What Questions to Ask Before You Take a Teaching Job
Whether you’ve been teaching for decades, or you’re applying for your first job as a teacher, the interview is a harrowing process. With that being said, don’t forget that you are also interviewing them – to make sure that you’ll be a good fit in the school. Here are the top eight questions you must ask during any teacher interview:
1) How many students in each class? This is one of the most critical factors to your success as a teacher. Will you be trying to teach 12 students, or 40? If you’re teaching in a middle school or high school, how many classes will you be teaching each day?
2) What duties are required beyond teaching? In many schools, you may be required to supervise lunch or recess time, serve on a number of committees, or lead students in after-school clubs or sports. If you are expected to fulfill these additional roles, now is the time to find out, rather than on your first day at the school.
3) How much prep time will you have, and what curriculum do they follow? This is the part of a teacher’s job that is most misunderstood by outsiders. How much time is provided within the school day for you to prepare for classroom activities? How much are you expected to do at home, on your own time? Are you expected to come up with the lessons from scratch, or does the school follow a particular curriculum, leaving little leeway for teachers to design their own plans?
4) What are the current challenges faced by the school? You’ll learn as much from how the interviewer answers this question than from their actual answers. Do they focus on discipline problems, scores on standardized tests, or some other issue? Regardless, it is important that you understand the school’s situation before accepting a job there.
5) What are the school’s discipline and safety challenges? Do you need to worry about students bringing guns and knives to school, or will your biggest problem be cell phones in the classroom? Don’t take your interviewer’s word for it – ask around. Walk the hallways to get a sense for whether you would feel safe at the school. Also ask the interviewer about the school’s approach to classroom discipline.
6) What is your teacher turnover like? Can you tell me why those employees left? Expect answers like moving, pregnancy, or becoming a stay at home parent. Avoid schools that are reluctant to answer, as this can indicate internal problems within the school. Perhaps teachers don’t feel safe there, or that the Principal does not support them, or there are too many conflicts between teachers.
7) What kind of resources can the school offer me as a new teacher there? This may include laptops, workshops, discretionary funding, mentors, and specialists. In short, make sure the school will provide you with the support you need to be successful!
8) What is the student population like? Is it a low-income population? Are there many students learning English as a second language? Are parents very involved in the school? These things are good to know ahead of time so that you can be prepared to support the student population at the school.