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How To Answer These General Interview Questions

Being asked why you wanted to become a teacher is incredibly common, and there
really is no right or wrong answer. You should be honest with your response and be
prepared to elaborate if the hiring manager asks you to. Your answer may include
wanting to make a difference in the life of children, or you may have had a family
member with special needs who inspired you to get into this line of work. Specifics are
good, so prepare your story before going into the interview.

An interviewer will also want to know how you plan on measuring students’ progress to
make sure your students are learning the material. The school may have its own system
by which to measure progress, and you can feel free to mention that in your response.
However, you may have your own way of checking in with students, and you should
definitely elaborate on your own style. You can even give a story at a past job where
you assessed progress effectively.

As a special needs educator, you will be expected to deal with classroom disruptions in
a manner different from other classrooms. Harsh disciplinary actions are generally not
conducive to the overall well-being of the child. You want to show that you know how to
handle disruptive students in a manner that is constructive to that individual student’s
learning as well as the well-being of the entire class.

Your duty as a special needs teacher is to ensure that every student in your class gets a
proper education so that everyone can lead productive lives. This involves maintaining
calm in the classroom so that no one is distracted and everyone is learning the material
being presented. You need to show the hiring manager that you are capable of
establishing order within the classroom, and you are able to give every student an equal
opportunity to learn.

Tips for the Interview

Although the focus of your interview should be on your successes, it can be equally
beneficial to talk about difficulties you have had in the field as long as you are able to
talk about how you were able to overcome those hardships. Experiencing difficulties is
to be expected in any line of work. You just need to be brief with how your challenges
set you back and keep the focus on what you learned through the experience.

Teamwork is particularly advantageous in this field, so you should also talk about how
you have worked with other educators to develop plans that benefitted your past
students. Make sure to mention any past collaborations and what ultimately resulted
from it. Special education teachers are expected to have slightly different skillsets from
other teachers, and you need to display your ability to handle the job in the interview.
With the proper amount of preparation beforehand, you will be ready to handle the
interview, no matter what specific questions are asked.

Why did you choose a career in special education? Why do you want to work with
children with special needs?
Be honest. What indeed did motivate you? Perhaps it was a need to work with those
that have the biggest need. Maybe the impact you could have, watching transformations
of personality and ability. Or was there someone in your life who benefitted from a S.E.
teacher, which inspired you? Express yourself enthusiastically.
► Challenges
You will be asked about the variety of challenges in your experience. Specify the
disabilities and disorders that you’ve been working with, such as: physical handicaps,
speech disorders, language and processing difficulties, autism and Aspergers spectrum,
ADD and ADHD, behavioral disorders and others.
Special Qualities
What particular skills and qualities can you bring for us? What are your strengths? How
would you contribute to our workforce and to the teachers’ teamwork and our team
effort? Use professional words, and include whatever applies to you: dedication,
perseverance, creativity, enthusiasm, diligence, firmness, determination, passion, zeal,
Six Tips to answer the above questions

 Talk about the factors and values that are most important for you working in special
 Review related material in this field. Prepare special stories related to particular children
and the way you enhanced their capabilities.
 Express your desire to work with kids with special needs and the reason for that –
helping others, pleasure in reaching goals and the emotional thrill in seeing the progress
of the kids.
 No work is flawless, especially in this field. You can talk about past difficulties and how
you handled these difficulties.
 You can also relate a failure and your lesson learned; be brief with this, and sandwich it
b between success stories. You may want to review your choice with an experienced
 Special education teachers are team players and therefore require collaboration with
professional staff. Demonstrate your teamwork skills by narrating your past successful
interactions with colleges and how you’ve managed with the team work to benefit your
 Tell us about yourself/ What can you tell us about your background that will bring your
resume to life?
 Well, I've wanted to be a teacher since I was five. I can still remember playing
games with my sisters when I was younger and always wanting to play teacher.
My decision to be a teacher started in high school when I began exploring
more job opportunities working with children. I did a lot of babysitting and
tutoring, and it was then that I decided I wanted my career to be working with
children. I developed a love for special education when I was junior in college
during student observations and student teaching experiences where I
found myself being drawn to students that required more support. "here is truly
nothing more rewarding than watching a struggling learner finally grasp a
concept that had been difficult. I love being able to do that every single day.
 Why is collaboration important?
 I think collaboration benefits the! quality of instruction and supports for students
with disabilities. resources are combined to strengthen teaching and learning
opportunities, methods, and effectiveness. %each member of the team brings
their individual skill set, training, and unique perspective to ensure that the
individualized needs of each student are met
 If I walked into your classroom right now what would I see?
 If you walked into my classroom you would see a colorful classroom, that creates
a warm positive and stimulating environment for students to work in. students
will feel safe and comfortable. you would see rules(expectations clearly laid
out and visible for students and teacher to reference when necessary. since a
majority of my teaching is done using flexible grouping you will see some
students working directly with a teacher, other students working independently on
a center activity and others engaged in an activity working with an assistant(") *if
one is available to me+. you will also see some sort of technology
component being integrated into lessons. you will see students engaged,
answering !questions, collaborating and sharing information with each other,
and participating in classroom discussions. you would see students enjoying
What is your classroom management style?
I clearly lay out the rules and expectations from day one so that my students know
exactly what is expected of them. "he classroom expectations are made visible to the
students and teacher to reference at all times. In terms of reinforcement, my classroom
style is built upon the foundations of applied behavioral analysis and positive
reinforcement techniques. I use classroom wide reinforcement techniques for students
modeling good behavior. or example, in my current classroom we use a sticker system
where students modeling good behavior *ex- waiting! quietly during transitions+
receives a sticker. When students fill up their sticker boards they gain access to a
potent reward. for some students, this system is enough, but others that demonstrate
some more challenging behaviors require more intensive interventions. or those
particular students create a supplemental reinforcement system that best suits their
needs. for example, one student gains access to videos on YouTube *a very potent
reward+ for working responsibly *the
absence of challenging behaviors+ for / minutes. )nother student has a token board
thatis used to motivate her to remain on task and engaged.
What would you do if a student is being noncompliant/disruptive
If this behavior was not a fre!uent or recurring behavior, I would shape the student
backon task using positive reinforcement techni!ues. or example, remind students
what theyare working for, give them short, clear directions to follow and use some sort
ofmotivational(reward system until they demonstrate that they are following directions
and back on task. It is important to remain calm and be non0reactive during these
challengingmoments. If this is a behavior that occurs fre!uently, baseline data should be
taken toidentify the function of the behavior and then a behavior implementation plan
should be put in place.
What would a traditional lesson plan look like in your classroom?
) traditional lesson plan in my classroom would start with a pre0assessment.
"he preassessment helps me identify where the students are at in terms of content and
preparethe objectives for the lesson. 1nce I have analy&ed the preassessment and I
havedeveloped my objective*s+ using the 23 common core standards I then plan the
lesson.Inmy lessons I begin with whole class instruction. I incorporate visual auditory
andkinesthetic components into the lesson to appeal to the different learning styles in
myclassroom. I model the components then continue on to guided practice. If I have
anassistant, I will usually take the time to separate students into groups during
guided practice. If I dont, then I will conduct a whole group guided practice. "hen I move
on toindependent practice. I differentiate instruction by leveling assignments that meet
thestudents &one of proximal development. 4uring independent practice, I walk around
theroom to see what students seem to grasp an understanding of the material,
and whatstudents still re!uire more instruction. )t this time I may pull a small group in the
back to provide more direct(individuali&ed instruction. "he lesson will be brought back to
awhole class for a discussion(review. "he students will then be presented with
anassessment to identify whether or not they comprehend the material. uture lesson
planswill be determined based on the results of the assessment.
Tell !s "bout the #ommon #ore/$ow do you teach to the #ommon #ore StateStandards?
"he #ommon #ore tate tandards establish clear, consistent guidelines
highlightingwhat every student should know and be able to know(do at his or her grade
level. "heyshould be the principle(foundation for all lesson plans. * how greater than(
less thanlesson plan from portfolio+ as you can see from my lesson plans, I incorporate
thecommon core standards into every lesson plan. "he
activities(assignments(andassessments may need to be modified depending on the
particular needs of that student, but they will be taught based on the principles of the
common core standards.
%escribe the &ain 'oints of the IE'
5+ 6resent levels of students academic performance. 7+ )nnual goals and
objectives thatdescribe what the student will learn in the upcoming year. 8+ 6rogress
measurement 9 an
explanation of how progress toward goals and objectives will be measured.
:+4escription of special education services that documents the specifically
designedinstruction, instructional accommodations, and related services the child will
receive. +"esting accommodations and modifications ;+ <east restrictive environment-
the I%6team must consider if and how the child will participate in the general education
programwith non0disabled children. =+ <ength of services 0 "he I%6 must include a
projected beginning and ending date of services, the fre!uency of the services, where
they will bedelivered, and how long they will be provided. >+ If applicable 9 a transition
$ow do you teach reading/writing?
I teach literacy using a balanced literacy approach, meaning I incorporate all the
differentcomponents of literacy including word study, whole group shared reading, read
alouds,small guided reading groups, and independent reading. I teach using strategies
that appealto multiple learning styles, and I differentiate instruction based on the
needs of eachstudent. )ssessments should be given regularly and adjustments should
be made based onstudents current levels of academic performance.
$ow do you teach math?
I teach math in a similar way to teaching literacy in the sense that I use a
balancedapproach. I incorporate enactive, iconic, and symbolic components into each
lessons. Ihave students explore the math concept using hands on manipulatives. "he
students thencreate a visual of the concept using a visual or iconic component.
What language arts programs are you familiar with/have e(perience with?
I am familiar with !uite a few language arts programs. I have experience
withreaders(writers workshop, houghton mifflin *journeys+, mcgraw hill *treasures+,
6#Ireading program *non0readers(specifically targets autism+, autism
and readingcomprehension program *joseph porter+ 1rton ?illingham, Wilson, and
International)ssociation of 4yslexia written curriculum program.I am also familiar with
6I$% and explode the code
What math programs are you familiar with/have e(perience with?
I am familiar with several different math programs. I have experience with
@oughtonmifflin 9 ?oMath, axon math programs. I've worked with the Invision math
program aswell as the %veryday Math program. I also have experience the touchmath
program andhave found it extremely beneficial to aid students that re!uire support in
basic mathcomputation skills.
What are some strategies you use to help a general education teacher modifycurriculum and
differentiate instruction?
graphic or advance, organi&ers, semantic maps, mnemonics, chunking,
visuali&ingstrategies, study guides, highlighting(underlining are just some of the
strategies that Iwould suggest using when working with a teacher to identify ways to
modify curriculum.I would also suggest breaking down information into smaller chunks. I
would also assistthe teacher in leveling assignments making sure that the work stays
within the students