Categories: First Year Teacher

Top 10 Teacher Interview Questions and Sample Answers

I once had to answer 30 teacher interview questions in 20 minutes. 

I was so nervous because in the front office they gave me a piece of paper with 30 interview questions to practice before my interview. 

“Great” I thought, “this district understands how nerve wracking interviews can be and decided to give me the questions ahead of time.”

But boy was I wrong! Come to find out one of the reasons they gave me the questions ahead of time was because I had to answer 30 interview questions in 20 minutes or less. 

So I sat there in that room for 20 minutes practicing these questions, and I was so nervous that I had to be careful how hard I held the paper with the questions so that the sweat from my hands wouldn’t get on the paper. 

True story! But the good news is (spoiler alert) that interview went SO WELL that I got the job! In fact, I am currently teaching in that same district.

P.S. Before you get lost in this post, I wanted to let you know that this is Part 4 of a 4 Part Interview Series. Here are the links to Parts 1-3.

Also don’t forget to download the Ultimate Teacher Interview Guide that goes with the series!

The Secret

Now whether you have to answer 30 interview questions in 20 minutes or not, answering teacher interview questions can be very intimidating. 

In fact you might be feeling like:

  • You want to make a good impression and stand out from the other candidates but you secretly hate talking about yourself.
  • You are absolutely terrified you are going to say something wrong OR WORSE freeze up completely. 
  • You are struggling to find the time to prepare for your interview.

If you can relate to any of these first off, don’t worry, I felt the exact same way when I last interviewed. But also there’s a secret method I use to answer interview questions that make me feel confident and I want to share that with you.

And that is the following steps:

  1. Restate (Restate the question to give you some think time)
  2. Experience (Relate the question to an experience you had to build credibility)
  3. Mission and values (Relate your answer to the mission and values of the schools)
  4. It Factor (Answer the question using your “it Factor or what makes you stand out)

To demonstrate how to answer teacher interview questions using this method I compiled a list of the top 10 teacher interview questions and how to answer them to help you feel confident and prepared.

So grab that cup of coffee (chai for me please!) and let’s get started!

Listen to the Podcast:

What inspired you to become a teacher?

This is a common question in teacher interviews and it’s important to have a thoughtful and genuine answer prepared. You might talk about a teacher who inspired you when you were younger, a personal experience that sparked your interest in education, or a desire to make a positive impact on young people’s lives. Whatever your answer, be sure to convey WHY your passionate about teaching and your commitment to helping students succeed.

My example would be something like:

“One of the reasons I am excited to be a teacher relates a lot to this story of when my brother was 5 years old. He had just entered kindergarten and was learning to tie his shoes. Well being the big sister I am, I sat there and helped him learn to tie his shoes. It was in that moment that my little brother tied his shoe for the first time and I saw that “light” in his eyes. That moment of pride is what I fell in love with. I am dedicated to making sure all students (myself included) become passionate about learning and being life-long learners. I love showing students the love of learning.”

Confidently prepare for your next interview in a single weekend with the Teacher Interview Workshop.

How do you differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students?

Another common teacher interview question I have seen a lot. Differentiating instruction is a crucial aspect of being an effective teacher. In order to meet the needs of all students, it’s important to understand their individual strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. 

One way to differentiate instruction is to use a variety of teaching strategies and materials, such as visual aids, hands-on activities, and technology. It’s also important to provide opportunities for students to work in small groups or one-on-one with the teacher. By tailoring instruction to meet the needs of each student, you can help them reach their full potential and achieve academic success.

My example would include a story about how my brother and I had different learning styles and that growing up I learned the importance of incorporating that in everything you do. There for I have a particular passion for incorporating different learning styles and student choice during lessons. 

How do you handle classroom management and discipline?

Another common teacher interview question you might get is something around classroom  management. Classroom management and discipline are important aspects of being a teacher. It’s important to have a clear set of rules and expectations for behavior in the classroom, and to consistently enforce those rules.

As an example, when a student misbehaves, it’s important to address the behavior calmly and respectfully, and to work with the student to find a solution. It’s also important to communicate with parents and other teachers to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to classroom management and discipline. Use this question to highlight your classroom management plan. 

For instance, I would talk about how my first year of teaching I learned that consistency in a classroom management is key. Therefore here are the different stages of my plan (Insert plan here). 

Having your classroom management plan thought out ahead of time will help you be consistent if they decide to give you another question about it. 

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    How do you incorporate technology into your lessons?

    To be honest, this has become a more popular teacher interview question as of late. Incorporating technology into lessons is becoming increasingly important in today’s classrooms. As a teacher, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and find ways to integrate it into your lessons. 

    For instance, this could include using educational apps, online resources, or interactive whiteboards. It’s also important to ensure that all students have access to the technology and that it’s being used in a way that enhances their learning experience. 

    For instance, I would talk about a certain class I took in college where I learned some of my favorite resources for technology and have incorporated them since. I might even emphasize some of the success my students have had with these resources.

    How do you assess student learning and adjust instruction accordingly?

    Utilizing assessments to drive instruction is another common teacher interview question you might get. As a teacher, it’s important to regularly assess student learning to ensure that they are understanding the material and making progress. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as quizzes, tests, projects, and class discussions. 

    Once you have assessed student learning, it’s important to adjust your instruction accordingly. This could mean re-teaching certain concepts, providing additional resources or support, or modifying your teaching approach to better meet the needs of your students. 

    In response to this question, I would speak about a specific lesson where I used a pre assessment, 3 formative assessments, and a summative or formal assessment at the end to drive instruction. I would then expand on how I refer back to those assessments to gauge if I need to adjust or reteach a part of my lesson before moving on. 

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    Are you a new or student teacher looking to land your next teaching position?

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      Can you tell us about your teaching experience?

      This is a common question in teacher interviews, and it’s important to be prepared with a clear and concise answer. Start by highlighting your relevant teaching experience, including the grade levels and subjects you have taught. 

      Also, be sure to mention any special certifications or training you have received, as well as any notable achievements or successes in your teaching career. Emphasize your passion for teaching and your commitment to helping students succeed.

      Similarly to my answer to the first question, I would talk about a story of when my students thrived and then what grade levels I have taught and how I have been consistently passionate about instilling lifelong learners for future generations. 

      How do you effectively communicate with families?

      One of this administration really wants to see is your ability to work as a team with your families. That’s why how you effectively communicate with families is another common teacher interview question. 

      As you answer this question, talk about instances where you have worked alongside families. Also don’t forget to reiterate why you are passionate about working with families in the academic setting.

      One way to answer this would be to restate the question, and then I would talk about how I started communicating with my families on ClassDojo during the pandemic. I would expand on how I was passionate that all my students and FAMILIES felt seen, heard, understood, valued and supported no matter what was going on. 

      Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

      This question is often asked in teacher interviews to gauge a candidate’s long-term goals and aspirations. As a teacher, it’s important to have a clear vision for your professional development and growth. 

      For instance, you might discuss your desire to take on leadership roles within the school or district, pursue advanced degrees or certifications, or explore new teaching methods and technologies. It’s also important to emphasize your commitment to ongoing learning and improvement, and your dedication to supporting student success in the years to come.

      When I got asked this question, I personally wanted to convey my dedication to the District and spoke of finding a District that I felt aligned with so that I would be proud to have my future children attend the district. This is a great way to emphasize your commitment to a district you align with and that you are serious in finding that alignment. 

      If you have a student who is not following directions in class, what do you do?

      This teacher interview question is designed to assess your classroom management skills and your ability to handle difficult situations with students. Your answer should demonstrate your understanding of the importance of clear expectations and consistent consequences, as well as your ability to communicate effectively with students and their families. 

      Much like the previous classroom management question, you might discuss strategies such as positive reinforcement, redirection, and individualized behavior plans, as well as the importance of building positive relationships with all students in your classroom. It’s also important to emphasize your commitment to creating a safe and supportive learning environment for all students.

      In this particular case I would walk them through my classroom management plan and even speak of a scenario where I had experienced this with a student and how I solved it. Always lean into the questions you already answered for support. 

      Can you give an example of a successful lesson you’ve taught?

      This teacher interview question is designed to assess your teaching skills and your ability to plan and deliver effective lessons. Your answer should demonstrate your understanding of the importance of clear learning objectives, engaging instructional strategies, and effective assessment practices. 

      For example, you might discuss a lesson that you designed and implemented, highlighting the specific learning objectives, instructional strategies, and assessment methods that you used. It’s also important to emphasize the positive outcomes of the lesson, such as increased student engagement, improved student understanding, or higher student achievement.

      In this scenario I would refer back to a lesson plan I brought and expand how the experience was for myself and my students. I would highlight how I utilized assessments to drive instruction and differentiation to ensure mastery of the skill.

      To Wrap it All Up

      Overall there are several ways you can answer teacher interview questions but I personally recommend answering with the following:

      • Restate
      • Experience/Story
      • Mission and values
      • It Factor

      And if you want more help preparing for your next interview, checkout the Teacher Interview Workshop!

      Inside this workshop you’ll walk away with:

      •  The confidence to stand out from other candidates with your “it factor”
      •  All of your Interview Assets set up and ready to go
      •  Systems in place to flawlessly execute your interview like a pro
      •  Leverage your takeaways to perfect your interview process

      PLUS it’s $10 off through email and Podcast only! So make sure to grab your spot now so you can confidently prepare for your upcoming interview with everything set up and ready to go! 

      Can’t wait to see you inside!

      Categories: Classroom Management, First Year Teacher, New Teachers

      How to Build a Positive Classroom Community as a First Year Teacher

      I know that trying to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher can be tough. You’re doing everything the experts say, but your students are still arguing with each other and not getting along for other teachers.

      If this is you, you’re not alone. Building a positive classroom community as a first year teacher can feel overwhelming when you pair it with the other million tasks teachers are required to do. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be! What if building a positive classroom community was so simple that it was built into your day on autopilot without you having to think about it?

      Too good to be true? Well not with these 5 strategies. Today I am going to show you 5 steps you need to take today in order to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. So grab that coffee and let’s start building the strongest community in the school!

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        How to Build a Positive Classroom Community as a First Year Teacher
        Helena (00:00): Does it feel like your students are always fighting and they aren’t behaving for other teachers? No matter what you do, they always need you to help solve a problem. What if I told you that your students are always helping each other and taking each other, taking care of each other, and your classroom was just the most positive classroom in the school? But Helena, how do I get there? Is that class a thing? Is that a real thing? Yes, it is. I’m here to show you how. So stick around because I’m going to talk about how you can achieve just that. Hey, teacher bestie. My name’s Helena and I’m the creator, the Present Teacher podcast. I’m a first year teacher coach, and in this podcast you are gonna learn everything from simple actual classroom management, social emotional learning, and teacher wellness strategies. You know that impact you wanna make in the classroom. We’re gonna make it happen here. (00:56) Step number one, establish rules and boundaries early on. Now, without going too deep into this, because I did in a previous episode, but when you do this at the beginning of the year or now, you are going to want to have your students create rules with you. Help them buy in by having them sign or come up with the rules. And this will help create ownership of their learning and help them stay accountable and remind them, Hey, remember we all agree that this would be rule number three, and the expectation is blank. So that is step number one. Step number two, foster those positive relationships. Have you ever walked into a place and you can just tell that the moon and the vibe is just happy and calm? Well, the same goes for your classroom. You can tell the mood in your classroom just based on how you interact with your students. (01:51) So let’s make sure it’s a good vibe. You might be wondering, how do I do that? Well, here’s a couple ways to achieve that. The first one being get to know your students one-on-one, ask or compliment them in the morning. I love to greet my kids at the door because it gives me that visual cue that I can see. Are they having a a good day? Is their morning okay? Are they having a hard morning? Are they going to need some extra love? The second thing is have a meal with them. I love my quiet time as an introverted teacher. However, on Fridays I love to pick four or five depending, you know, the size of your class. But I like to pick a few students and have a meal with them and ask them about their family. Ask them about their dog, learn about their interests. (02:38) Because what happens is, is when you take time to learn about your kids and you remember those things and you bring it up later, they just, oh my gosh, they just explode that you care enough about ’em to know the little things. So trust me and that, and it’ll make you fall in love with them even more. But take some time to have a meal with them and ask those questions, show that you care and take interest in their personal life. This year I really made an attempt to go to the baseball games, to go to the soccer games, to go to the ballet because it’s important for my kids to know that I have their back and I’m there for them. So this is a great way to foster those positive relationships. And I’ve said this before, a student won’t learn from a teacher they don’t like. (03:31) And I’m not saying you’re going to be able to reach every kid and not every kid’s gonna like you, and that’s okay, but your kids are gonna learn to love you if you tell them more about you. I know that’s not what you probably thought I was going to say, but talk about your own interests. I don’t know why, but my first year, I think there was like a veteran told me that, you know, you shouldn’t say anything about your life to your kids. Now, I’m not saying tell ’em about all your problems and everything personal, but I like to share about my doc’s, Kohan Kenai from Brother Bear. My kids love that they love asking me and they call, call them my my sons like, share about your personal life because kids will remember you and learn to like you if you have something in common. (04:20) The same goes for this podcast. If I never told you anything personal about myself or anything of my like or interests, you wouldn’t be listening to me because we would have nothing in common. So there’s that. Step number three, practice active listening. So you’re gonna wanna mono what this looks like and sh show what it looks like and sounds like. And the biggest thing that I have made myself do is to preach what I say and do the same. So I talk about active listening as a respecting another person and showing that you are hearing them and listening to the words they have to say and you are holding space for them and you are actively presently in the moment listening to them. So we talk about what body languages looks like, what our minds doing, what our voices are doing. Um, you can do a visual poster, but this is something I cover at the very beginning of class. (05:21) If you haven’t done this yet, that’s okay, we can practice now, but we come up with a saying like, track the speaker still hands listening, ears, voices off sitting, still do your best caring heart. Obviously I have that memorized, but we go over it almost every single time at carpet time. And then I point out kids that are actively listening. And then I model by doing it when my kids are talking to me now with my kids, because you know I love them. They come up to me and they have something really exciting to say, but I have an adult slash teacher thing to do and I can’t give them my my full attention. I will tell them so and so, I would love to listen to you right now, however I need to finish this task, then I would love to actively listen to you. (06:07) And they, they’ve learned to wait. And then after I’m done, I turn my body, I practice what I preach, I turn my body, I cross my hands and I show them that I’m listening. And your kids will respect you for doing that. It’s that mutual respect. And again, I like to point out other students who are practicing actively listening to their friends when the rest of us need a couple reminders. So if you have a moment where your kids are really chatty at the carpet, I might say, oh, I love how so-and-so is actively listening by sitting crisscross applesauce. I love how so-and-so is actively listening by tracking the speaker still hands, going through the whole poster activity you did earlier and having it up somewhere helps but model what you preach and point out people who are doing a great job. And if you’re using the super improver wall like I am, then this is a great time for a sticker. (07:01) But beside the point, so practice active listening. Step number four, create a safe space for sharing and expressing emotions. I don’t want students, and I’m pretty sure you’re the same way, because we’re, we think a lot alike, but I don’t want students to feel like there are any silly questions. All thoughts, opinions and emotions are valid. And I may not agree with you, but I do respect you enough to listen, hold space and validate. So model what that looks like. How can I express this? You can talk about what does that look like, sound like when you’re list sharing and expressing your emotions. How can I express that I’m mad instead of throwing something across the floor, I can take a calming breath and say, I’m mad right now. How can I listen to others to make them feel validated? Kids wanna help each other, but sometimes they just don’t know how. (08:02) And you have to model that. What does that look like and sound like You can do this during circle time, morning meeting, afternoon meeting. You can talk about a friend who’s upset and what do I do as good friend to show that I see them, I hear them and I wanna validate their feelings. You could, you know, go through the thank you because the last thing I would want you to do is, I’m sorry you’re feeling that way. What can I do to make it better? All those are super important. Your kids wanna help, they wanna thrive, they wanna grow. Modeling that for each other is huge. Step number five, collaborate and teamwork. So I have a fun story about this. So during the first week of school, I noticed that these kids in particular had a hard time with collaborating and teamwork. So what I did is we played the cup game. (09:00) So the cup game isn’t the cup song from my childhood. I got magic from the long way around. I know I’ll let her sing it, but I love that song. Anyways, it’s not that one, it’s cup stacking. So I separated my class two teams and I had them sit, you know, in their groups. And when I said go, they had to stack the highest tower of cups on top of each other. What would happen was whenever my kids accidentally knocked over the Tower of Cups, they would start yelling at each other and getting angry and not regulating their emotions. What would happen was because they were being not the nicest friend to each other, the cops would keep falling down. So after we went through this exercise, once I, you know, there were some tears, it was a little frustrating, but I had everyone sit down and calm down and I just had my kids let my kids talk. (09:57) What did you notice about the cup game? What did you notice about your teammates? How did they make you feel? What did you like? What did you didn’t like? What did you notice about the cups whenever your teammates were doing that and light bulbs, absolute light bulbs, they were like, you know what, I’ll never forget one of my little boys. He’s like, I dropped the tower, or the tower fell because so-and-so was yelling at me and didn’t make me feel good. So I accidentally bumped the other cups and we talked about how we expanded on how how we treat each other is how our cups are and our cups represent our emotions and how our teammates are are working together. When we work well as a team, our shower is super high. We’re steady as a team, we’re praising each other, we’re supporting each other and it’s tall. (10:47) But when we are tearing each other down and getting mad and frustrated and taking it on each other, the cups fall. And this was huge, huge. And so we did it a second time. We talked about strategy and what they could do next time and what they wanted to do better. And so we did it a second time and those towers were so much taller and it was so much more positive in the class. So now I love to go back every once in a while and remind them of the cup game. And we play the cup game whenever we kind of forget what good teamwork and collaboration means because otherwise our cups are falling. So my point is, it’s important to model what good teamwork looks like. What does it sound like? Um, how can we be good supportive team member so our cups are tall and high and not falling? (11:41) How can we make sure that our team is the best cup stacker in the class? Thank you so much for listening. I hope you found this helpful and I’m so excited to hear about you implementing the strategies you learned from this week’s episode. Remember, I am always here from you for you cheering you on. I am your biggest fan. I would love if you could tag me and show me that you are listening to this podcast by taking a screenshot and either sending it to me or adding it to your stories and tagging me at the present teacher on Instagram. I love seeing all the amazing educators around the world listening in. Remember that we are stronger together. Take care, teacher bestie. Until next week, love Helen. (12:28) Thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode. I hope that you were able to take away some value that will help you thrive inside and outta the classroom. It would mean the world to me. If you could take five seconds right now and leave a review on this podcast, and if you found this podcast especially helpful, make sure to take a screenshot of this episode right now and tag me on your social school. Let me know you’re listening. As always, remember that we are stronger together with all the love in the world. Helena aka, the present teacher. See you next time. Teacher bestie.

        Establish Rules and Boundaries Early On

        The first step you need to take to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to establish your rules and boundaries early on. As I talked about in a previous episode, in order for students to excel they need to know what’s expected of them. 

        Establishing rules and boundaries from the start is key for setting expectations of behavior. Make sure your rules are clear, concise and easy to follow. Involve your students in the process of creating these rules – they will be more engaged, motivated and responsible if they have a say. You should also explain the consequences for breaking rules so that your students know what will happen if they do not comply with them.

        Some ways to implement this is to have your students create the rules with you, vote on them, and have them sign the rules. This will allow buy in and will allow your students to feel seen and heard. Overall this is a very important step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. 

        Relevant Links:

        Foster Positive Relationships With Your Students

        The second step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to foster a positive relationship with your students. As I mentioned in this episode of the Present Teacher Podcast, students won’t learn from a teacher they don’t like.

        The same goes for building a positive classroom community, it’s hard to have a positive classroom community when the students don’t get along with the teacher. Getting to know your students beyond the curriculum can help you create a nurturing classroom community. Spend one-on-one time with each student to learn about their interests, goals and home life. 

        When you show your students that you care for their physical, mental and emotional well-being through positive reinforcement they will learn to love not only you but the classroom community as well.

        One way to achieve this is do check-ins, leave positive notes, send positive notes home, and compliment your students. Showing that you are available and receptive to talking positively strengthens trust between yourself and your students. Which makes this step essential if you want to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. 

        Show Respect by Practicing Active Listening Skills

        The third step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to practice active listening. Now let’s be honest, active listening is a skill that is not only difficult for students to master, but for students as well. That’s why it’s so important to practice what you preach and model active listening when your students are talking to you.

        Whenever you engage with your students it is important to practice your active listening skills. Whether in small group or one-on-one settings, always keep eye contact and be attentive to details and student emotions. Ask open-ended questions and let the student talk without interruption; frequently check for understanding and restate information shared by the student to confirm understanding. Your recognition of their perspectives will help them feel heard, seen, respected and valued.

        You can also have your class practice active listening and redirect them when they are not. Make sure to model what this looks like and sounds like. You can even pause instruction when someone is talking over a friends and say:

        “I’m so sorry to interrupt you (insert name), but I see two students who are not practicing actively listening. Let’s wait until they show us that they are ready to actively listen.”

        This is a great skill for not only adults but students as well and it’s a great next step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. 

        Hey New Teachers!

        Make this your best year yet with the Ultimate First Year Teacher Checklist!

        Download the guide that walks you through everything you get done this year a success. (Oh and it’s completely free!)

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          Create a Safe Haven for Sharing and Expressing Feelings

          The fourth step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to create a safe space to share feelings and expressing them. Students will not help build a positive classroom environment if they feel like their feelings will not be validated. That’s why it’s so important to make sure all feelings and thoughts are validated in the classroom.

          Allowing students to share and express their feelings in a safe and respectful environment is essential for creating a positive classroom community. As teachers, it’s our job to create an atmosphere that is open and welcoming to all types of perspectives. However, it’s also important to establish ground rules and expectations with your students that emphasize respect at all times, so they feel comfortable speaking openly without feeling judged. 

          It’s important to encourage them to be flexible, creative, tolerant and compassionate with one another. One way to achieve this is to do a bucket filler lesson where you talk about bucket filling and bucket dipping. We also talk about inside versus outside voices and what to say to comfort a friend. If you want more support in teaching these kinds of lessons check out these resources. 

          All in all, creating a safe space for students to feel seen, heard and validated is essential if you want to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. 

          Create Opportunities for Collaboration and Teamwork

          The final step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to create opportunities to collaborate and teamwork. When you allow students to collaborate you are allowing them to learn important interpersonal skills as well as the ability to talk more in a structured way. So if you have a chatty class you definitely want to be doing this!

          Creating opportunities for students to collaborate and work together is a great way to foster a positive classroom community. Through team-based activities, students will learn how to better communicate and rely on one another, while also getting the chance to get to know each other in an educational setting.

          You can assign tasks and projects that require students to work with others or divide the class into smaller groups and have them come up with creative solutions to different problems. Another great way is to have students “teach” each other important points as you teach. This will encourage responsibility, critical thinking, and problem solving skills all while building relationships between your students. And what better way to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher.

          Make this your best year yet with the Ultimate First Year Teacher Checklist!


          In summary, in order to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher you need the following steps:

          • Establish Rules and Boundaries Early On
          • Foster Positive Relationships With Your Students
          • Show Respect by Practicing Active Listening Skills
          • Create a Safe Haven for Sharing and Expressing Feelings
          • And Finally to Create Opportunities for Collaboration and Teamwork

          All of these are a great way to build a classroom community so that you and your students will enjoy coming to school and have a community so strong it will feel like a family.

          Which strategy are you going to incorporate to build a positive classroom community? I would love to hear your thoughts!