I’ve been asked for more sample answers for interviews so here are some of the recent questions I’ve been asked. There is no such thing as a perfect answer – as this will differ from school to school depending on the needs of the school. I think it’s important to write your own answers with examples from your own teaching career so that the answers don’t sound learned off or rehearsed, however I know how difficult it can be to know what to say so these sample answers will just offer some tips to get you started.
What information from standardised tests would you give to parents?
This is dependent on school policy. However, parents are entitled to ask and receive the results of their child’s standardised assessment. When discussing these test results, I think it’s very important to ensure that parents are aware that standardised tests are not always 100% reflective of the progress that a child has made throughout a school year. Usually sten scores are given to parents along with a brief summary of the bands (below average, average or above average) as seen below.
How would you involve a child who is withdraw (socially)?
There is constant pressure on children to be involved, to participate, to fully engage on yard and in the classroom. At times, children need a break and for some children yard time is a chance for them to have some time out or quiet time to reflect and process what has happened throughout the day so far. We often jump and try to solve the ‘problem’ when we see a child who is alone or doesn’t seem to have anyone to play with but in actual fact the child could just need this time alone. For other children this could be a sign that there are problems or issues that the child needs some support with. Therefore I think its important to observe the child, talk to the child and talk to other teachers who work with the child first before setting up any supports. After a week or two of observing the child, talking with the child and other teachers and the child’s parents (to see if they also have a concern), a decision can be made to set up systems to support the child or indeed allow the child to have the time to think or reflect. Some systems which might prove effective would include a buddy system whereby all children in the class are encouraged to play together and ensure that no one is left out. It could also be an idea to have ‘set’ groups of 4/5 that the children have to play in for small break and these could change on a weekly basis so that children can get to know different members of their class. In the classroom I would ensure that the child always had at least one other child who they were comfortable with near them. I would change partners regularly to ensure that children had the chance to work with different members of the class.
What extra curricular activities can you offer?
Sports – any sports that you play. (GAA, Basketball, Hockey, Athletics are all great areas to get involved in)
Music – choir, tin whistle group, grúpa trad, orchestra, composition group etc.
Other – Gaeilge club, book club, creative writing, baking, homework, drama, lego, draughts, chess etc.
You can read more about extra curricular clubs/ideas for activities here.
What aspects of a childs learning would you assess for numeracy and or literacy if you had a concern?
Through observation/teacher assessment;
- Reading; can the child read a passage fluently? can they decode tricky words? can they answer questions based on the text? can they retell the story?
- Writing; can the child write on a given topic? can they form structured sentences? can they use capital letters and full stops appropriately? is their writing legible?
- Oral language; can the child share their opinion and ideas? can they retell what they did at the weekend/their school tour etc.
- Numeracy; can the child complete basic operations? does the child know their number bonds, times tables etc. can the child complete problems given?
How does the child perform in assessments given e.g. October Maths Test/Christmas Test
Once you have a clear idea with samples of the childs work and learning – then you can complete other assessments such as Neale Analysis for Reading, Schonell Spelling/Reading Test
Speak to support teachers who may be able to complete further assessments (with parental permission) or who may be able to support the child for in class/team teaching sessions.
If you had a parent who criticised/didn’t agree with your teaching strategies how would you deal with this?
I think the most important thing to do would be to remain calm and not get upset or annoyed. Thank the parent for their feedback and explain the methods/strategies you use and how they benefit/work well in the classroom.
How do you support gifted children in your class?
I ensure that they are challenged by providing work that is appropriate to their level. I ask higher order questions to ensure they are engaged with oral activities and I give them targets to ensure they reach their full potential.
How to promote the catholic ethos in the school community?
- Prayers in the morning, at lunch time and at home time
- R.E. as a respectful, reflective time daily – using stories from the bible as a basis and integrating these stories and lessons with music, art, drama and other activities.
- Sacred space – an important area in the classroom which is cared for by one or two children each week who can choose from a range of special objects (
- Being involved in the school community – attending mass with your class (where appropriate)
A class and school initiative to improve results on word problems (maths) in standardised tests?
- Whole school approach – using RUCSAC or RUDE to teach children how to solve problems in a step by step approach.
- Daily challenges over the intercom – the principal/vice principal could announce a ‘Problem of the day’ or a ‘Special letter’ could be sent to each class with a problem to solve. The children could then work on the problem throughout the day and submit their answers to their teacher or to the principal who would then pick a winner who could receive a prize (homework pass etc.)
- Display the words that mean addition/subtraction/multiplication/division etc. everytime you come across another word – add it to the display
- Mental maths – start each maths lesson with at least 10 minutes of mental maths covering various topics and word problems too.
- Ask the children to write their own word problems on a given topic; children are given 5 minutes to write 3 word problems on addition and then swap their questions with another child and spend the next 5 minutes solving the problems.
- Maths Trails – these are a great
- Get involved with Maths Week and programmes such as Mangahigh (which is usually available to schools free of charge during Maths Week)
What are the challenges of teaching a multi-class?
I think the main challenge of teaching in a multi-class situation is planning. It is necessary to have appropriate material to cater for the level of all pupils. I think it requires a teacher to be very organised and prepared with appropriate work for each class, along with additional material for early finishers.
How do you plan?
Daily – I write a brief overview of the day in my diary (I usually do this at the beginning of the day or the evening before). I jot down what will be covered in each subject area and when the lesson has been completed I tick it off or add short notes depending on how the lesson went. By doing this daily, I ensure that I have all the materials I need e.g. hands on materials, photocopies/books, interactive materials etc.
Weekly/Fortnightly – I complete detailed fortnightly plans which cover everything I will do in each subject area. These plans are based on my termly plans.
Monthly – I tick my fortnightly plans and write up a Cuntas Míosúil which shows everything that was completed in the month.
Termly – My termly plans include the strands and strand units (from the curriculum), along with the objectives and skills/concepts that will be developed. I also include methods of differentiation and assessment, integration with other subject areas, resources and the approaches or methodologies I will use.