Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Our mock interview assignment allowed me to do extensive self evaluation as well as the opportunity to compare and contrast between myself and what most likely would be competitors for a teaching job. This assignment simulated the high stakes interview routine that is customary to the hiring process of most professional jobs. The setup for our assignment placed me not only in the candidate seat where I practiced interviewing for a job but also in the evaluator seat of the interview process by having the students participate in committees of about 4 to 5 evaluators. This dual role helped assure that we could also draw conclusions based on the perspective of an employer on top of what we learned from the candidate side of the hiring process. From this experience I have come to understand that the bar is set higher than I anticipated in the job market of education and as a result I have raised new personal expectations and goals in order to keep myself competitive for when I am entering this job market.
There are several reasons why I feel as if I have a lot of room for improvement in building my teaching resume. First of all, when I participated in the first committee I realized from two of the interviews I helped to conduct that there are several candidates from my own class that are on a completely higher level than myself. I was able to distinctly classify most people who interviewed anywhere on three different levels. The lowest tier that I categorized candidates at was those I considered either not ready to teach, needs improvement, or missing certain key traits that employers look for in a teacher. The second tier I categorized candidates in was those who I considered somewhat ready to teach, could improve in a couple areas, and had some teacher characteristics in them already. From my self evaluation I would place myself in the second tier or arguably in the lowest tier at worst. The highest tier was the candidates who seemed ready to teach, had few notable areas for improvement, and possessed many teacher characteristics that made them look like naturals for the position. This last tier I know that I am capable of being a part of with some refinement in my interview skills and by adding to my teacher credential capital.
What I refer to when I say, teacher credential capital, it is the overall set of skills, attributes, and qualifications that a person needs in order to be an effective teacher. Some of these things can be as simple as having a good knowledge base on the subject that you are teaching, skills that help you succeed in a teaching environment such as communication skills, and lastly an example of an attribute that would make me a more competent instructor could be things such as being responsible or patient. From comparing myself to my peers, I can note that I am strong in the areas of job experience, I have a couple string skills such as my communication skills that include my bilingual abilities, and I have some attributes like my social skills that would make it easy for me to transition into this work field. I do however lack an exceptional knowledge base, a variety of teaching specific skills such as creating detailed and innovative lesson plans, and defining abilities that would convince employers that I am a natural teacher.
Recognizing my strengths and weaknesses is essential to building upon this assignment and understanding what it is that I have to work on to mold myself into the perfect candidate. The bright side I can take from my weaknesses is that I know for one that being the most knowledgeable doesn’t necessarily translate into being the most effective teacher. Some teacher’s biggest strength comes from having the ability to get knowledge or ideas across effectively. This can be the result of relating well to students and understanding how to phrase ideas into ways that a group of students will be able to interpret. So I know that this is not an issue that I have to be worried about too much because as long as I continue my studies I will be able to extend my knowledge base of history. By playing to my strengths as well I know I can become an effective teacher by finding creative ways to get the main points across to students even with an average knowledge base. The other main area of improvement for myself comes from an observation that the instructor noticed in one of the interviews I was part of the committee. The teacher noted that even in the few minutes that the candidate had in the interview, he was teaching us something we did not know, and by doing so he showed that he possessed the skills necessary to be a teacher. I now tell myself that when I actually interview for a teaching job I will make it a point to try to make it a habit to teach something or spread knowledge in some way during that interview.
There was a question that I wish I could go back and answer differently from my interview and that is the second one I was asked, which was to list two of my weaknesses as a teacher. I replied at the interview that I struggle in placing too much detail to some tasks and that it can lead to me having poor time management. I feel that it was a good response in the way that the two points I hit related to each other so the answer flowed out smoothly. Yet, I cannot help but feel as if that could make me look somewhat irresponsible and that is a red flag in the eyes of some employers. What I would have answered now that I have had the time to reanalyze the interview is that my two areas of weakness would be teaching experience and over analyzing certain situations. The first part of the answer could look bad on me however it would come out either way once they have reviewed my resume and experience. So rather than simple have that count against me, I would at the very least have the chance to address their concerns about that issue and I could explain to the employer what about me supersedes that problem. The second part of that answer would also eliminate my self critique about poor time management, which would keep me away from showing any red flags.
There are many things I can conclude from this activity but overall I understand most what the competition for a teaching job would really look like. That itself is a valuable insight to have so that I have the chance to make the adjustments necessary in time for my real life interview for a teaching job. Until then however I will continue to reflect on this experience and build myself into a more ideal teacher.