Last week, I was asked to do a interview by a student going to school to become a teacher. If you are in school for teaching, then you will also have to do an interview similar to this at some point. I decided to share my answers here because I hope that it can help someone else. Every state, city, school and school district is going to be different. All I can do is give you an account of my experiences and hope that it helps! Keep reading for my interview
What is a typical work day like for you?
- My contract hours are from 7:25 am to 4:00 pm. I typically arrive about 7:00 am, in order to get set-up for the day. The scholars come in at 7:30 am, so it would throw me off to come in at the same time as them. The school I work at has two teachers to every classroom. My co-teacher and I take turns teaching throughout the day.
What is your position/title? What are your responsibilities?
- I am a Kindergarten Co-Teacher. My responsibilities are virtually the same as a Kindergarten Teacher. I teach, assist scholars who don’t understand the the content and so much more. I assist scholars when my co-teacher is teaching and my co-teacher assists the scholars when I am teaching. The main difference is that I don’t have my Master’s Degree yet. I also am paid less than my co-teacher.
Why does this field of work interest you and how did you get started?
- I have always loved working with children. Even as a child, I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher at the elementary level. I think that it is important to encourage children and teach them to love learning, especially at a young age. I work in a charter school in an urban school district. The children in these areas are often treated differently (whether we want to admit it or not). I grew up in charter schools and I remember how our teachers treated us. Even though I am just one teacher, I would like to think that I have as much of an impact on one student, that my second grade teacher had on me.
How did you get your job? What experiences have led you to this career/occupation?
- I graduated Suma Cum Laude (4.0) with my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. I do not have my initial teaching certificate and that was a bit of a problem. I was told that I was hired for my amazing grades and my previous work experience. I went to a community college for my Associate’s Degree and was able to student teach for four semesters more than someone who had gone straight to a 4-year school. This college experience led to my position as a Lead Pre-K teacher in a local daycare. This daycare was learning based and not play based. This basically means that we followed a curriculum and had a structured day similar to that of a school. All of these experiences led to me getting the job that I have now.
What skills are most important in doing this job well? What personal traits are needed?
- This is a hard question to answer. I would say that it is important to be adaptable. With each new principal and co-teacher, expectations will change. You just have to be able to adapt and remember that you are there for the children. I also think it’s really important to have patience. Going off of my experience in a suburban area, it was amazing to me to see that our urban children were so far behind. It was a struggle for me because I had such high expectations after leaving a preschool and starting at an elementary school. I am a first year teacher and I hadn’t realized there would be such a difference. I was easily frustrated in the beginning and had to learn to be patient and change the way that I taught in order to better reach each scholar.
What does the company do to contribute to the employees’ overall professional development?
- My school is not like most. We have professional development every Monday for an hour, every Thursday for 50 minutes and every third Friday for 3 hours. It is a bit excessive, I will admit. I like that we are constantly being taught and informed of changes, but I do think it is a little excessive.
What interests you least about your current job? What causes the most stress for you on the job?
- I love what I do. I genuinely love teaching and I don’t think I could ever do anything else. The stress comes from some of my coworkers. I think some of them have been teaching for a long time and they may have lost sight of the reason they are there. It’s stressful for me because I try not to get involved in situations that are not my business. But, my priority is the students and helping them to succeed. It hurts my heart that not all teachers feel the same way.
How would you describe the working conditions/climate
- No complaints here. I worked in a preschool before this and we never had supplies. I’ve student taught in public schools before and we never had supplies. I think that this is a bit of a step-up. There are definitely room for improvements but overall, I like it.
How did you college experience prepare you for this job?
- I started at community college in order to pay school off and incur as little debt as possible. I graduated with my Associates in Early Childhood Education. I originally planned to go to a private school after that, which would certify me in Birth-2nd grade. Due to my insane fear of debt, I ended up joining a cohort program that allowed me to continue my education at the same price. So, I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education with no certification. Most importantly, I graduated with no debt. I am now going back to school, online, to receive my Master’s in Childhood Education which will lead to certification. When I finish, I will receive a raise and my job title will change to Kindergarten Teacher. I will also be able to teach at a public school if I wish
What kinds of experience would you suggest for someone wanting to enter this field?
- Get in the classroom as soon as possible. There are so many options; volunteering, tutoring, student teaching and so on.
- Even starting at a preschool or daycare at the Pre-K or Kindergarten level will help you to gain experience.
Is there flexibility related to dress, work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, etc?
- Yes, for the most part we can wear whatever we want as long as it is work appropriate. I typically like to dress more business casual because that’s just my style. Some of the other teachers like to really dress down. The work hours are not flexible. They are contract hours and employees are expected to be there on time and remain there until the work day is over. We are given 8 days or 64 hours of personal time. But, we also have Fall, Winter and Spring break. We have holidays and summers off as well. So, in my personal opinion, there is more than enough vacation time.
Are there certain types of employees who are more successful than others in this profession?
- Flexibility, adaptation and listening skills are key. Your lesson plan will not always be perfect. Your activities will not always interest the kids. No teacher is perfect. But, the most successful teachers are the ones who recognize that and are willing to adapt. Teachers have to listen to other teachers because it always helps to get a second opinion. No teacher ever failed from having too much help. Recognize when you need help and accept it. In the end, a successful teacher is able to put their pride aside and do what is best for the students.
I am willing to answer any other questions that you guys may have in mind. I am a first year teacher and can only go off of my current experience.But, for me, this is life as a teacher.