“Yes. It’s about routine, and knowing what to expect.” Gavin Koehler, the job applicant for a high school math teaching position, had reached his favorite topic and his face was lighting up as he talked about his students and how he keeps them engaged. Chuckles and “ahs” were heard in the room as he used the example of “private reasoning time” – a predictable two-minute period of silence for students to process a new task before discussing it or asking questions.
The job interview being described was a mock interview for a position at the hypothetical “Perfect School”. Mock interview day is an annual tradition in UVEI’s Teacher Internship Program, and this year it took place at a seminar in late March, right as hiring season is gearing up. Gavin, the first “interviewee”, would later reflect that the process was nerve wracking at first but in this simulated setting he felt comfortable being honest when he didn’t know an answer, and gathering feedback and advice from the group at the end. He reflects that “This gave me a toolbelt of how to prepare for interviews. I know what sort of things I want to learn about the school and how to present myself.”
The second mock interviewee, Kathy Campbell, is an applicant for an elementary teaching position. Kathy notes her awareness of The Perfect School’s focus on deeper learning and PBL, and highlights her work in these areas. It’s not just work, as she notes, because our commitment to the success of all students “speaks to her heart”. She vividly depicts diverse needs in the classroom as “like planets… all part of the same system but with different characteristics,” and emphasizes the importance of getting to know the students as individuals in order to meet their needs.
“To see all the aspiring teachers in the room and how focused they were even as spectators speaks volumes about their character and the type of person we want educating our kids!” (Kevin Hicks, Teacher, Principal Candidate, and Volunteer on Mock Interview Committee)
Like Gavin, Kathy later stated that she was extremely nervous during the interview, but the rest of the participants agreed that she kept this well hidden! In response to this experience, Kathy plans to put together short lists of descriptive statements and experiences to highlight, and to develop a plan for sharing additional information/materials with interviewers. She notes “I felt I was thoroughly prepared for the interview, but still found that there were questions I might not have thought of before. I was able to use the advice of both the interviewers and the other students to come up with a more streamlined approach to answering interview questions.”
As in so many UVEI activities, all participants take something away from the experience. For the teacher cohort, whether they were being interviewed or observing and giving feedback, they will be able to apply their learning to their own job interviews. For faculty coaches, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment watching candidates handle a question with joy and conviction, recognizing the incredible growth they’re made since the beginning of the program. For the mock “hiring committee”, myself included, this was an opportunity to see learning in action and to experience gratitude for educators – new teachers, experienced teachers who serve as mentors, and all others in all stages of their careers. I spoke with Kevin Hicks, UVEI Principal Intern and Lead Teacher at Vilas Middle School (NH), who also volunteered to serve on this hiring committee. As Kevin describes, “To see all the aspiring teachers in the room and how focused they were even as spectators speaks volumes about their character and the type of person we want educating our kids!”
On a final note, Kevin shared some advice that he has for new teachers. “Keep finding the new light that keeps the fire burning. Enjoy the ride because it is a great one. At first, literally take it one day at a time. Most importantly, have fun.”
Marie McCormick is the Registrar and Operations Associate at UVEI. She served as a “Parent and Community Member” on the mock interview hiring committee, and is the real life parent of a 4th grader.