your strengths. You can narrow them down by thinking about how they help you as a teacher. Think of situations where your strengths help you shine, such as dealing with an unmotivated student or when teaching a topic that most students would find uninteresting. For example, if you are an encourager and motivator, you could say that you love coaching your students. Give a specific instance, such as working with a student who was unmotivated and failing the class. This situation could incorporate multiple strengths, such as being strategic and observant, seeking to understand the problem and then coming up with a way that worked for the student to help empower them. Using examples helps the interviewer get a better picture of your strengths in action.
"Some great strengths to mention are: - Communicative - Loyal - Collaborative - Tech Savvy - Flexible in Schedule/Availability - Persistent and Determined - Eager for Knowledge/New Skills"
"My strongest skills as a teacher are my ability to be relatable and command the attention in a room. I relate to my students, get to know them and their needs, build a rapport and can make solid lesson plans that suit them."
Show the interviewer that you're interesting, and always interested. Make some connections to your teaching and tell them how you've applied or plan to apply what you've learned to reach your students, academically or otherwise.
"I recently watched a Netflix show called '13 Reasons Why' which delves deeply and unabashedly into issues many teenagers deal with but are unwilling to discuss, such as suicide, cyberbullying and rape. One of the most interesting things I learned is that a teenager's hippocampus isn't fully developed, which is why they can interpret a negative remark or dirty look as lasting and eternal. It helps me to have more patience and empathy with my more problematic students as I realize there are plenty of issues beyond the surface that I might not be aware of."
"Here is a list of things you could talk about: 1) a new hobby or sport you're passionate about 2) a new country or place traveled 3) an insightful book or TV show 4) a podcast you recently discovered"
"I recently came across this great new podcast called Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers. Every Sunday, a new 10-minute episode is posted focused on getting to the hears of educators. I highly recommend this podcast experience."
The interviewer would like to know what kind of attitude and philosophy you will bring to the school every day. Having a positive view when it comes to work is incredibly important. Talk to the hiring manager about your approach in the workplace.
"My philosophy, when it comes to teaching, is to never give up on my students. Everyone has his talents and strengths. Too often I see teachers giving up on a student because they didn't perform as well as intended initially. But perseverance is key. I've seen a transformation when a teacher is willing to spend time committing to a student and guiding them through a difficult learning curve."
"My teaching philosophy is that the classroom needs to be a safe place for everyone. Learning environments need to be comfortable where everyone feels like they are safe to contribute."
"I believe that each student has their unique way of learning which is why I incorporate a multitude of learning tools in my classroom. It gives everyone the opportunity to succeed despite their strengths or weaknesses in my learning environment."
Many employees will look for new work if they feel that they are underpaid and underappreciated. Talk to the interviewer about your current compensation and whether or not you think it is fair. If you do not feel you are currently paid what you are worth: "I know that I am underpaid compared to my industry colleagues. My company is small, and they do what they can, but this is part of why I am seeking a new position."
"I know that I am underpaid compared to my industry colleagues. My company is small, and they do what they can, but this is part of why I am seeking a new position."
"If you feel you are currently paid what you are worth: "I feel that my current employer pays me fairly; however, I would like to see an increase in pay with an increase in responsibilities."
"I trust that my employer pays me a fair wage and I look forward to further discussing compensation details with you, in regards to this opportunity."
It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of questions you could have found the answers to from merely watching a video on their company site!
"Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? Also, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, do you have internal candidates who are also interviewing for this position?"
"Here are some sample questions: - When would you like to have this position filled? - How long has this role been vacant? - Is this a replacement search or a newly created role? - What is your favorite part about working here? - What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months? - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you? - What do you see as the most significant change in this industry over the past three years? - Is there any reason why you would not hire me? "
"I appreciate you opening the floor to questions. I am curious if this is a newly created position due to growth? Also, is there any reason why you would not hire me for this position?"
The interviewer would like to know more about the types of tools you use to stay on task and meet deadlines. Discuss how you prioritize when everything demands your attention at once. Think about the ways you manage your projects and daily tasks.
"I manage my time by exercising the idea of 'time-blocking.' This means that I won't incessantly check my email; instead, I will allow myself to return emails in 30-minute time blocks, four times per day. Setting calendar alerts and personal deadlines for myself has also helped a lot."
"I like to be busy- it makes the hours pass faster and makes me feel productive. Something as simple as my iCalendar on my phone with alarms reminding me of what I'm supposed to be doing and when is helpful. I love to be busy and get things done!"
"Very carefully! I prioritize deadlines and work that needs to be done, then work backward from there. When necessary, I utilize my resources and will ask my teaching assistant to pitch in and contribute."
In which manner do you prefer to communicate - written or verbal? Discuss your preference with the interviewer and support your answer.
"I prefer verbal communication because I feel that with written communication, a lot can be misread due to lack of tone, fluctuation, expression and body language. I will always choose a face to face conversation whenever possible."
"I do not lean one way or another when it comes to verbal or written communication. Both are equally important to me. If I have to choose just one, I will choose written communication as one can always look back on written communication for reference."
"I am comfortable with both so that it would depend on the message, I suppose. Big news needs to be communicated verbally and followed up in written form, but quick messages or simple changes can be delivered effectively through email without the hassle of breaking away from work for a call or meeting."
Middle school teachers educate students, most of whom are in sixth through eighth grades. They help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult lessons they will learn in high school.