My second and third district interviews were last week. One of these districts I had interviewed with before. The other one was new so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately, a teacher from that district gave me some very good pointers which helped me in my interview. 

More distinctive advice came from a friend of mine who graduates with her Associates this week. (Congrats to you, Peaceful Lee!) This fantastic woman adds a touch of insanity to life which keeps me sane, and consistently makes me laugh to tears with her college experiences, mom experiences, and some ridiculously inane joke about beans. Her candid responses to everything are funny yet uncannily appropriate, and amaze me every time. So, I was mentioning my concerns about my upcoming interview and she started giggling. I looked at her. “What?” 

“You know what you should do?” she said between giggles, “You should answer all of your questions in interpretive dance.” Then, you see, I would definitely stand out from the rest of the rabble. 

As I laughed at this unlikelihood (she could get away with it but not me), the afore-mentioned teacher, who was with us, grinned and admitted, “Nobody’s ever done that before.” Peaceful Lee then proceeded to demonstrate various moves that I could do to impress the district, ignoring the odd stares she was attracting from people nearby as we joined in her laughter. After wiping my eyes, I lamented, “Great. Now when the interviewer asks me, ‘What is your teaching philosophy?’ all I’m going to be able to think about are various poses for terms like respect, unity, and critical thinkers.” Then, with a perfectly straight face, she suggested a hair-do to help me literally stand out from the rest. (Flat out no on the afro, Peaceful Lee. Sorry.) It was nice to laugh to ease some anxiety.

Interview day arrived. The district was well-represented by someone who wanted excellent, professional teachers. Very good. Things were going along smoothly until she asked, “How organized are you?” How what? Not just if, but how? No, the number scale didn’t come to mind at all. (“Oh, about an 8, though to others it may look like a 3.”) All I could think of was those surveys where you have to answer Very, Average, Somewhat, or Not At All. After a very unprofessional “Uuuhhh . . . ” I came up with, “Very . . .?” And before I could elaborate she asked why it was important for me to have an organized lesson. Whew. That one I knew. The other question that stumped me was, “Do you want your students to like you?” Whoa. This is a very loaded question. You have to understand that many teaching books have many different ideas on this topic. We are told good teachers love all of their students, and our students will respect us as we are consistently professional and fair. Some books say we don’t need to “love” our students. We can “like” them (do you love me or like me? Please check a box.), but apparently we teachers shouldn’t need our students to like us in return because we just aren’t that needy. Other books say it’s irrelevant whether they like us or not. We are not the student’s best friend; we are their adult mentor. They don’t necessarily have to like us to learn from us. (Yes, I agree. And looking back this probably should have been my answer. But I already had a brain freeze and couldn’t even think of a word like “irrelevant.” Sigh) All of this raced through my head as I thought what the best answer would be here. It felt like a trick question. But I knew I had to be honest. I looked at her and answered clearly, “Yes.” Before I could clarify by adding “But it doesn’t matter if they don’t,” or “I’m not going to behave just so they do,” the interviewer asked, “Why is it important for your students to like you?” Oh, goodness. Why? I was close to simply saying, “Because it’s nice.” But the setting didn’t feel quite right for that. So, after another awkward but brief, “Um,” I bumbled something more professional about if they like me they may enjoy the class more or actually want to come yadda yadda. I grinned hopefully and the interviewer thanked me and checked a box on my rating sheet. 

All in all, I think the interview went fine. Later, I joked with Peaceful Lee that interpretive dance never came to mind (I was still stuck on how organized I was), though maybe demonstrating those two unforeseen questions might have given a more accurate answer than my explanation. It definitely would have made me more memorable. Most likely it would have sent up too many red flags. 

The other interview went fine. I was pleased with the whole situation as I left. I could answer all the questions immediately and it was nice to be able to use my portfolio, which takes some time to prepare.

Maybe I’ll save dancing for the first day of school (and I really do hope those schools call soon!!). We do, after all, have to have some surprises.