Interview Questions for First-Year Teachers
A former student of mine who is now in his second year of college as a music education majors emailed me some interview questions a couple of weeks ago. Since many of my readers are early or pre-service teachers, I thought the answers might be useful to more than just him.
1. What discipline methods do you use? How do you get the students involved?
One of the most effective discipline techniques I have found is simply to talk less and play more. This prevents most of the misbehaviors that tend to spring up throughout the class period. Additionally, phone calls and parent contact have been invaluable tools. That also is helpful for encouraging student and parent involvement.
2. Was your first year positive? How?
The biggest positive of my first year was learning that the idealism of the university classroom is rarely the case of the reality of a struggling band program. My junior high band got straight 3s at UIL, and that was an improvement on the previous year. Classroom management was my weakest skills. I went into the year thinking that since I knew a lot about the various instruments, I would automatically be a good director. I recorded myself teaching and would go home and listen to the recordings and be amazed at how badly the students behaved. There were times throughout my first two years that I seriously considered going back to teaching private lessons. The thing that really kept me going throughout was support and contact with some of my mentors who encouraged me that I was actually a pretty good teacher and who helped me to deal with some of the classroom management struggles I went through.
3. What have you learned that will help you in the future?
How to get students quiet and keep them quiet. I was a “good kid” and so relating to the “bad kids” was a challenge for me initially. I spent the last half of my fourth semester of teaching going through trial and error finding out how to do it.
4. How well did college prepare you for the classroom?
Pedagogically, it prepared me very well. Classroom management preparation was virtually nonexistent. I learned a whole lot more through teaching private lessons, teaching master classes, and observing a wide variety of band programs.
5. Give one piece of advice for a new graduate.
Two things. 1) You don’t know everything. When you find one of the many things you don’t know how to do or how to handle, ask questions. Ask questions from anyone who will give you an answer. Some of the best stuff I picked up came from a science teacher down the hall from me my first two years. 2) Read How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie.