Reading specialists work closely with students to develop strong reading habits that can help them succeed in any subject in which reading plays a role. Interviewing for a reading specialist job requires you to confidently relay your ideas regarding reading and the teaching of reading. Specifically, when interviewing for a reading specialist job, you should be prepared to cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from your personal teaching and reading philosophies to your specific, practical strategies for teaching and developing strong reading skills.
Philosophy and Practice
Interviewers will ask many questions about both your reading philosophy and how that philosophy translates to your teaching practices. For example, interviewers might want to know if you approach reading from a phonics or holistic philosophy. That is, do you encourage students to make meaning by starting small with parts of words and building up (phonics), or do you encourage students to make meaning by considering the meaning of the whole piece of reading first and work your way back to individual sentences and words (holistic)? Prepare for the interview by drafting a teaching philosophy statement, which you can either give to your interviewers or simply speak from during the interview.
When speaking about your teaching philosophy and ideas of best practices, you should always anchor your words in concrete teaching experiences you’ve had in your career. It is likely you will have already provided interviewers with a resume or curriculum vitae prior to interviewing for the job, but you should also make a mental list of specific experiences you’ve had as a reading specialist that you think will be significant to mention in an interview. For example, you could speak about a former student who showed tremendous reading progress over the course of your time with her. Or, you could speak about a particularly challenging student and what strategies you used to help him approach reading more thoughtfully. By speaking about your experiences, you provide your interviewers with a clearer sense of how you operate on the job.
Strategies for Students
Schools searching for reading specialists will be interested in your specific strategies for working with students, either in your own stand-alone class or as a support person working in other classes. Interviewers may ask to see a portfolio of graphic organizers or worksheets that you use with students, such as Know/Want to Know/Learned (KWL) charts or vocabulary lists. They may also ask to see specific lesson or activity plans you’ve used, such as journals or student-generated test questions. In some interviewing processes, schools will ask you to conduct a sample lesson or activity with a small group of students from the school.
Strategies for Teachers
Interviewing schools will also be interested in understanding how you see your work as a reading specialist as complementing or supplementing the work of other teachers in the school. Interviewers will likely ask you about your goals when working with other teachers, as well as ways you’ve developed for incorporating your reading activities into different subjects and their curricula. For example, interviewers may ask you how you can generate activities that could help a 7th grade history teacher who is having her students read primary historical documents like letters or an 11th grade science teacher who has asked her students to read and respond to a peer-reviewed science journal article.
Samuel Hamilton has been writing since 2002. His work has appeared in “The Penn,” “The Antithesis,” “New Growth Arts Review" and “Deek” magazine. Hamilton holds a Master of Arts in English education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts in composition from the University of Florida.