Teaching is one of the most under-appreciated jobs around. And yet, we expect the best from our teachers, even while we’re paying them horribly. Still, and despite widespread budget cuts, teachers are a relatively stably employed bunch. Since kindergarten isn’t a national requirement though, kindergarten teacher jobs are sparser in comparison to jobs for teachers of other grades.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that kindergarten and elementary-school teacher jobs will grow 6 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is on-pace for general job growth. But for kindergarten teachers especially, job outlook depends on state and local law. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), only 11 states (and Washington D.C.) require full-day kindergarten while 34 states require half-day programs.
We spoke with an early-childhood educator about kindergarten teacher interview questions and answers you can prep for ahead of the big day.
What is your philosophy of education?
I believe in educating the whole child. It’s incredibly important to acknowledge each student as an individual and to have a full understanding of their strengths and areas requiring improvement. A good educator needs to provide instruction that encourages critical and creative thinking as well as active learning through hands-on play and manipulation of materials.
How would you handle a disruptive child in your classroom?
The first key to handling disruptive children is to take necessary steps to prevent disruptive behavior. These steps include creating an environment in which the children are actively engaged and feel challenged and safe to express frustrations and needs in positive ways.
How would you give parents difficult feedback about their child?
I believe in the “compliment sandwich”: I always start by sharing with the parent a strength or something positive the child accomplished that day. From there I’d move on to the area of concern before returning to another positive anecdote about their child’s behavior and performance.
Discuss your classroom management techniques and beliefs.
In my classroom the student and teachers are partners in creating a safe and happy environment. At the beginning of the year the students and I work together to discuss classroom policies and procedures that are necessary for all students to feel happy and become high achievers.
How do you differentiate instruction for children with special needs?
I believe that all children deserve a teacher who knows them as unique individuals and is able to individualize instruction for everybody in the classroom, including children with special needs. I make sure to incorporate students’ home lives and personal interests in classroom activities and instruction in order to encourage each child to become invested in the material we are learning.
Who is your favorite children’s book author and how would you use their body of work for instruction?
I love Eric Carl. His work is rhythmic and repetitive which provides early and emergent readers with the necessary support to feel successful in independent reading. In addition to literary devices, Carl’s work incorporates many mathematical and scientific topics which allows for a great jumping-off point for multidisciplinary units and activities.
How do you feel about the importance of play in early childhood instruction?
Play is of the utmost important in early childhood instruction. Play is the way that children learn about the world around them, learn the social and emotional skills of working with others, and learn problem-solving skills. Through play and active manipulation of the materials around them, children learn the fundamental interpersonal, mathematics, scientific, and inquiry-based skills that lead to a life-long passion for knowledge.
How would you respond to a colleague who disagrees with your discipline strategies?
I would explain my reasoning and beliefs driving my discipline strategies and, if necessary, provide academic articles that support my understanding.
What are your plans for your own professional development?
I am planning on pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I hope to have earned my Master’s in School Leadership and plan on becoming an administrator within the field of education.