Mark Twain once famously summed up the difficulty of teaching, saying, “Being a teacher is like trying to keep 35 corks under water at the same time.” Despite the fact that this profession is undeniably challenging, many feel a calling to dedicate their lives to the task of teaching children. If you have long dreamed of teaching youngsters the basic skills they will require for survival in life, finding employment as a primary school teacher is the first step to realizing your ambitions. Improve your chances of landing that primary teaching job by nailing your all-important interview.
Prepare a Portfolio
While the hiring committee may be able to say no to you with relative ease, they may struggle more to say no to the smiling faces of children you have educated in the past. Create a portfolio featuring lesson plans, handouts, project examples and, most important, pictures of past students. As you move through the interview, refer to the contents of the portfolio. For example, if you are asked a question about how you effectively engage your naturally energetic youngsters, instead of struggling to paint a picture with words, open up your portfolio to pictures of a particularly engaging lesson you have tried and let these images serve as proof of your skill.
Share Your Philosophy
To many, teaching is more than just a career, it’s a calling. The hiring committee will almost certainly be unimpressed if you convey the idea that you only selected teaching because you were eager to have your summers off. They, instead, are looking for a motivated and dedicated teacher who will give her all to her students. Show that you are that person by sharing your philosophy of education with the interview committee. You likely composed one of these documents when in college, but if you didn’t, it’s not too late to whip up another paper. This concise one-page piece should explain what you view as important to properly educating students and how the education you provide mirrors these priorities. Share this with the interview committee by referencing it often as you answer questions. While this type of statement may seem unimportant, it truly does much to show that you are an introspective and prepared educator.
Study up on Child Development
As a primary school teacher, your job won’t be simply to teach students the rudimentary reading, writing and arithmetic lessons they will need to succeed later in their schooling--you must also help your students successfully navigate through this period of major emotional and physical development. Because of this dual duty, hiring committees will often expect you to be well-versed in the basics of child development. Crack open the college textbook you are currently using as a doorstop and note some terms to throw out in the interview. If you can toss out phrases like Zone of Proximal Development and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you will likely be able to leave a lasting impression on your interviewers.
When you are in an interview, you must take on the role of salesperson. The interview committee will not know how skilled you are and how much you can help their school if you don’t tell them. Take any opportunity you have to share your tangible and intangible skills. Instead of sharing these skills in broad statements and saying things like “I am responsible,” always provide concrete examples. For instance, explain that you were so responsible during your student teaching assignment that the administration put you in charge of the crossing guard program.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.