From all my research and my 29 years of teaching experience, I can honestly say that I am still surprised at how many teachers still get these interview questions wrong:
“What can you tell me about your classroom management plan.”
“How do you handle classroom management issues?”
“Share a time on how you handled a difficult student.”
The truth is...how you answer the "classroom management" question can be the difference between getting that perfect teaching job or not getting a teaching job at all.
Without a doubt, at some point in your teacher interview you will always, always, always be asked some type of classroom management question.
However, like I said, this is where many potential teachers fail the interview.
Here are some tips...
First of all make sure you clearly express that classroom management is not about rewards and punishments.
It is about keeping your students actively involved in all of your lessons.
And that you are a proactive teacher as opposed to a reactive teacher.
Make sure to explain to your potential employer that the best "classroom management plan" is a strong "instructional plan".
In other words, you do not rely on elaborate systems of rewards and punishments to address classroom management issues, but instead you find it much more effective to be proactive.
Next, at this point in your answer, it is very effective to explain the major reasons "why" classroom management issues occur and "how" you plan on addressing those classroom management issues.
Just to give you an idea, I might say something like this...
"Classroom management issues arise for 2 main reasons:
1) boredom and 2) confusion
Addressing both of these issues starts from the second the students enter the classroom. By keeping students actively involved throughout the lesson the students will not get bored."
Of course, you need to explain how you’re going to do this.
You must show your interviewers that you’re not all theory, but that you actually apply what you say to the classroom.
Your answer must be as specific as possible with actual examples from actual lessons.
You have to show the interviewers what it looks like if they were visiting your class.
For example, I would explain how I use teaching strategies such as the "all-write" and the "pair & share" to increase class participation from 10% to 100%.
Classroom Management Strategies How To Keep Students Actively Involved In Your Lessons
THE ALL WRITE , THE PAIR/SHARE & THE COOPERATIVE JIGSAW
Here are three very simple and important strategies you can use in your interview and in your classroom. The first is the ALL WRITE strategy followed by the PAIR/SHARE.
Both of these strategies create a classroom with 100% participation, both strategies increase confidence and learning, and both strategies can and should be incorporated into all the other strategies and methods that you currently use.
The "all write" is, again, a very simple strategy.
The "all write" strategy simply has all your students write an answer to a question that you posed rather than responding aloud.
The reasons for this are also simple. By having all students write an answer to the question, you have gotten 100% of your class to respond to that question.
If they don’t know the answer, have them write down the question and then the answer once it is discussed.
Here is an example from a lesson on the building of the Panama Canal from my 8th grade social studies class.
The following is a simple closure question at the end of that lesson:
Teacher: Now I would like you to all write down an answer to a question.
There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer. It's all how you back up (support) your answer. The question is based on the four different types of foreign policy that we have been discussing in this unit, and based on today’s lesson about the U.S. building of the Panama Canal.
Here’s the question: Which type of foreign policy would you argue (higher order thinking skill) the U.S. was using in building the Panama Canal?
Classroom Management Strategies: How To Keep Students Actively Involved In Your Lessons
You have three minutes to write an answer to the question. How much time do you have, Juan?
Juan: 3 minutes (or “pass”).
Teacher: And what am I asking you to do, Zach? (notice: ask the question, then name the student.)
Teacher: What am I asking you to do, Ryan? (notice: I did not criticize Zach. I simply went on to the next student.)
Ryan: Write down what type of foreign policy the U.S. was using when building the Panama Canal.
Teacher: Zach, what am I asking you to do? (notice: I went back to the student that "passed".)
Zach: Write down what type of foreign policy the US was using in building the Panama Canal.
Teacher: You have three minutes … Go. (set timer)
I want to focus on what the students do when their three minutes is over.
The second strategy is the PAIR/SHARE.
The PAIR/SHARE allows the students to teach and learn from each other, and also gives the teacher time to implement the next strategy.
The PAIR/SHARE is simply telling the student that they now have to share their answer with their partner. Just remember to give the students a specific amount of time.
The third strategy is THE COOPERATIVE JIGSAW.
The Cooperative Jigsaw is a fantastic method that, if done correctly, has tremendous results. I use this strategy often in my own classroom.
However, you should be warned, it can be time consuming.
How it works is really very simple and it can be used for any subject at any level of education. In fact, the Jigsaw is a great way to turn a dull lesson that struggles into capture the student’s attention into a lesson where EVERY student is actively involved.
Here’s how it works:
- Decide how many things you are teaching (i.e. 5 causes of Industrial Growth).
- Divide students into the number of groups equal to the number of things you are teaching. For example, if I am teaching 5 causes of Industrial Growth, I will split the students into 5 groups. (Of course, my room layout will already be set up in 5 groups when the students come into the room—ahh…how I love to save time!!)
- Each group then has a specific time limit to become an expert on one thing. For example, each group will receive information on 1 of the 5 causes of Industrial Growth, and each group will become an expert on their particular cause.
And, I would also "walk" my potential employer through an actual lesson that exemplified how to pull-off a cooperative learning activity, such as a "cooperative jigsaw", without any classroom management problems.
All of these activities keep students actively involved.
It reduces boredom.
It limits the opportunity for classroom management issues to arise in the first place.
However, that only addresses the "boredom" issue.
The other major reason classroom management issues arise has to do with "student confusion".
Make sure to explain how important it is for teachers to anticipate and clear up any possible confusion about what the students are to do.
Let your interviewer know that you plan to clearly post your daily agenda and objectives to limit student confusion AND that you will certainly discuss both at the beginning of every lesson.
Remember, these things should not be a surprise to your students.
Also, explain how you "check-for-understanding" throughout the lesson by simply having students repeat back your directions.
By letting your interviewers know that you understand why classroom management issues arise and how to address these issues BEFORE problems arise you will definitely ace the most important question in the teacher interview.