Thursday, 26 January 2012

Teacher Interview Advice: Special Education: A Rising Interview Presence

Some years ago as a professor at Georgian Court University, I was involved in a faculty round table to discuss means by which our program could better prepare students for the classroom. Chief among our concerns was how classes were now including a growing number of special needs students. Teachers could be faced with learning disabilities ranging from mild ADD through children on the autism spectrum or even Down syndrome. As this trend was likely to accelerate, we all agreed more preparation was required.

As might be expected, school administrators now have an increased focus on hiring teachers capable of handling such special needs students. Over the past years, there has been a rising presence of questions dealing with special education on all interviews....and you need to be ready. If badly handled, these questions are quite capable of being deal-breakers; be careful not to underestimate their importance. Look at this sample question from a principal at an Ohio middle school. I chose this item because you might well see something like it on interviews at any grade level.

Q. As a seventh grade teacher, you will be working with a number of students who have special needs. It is vitally important such students be given every opportunity to learn and prosper in your class. Tell the committee the steps you will take to reach that goal.

This is very general question and allows you great latitude in your answer; however, there are several key elements you must include. Let's look at how you might approach this question. As with much of my earlier advice, answers become stronger when they are framed around broad themes and delivered in a one, two, three sequence. In this case you might break your response into three separate categories: 1) your work with the case manager and controlling documents, 2) your plans for the home, and 3) individual classroom actions. By dividing the response into sections, you show sound prior thought and make your answer more memorable. Now move on to how this might be accomplished.

The first and most essential element is your work with the case manager. Put the committee on notice that the guiding document for your work with every special needs student is the IEP. You will want a copy of this before the first class meets, and you will want to meet with the student's case manager to establish a great opening plan. In your discussion, speak to an ongoing cooperation with the special education department to both monitor each student's weekly progress, and what specific adjustments might be made to promote the best results.

In your second area, describe just how you plan to communicate with the parents and home. Speak directly to ways parents will be invited to work with you on behalf of their student. Outline times when parents might be invited into your class to participate in special events. If you will have a class website or homework hotline, underscore where this might be targeted to your special needs students. It is important to demonstrate how essential you see home participation to be in your class.

The last area of focus is specific teacher strategies you might employ. Tell the committee how everything will be based on individual circumstances, but you will have a wide range of teacher actions designed to accommodate individual student needs. Then list off a series of five or six strategies. These have to reflect your particular teaching stance; however, here are several you might consider: special test or quiz accommodations, learning centers, manipulatives, multi-means assessment, differentiated learning, diagnostic teaching, graphic organizers, student learning choices, word walls, and so forth. There are literally dozens of great ideas, and you will need to identify a solid five or six that fit your teaching style. The key is to quickly identify and give a short description of each. Be prepared for a follow-up question that asks for more detail on any specific item you provide.

Complete your answer by noting how every plan will need to be thoroughly targeted to the best ideas available for that student. Underscore how you will cooperatively develop and monitor the plan with the case manager. At the end of the day, you want every student to leave your class feeling like the day was worthwhile and that you genuinely cared about his or her success.

A final thought is this question needs to be pre-designed. There is better than a 50% chance you will see this topic during your interview. Most candidates will not have done the necessary planning, and will not come ready with an answer. You will! Get your ideas on paper, study them, and go take the competition by storm! Good luck.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Careers in Education and Teaching

Education is one of the major sources of mass employment. The fact is evident from concern of the government toweards providing Universal Elementary Education. To fullfil this goal a comprehensive programme called Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was launched in November 2000 in partnership with the states, to improve the performance of the schools through community owned approach and to impart quality elementary education to all children in the age group of 6-14 by 2010.

These days mushrooming public and private schools have opened up career avenues for teachers in large scale. Numbers of Institutes providing courses in teaching are also increasing at the same rate.

Teachers at various levels such as Elementary School Teachers, Secondary School Teachers are often required by the Schools and Inter Colleges. As far as Eligibility is concerned, it varies depending upon he levels at which you want to enter the field. For example, for Pre-Primary level besides possessing personality traits like love and affection for kids, patience and dedication, a montessory degree or diploma and / or a diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education is a must, if you want to become a Pre-primary Teacher. Primary and Junior Colleges need a graduate with B.Ed Degree or online teaching degree. In colleges and Universities, teachers are designated as Lecturers, Readers, Assistant Professors, Associate Professors and Professors. Only those with Ph.D are appointed / Promoted. You require a good academic record, with at least 55% marks or an equivalent grade a Master's degree level. National Eligibility Test (NET) is conducted by UGC, which a condition for appointment for all those, who do not have a Ph.D., for entry level i.e. appointment at Lectureship. In addition, in many states, State Level Entrance Test for Lectureship (SLET) for appointments within the respective States. Opportunities are also available for special educators in India and abroad. There are about 3200 such schools in india. Those with B.Ed or M.Ed in special education could also seek employment as counsellors.

Friday, 13 January 2012

An Introduction To Teacher Education

A teacher's job is a highly respected and specialized field, be it teaching kindergarten, grade school, high school, college, or post-graduate courses. Teachers are necessary in all fields of education, and in order to be teachers themselves, they need to be educated by experts in their desired fields.

Teacher education is a diverse field, covering numerous subjects and various methods of teaching. Teaching in any field is demanding and is a challenging task. Beyond regular education, some people choose to follow specialized paths, such as early childhood education or special education. These teachers need extra educational background in order to be certified to deal with their specific students. These teachers need to have extensive patience and be friendly with toddlers. Innovative play way methods need to be adopted to ensure continuing interest among kids.

Another specialized educational field is Montessori teaching. This style of teaching appears to be simple, but in reality, it is highly demanding. As this is a specific style of teaching, aimed at gifted or advanced students, with a degree of flexibility and customization not found in traditional curriculums, teachers will need to learn the best ways to work within the Montessori structure, and apply their educational background to this style of teaching.

Elementary or primary school is the backbone for all people's education. Thus, these teachers have to be able to convey basic principles, such as reading, spelling, writing and math, as well as cover basic science, social studies, and sometimes foreign language courses. Of course, all of this has to be taught in an age-appropriate fashion. Elementary teacher education focuses on methods that work best for young students.

High school teachers face challenges elementary school teachers usually do not. Because they teach teenagers who are dealing with the issues of adolescence and can often "act out," teachers need to learn how to engage and motivate this difficult age group. Subjects are taught in greater depth in high school, as well, so the teacher will need more specific knowledge. They also sometimes have to be ready to compensate for any gaps in elementary education, particularly deficiencies in the basics - reading, writing and math.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

What Can Parents Do When the Teachers and Schools Fail Their Children?

First stop remembering how it was when you went to school. Come to grips with those thoughts. You would not have to put on your boxing gloves if you sent your child to a private school, but that is a story for another day, right? Try not to go inside your closet and cry a little. You will not have to seek therapy or counsel if you follow some of the additional suggestions below.

Now, with much courage on your part, make sure you become a member of the school parent, teacher association. Become an active voice. When the group asks for volunteers for special events make sure your hand is up and ready to do some work.

Get a classroom work schedule from your child's teacher. Follow it closely and make sure your child does the work. Yes, you may have to be a police person for a while. Volunteer to help your child's teacher if you have the time. I understand there are many parents working and really do not have the time, nor the patience.

You must dissect your child's grades and measure where he or she needs that additional help. You may have to hire a tutor or send them to an after school program. It may cost a stretch, but no one said this was going to be a cake walk. There also may be after school learning program at your school. The YWCA or YMCA offers after school programs and they are not that pricey. There maybe some free ones.

Encourage the school administration, to offer accelerated learning practices. Back to school night is a perfect time to suggest to your child's teachers to use accelerated learning practices in their instruction. Do a little research on your part and try to get a specialist in the field. Do not go weepy and accept an average basic skills learning or enrichment program. You want a program that features your child learning his or her preferred learning style. Can you just imagine if your child could learn his or her learning style? Can you imagine them knowing how they learn material best? How much would that be worth to you? What price would you pay? That would be a possible ticket to doing well in class and maybe going on to college.You want a program that includes at least the following areas of concentration: multiple intelligences, progressive relaxation, visual training, brainstorming or mind mapping methods, rapid and speed reading, and how to pass any test preocedures, and my favorite learn the hottest memory techniques.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

What Is the Role of Cyber School Teachers?

A lot of cyber schools are different in the way that they handle teaching. My cyber school doesn't have set classes and all the teachers do is check your progress and grade some tests or reports. My friends, the O'wells, have set class times and online teachers that they interact with a lot more.

I have talked to my teachers through messages even though it's not mandatory. It's usually important to at least get a feel of who is grading your work, and to see what they will want. Also it allows something like asking about a grade or to reset an assignment easier and less awkward and stressful. Not to mention it a good motivation to do work correctly when you know that the grader isn't just a robot that you can pull something over its head easily.

When people hear that the teachers aren't very prominent the conversation usually takes a turn of, "Oh. Isn't that hard? I don't think I could do that."

Up to this point, it's really not that hard, but it's also not a piece of cake. The lessons that the school gives you are very nice and straight forward usually. Sometimes they will have a bit of flowery language you have to get used to, but if you read the page all the way through it's really not too hard to understand.

Of course I've had some lessons where I read the page, didn't understand it, read it again and gotten even more lost than before. When that happens I have two options.

1). E-mail the teacher of the course and wait for a response up to about 24 hours. Or my personal favorite...

2). Google it.

With online classes you have the extra advantage an ability to find other teachers online. There are a lot of things that can help get you through your dreaded math class or teach you about the Renaissance.

One thing you do have to be careful about is cheating because you will also be surprised to find how many shortcut websites that will do things for you.

Overall it is definitely something to get used to for the first couple weeks, but you soon understand how to work without teachers standing next to you or teaching you a set lesson plan each day.

So don't be too discouraged by the lack of teacher supervision, and think through the decision to do cyber school before jumping right into it.

Teacher Interviews:Handle the Tough Middle School Question on Classroom Management

Many years ago, just prior to starting my first day as a full time teacher, I can clearly remember my greatest concern; classroom management. Will I be able to control the hard-to-manage students? How will I get the more difficult students to be productive in my classroom? After many years of college teaching and supervising student teachers, I can report such concerns still rank at the top for today's teachers. Now, let me add something else; it is also a top concern for principals and supervisors hiring new staff. For that reason, you need to come to your interview ready to hit this vital area head on! So, let's take a look at a question that could easily be part of a middle school interview.

Q. Research has indicated that many disaffected students were "turned off" to education during their middle school years. What will you do to help prevent this from happening in your class?

The definitive answer to this question has escaped the best thinkers in education for many years, and it is unlikely you will suddenly crack the puzzle. Nevertheless, you must make a good presentation of ideas on this topic if you are to be a top candidate. Many great educators have written on disaffected students over the years, so you will have no trouble finding lots of terrific ideas and information on the topic. However, one word of caution; this is the kind of answer that can continue on at great length and include numerous complex strategies. Avoid this. My suggestion is to craft a compact, precise approach that can be revealed in a one, two, three delivery. Prepare an answer that contains three or four strong central ideas around which specific activities are designed. Let's quickly look at what that means and just how it might be structured. Try this.

I realize middle schools have a special responsibility to maintain productive student involvement. In my view, some of the things most responsible for student detachment from their education include: 1 a sense that school has nothing worthwhile to offer, 2 dull and boring classes, and 3 a continuing series of negative experiences and failure in past classes.

This is an especially good start because you begin with a description of the problem as you see it. Feel free to add or substitute your own thoughts on this topic, mine are here simply by way of example. From this beginning you can now attack each root cause with a specific set of activities you intend to use in your class to minimize or eliminate their impact. By way of example, your segment addressing dull and boring classes might say:

Let me continue on to the problem of dull and boring classes. To my mind, I can help offset this problem by breaking down each lesson into smaller, manageable parts, then include one or two high interest activities requiring students to "engage the ideas" and not just "hear about" those ideas. These activities are monitored, include accountability factors, and maintain the momentum of the day's lesson. By using a variety of teaching platforms such as two-way discussions, videos, SmartBoard applications, novelty, humor, anecdotes, and dynamic group interactions I can promote both student interest and involvement. Their attention is focused more on the joy of learning and not the routine of repetition. Such lessons will rarely, if ever, be seen as boring and dull.

Here, in one simple statement you have outlined over ten different ideas that target a key problem identified in your opening. It is concise, powerful and will get the attention of your committee. You will need a similar approach for all three identified problem areas, and you should prepare them in advance. For part one, speak directly to how you would maximize student understanding of each lesson's purpose; how meaning might be introduced. In part three, describe your practices to improve individual success and a feeling of meaningful accomplishment. In one, two, three order, attack every problem area with a strong line of power-packed strategies.

A word of warning needs to be added. If I, or someone like me, is conducting your interview, be prepared for a follow-up question or two. For example, I am going to press you for more information on just what kinds of "innovative" activities you might include. I will want to know more about that "accountability" comment. How will you structure that? Or I might ask you to describe one of your SmartBoard lessons. I tell you this so that as you consider what to include in your answer, limit yourself to only those items with which you have some familiarity and the ability to expand.

In summing up, the key to classroom management questions is preparation. Many candidates will come to their interview with only the ideas gathered through college study and/or limited experience. These are often good, but they have no shape. The candidates are not able to quickly organize them into a powerful delivery. By having thought this through and written down your ideas beforehand, you will be ready with a clear, sharp answer that is certain to make a great impact on your committee. So get started and good luck!!

My name is Robert W. Pollock. I am an educator, with over 34 years experience, a speaker, a consultant, and the author of 'Teacher Interviews. How to Get Them & How to Get Hired!. I have spoken to 1,000's of prospective teachers on how to interview and get the job. I have consulted with numerous schools around the country. Currently I am a professor of Education at Tusculum College, Knoxville, TN, where I also serve as the president of their alumni board.