Interview Questions for Schools going 1:1

It’s that time of year again. Contracts are due in the international teaching world and recruiting fairs are just around the corner. I have solicited the help of my friend, and Deputy Superintendent of Shanghai American School, Andy Torris to help me craft a set of interview questions that administrators can use as they go recruiting this season. There are many international schools in the Asia region, and I would guess around the world, that are 1:1 (One computer per student) or are headed there in the next two to three years. At the EARCOS Administrators Conference earlier this year, all 26 business managers that I talked to were working at schools that were 1:1 already or would be 1:1 in the next one to two years. Yes…change is happening in our international schools and it’s a great time to be an international school educator. With all this change happening, and Shanghai American School itself looking to go 1:1 in the near future, Andy and I worked to put together a list of questions similar to the list that I created last year. Our aim is to help administrators as they start recruiting with some questions they can ask during the interview process. Of course these are just technology/learning focused questions and we understand that there are many more questions that should be asked during an interview. Our hope is that an administrator might be able to take a few questions from this list based on their school’s individual needs and use them to find teachers who would be successful in a 1:1 school. We have arranged the questions in order, with the first 5 questions we feel being the most important, and getting into deep understanding of changed teaching practices as the questions progress. It’s my experience that many of the teachers out there will struggle with the first five questions…which gives those that don’t, a real leg up. So…here are our questions! You can download the PDF at the bottom of the page. Questions for teachers entering a 1:1 school What computer platform are you most comfortable with, Mac, PC or Tablet? I think this is an important question as schools become focused on a platform. It’s not an indication of whether or not you are going to hire the person, but their answer to this question based on what your school is (Mac, PC, or Tablet)...

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Risk takers and podcasts

We had a great conversation last Thursday night on the Shifting Our Schools (SOS) podcast. We ran about an hour and one thing I love about running my own podcast is I get to determine the length. As long as the conversation is good…let audacity roll! 🙂 At one point in the show we start talking about teachers and what we (as technology people who are helping to embed technology into the regular classroom) want to see. We talk about teachers who are willing to learn and banter that around for awhile until we land on this: “We don’t want teachers as learners, we want teachers as risk takers!” If you listen to the podcast you’ll know when I say it because there is a long pause as we all let that sink in. But it’s true, as a teacher, as an administrator I want risk takers. What if we change the interview question from: Do you consider yourself a life long learner? (A question I’ve been asked in every interview) to Are you a professional risk taker? Give me an example of a professional risk you took last year? What did you learn from this risk? What would your students say? Do you believe it’s OK to fail? Either way it was a great conversation around what types of teacher we have access to as integrators. We all agreed it was teachers who are willing to take that professional risk and invite you into the classroom that have the most success. On another podcasting note and while we’re on the topic of risk taking. Dereck Rhoads left a comment the other day on what has become my most popular post to date about Interview questions for International School Job Fairs. While recruiting Dereck used some of the questions that I put forth in the post, changed them, adapted them to fit his needs and used them while recruiting. But Dereck didn’t stop there. He recorded an interview with a teacher candidate and then posted it to his blog to share with the rest of us. This has me thinking on so many different levels: How does this change the interview process? Specifically for international educators where distance and costs are a factor? What insight does a candidate now have not only on the questions that Dereck is most likely to ask, but also in getting a feel for...

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Teachers and Technology

My last post included the picture above around my thoughts about what makes a well rounded teacher in the 21st Century. I put the word Technology in the circle without defining exactly what that means. It was great to see commenters pick up on this fact. My point in doing this (I think) was to look at how we define technology when we talk about teaching. There is: Technology as a tool Technology skills The use of technology Technology terminology Technology as a teaching device Technology as a learning device (and I’m sure more) When we talk about technology as it refers to teachers, I believe we can only define what it is we are looking for based off of where our school is with the adoption of technology in all of the above categories. I can tell you what I want teachers to do at my school, but that is going to be different from what I expect teachers to know/do at a school that is 1:1. Or a school that does not have an LCD in every classroom and mobile labs. Each school is unique and each school administrator must come to an understanding of what they want their teachers to be able to know and do. As I talked to a couple administrators this past weekend about technology and the hiring of teachers I encouraged all of them to stop asking the question “Can you give me an example of how you integrate technology?” The question has become a standard part of any interview, and at this point in time I believe every teacher candidate that is looking for a job has their response already thought out and can tell you that one great lesson they do that integrates technology on some level. What I believe administrators need to do is start asking questions that get to a deeper level of both the teachers comfort level with technology and the skills and beliefs they have around its use in the classroom as a learning device. It is OK to listen to a story about how a teacher integrates technology around these question as long as you know what you should be listening for (more on this later). We all integrate technology right? (I assume so if you are reading this blog…if not please Skype me…we need to talk!) If administrator ask questions that allow them to...

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Interview questions for International School Job Fairs

Over the past three weeks, I’ve been asked by a number of administrators in the international world for a list of skills and questions for interviewing potential teaching candidates. The recruiting season for International teachers starts here very soon and schools who have decided to make 21st Century Learning a priority are looking for a checklist of sorts to find those teachers who can teach in a “new school.” (Side Note: I wonder if any international schools take their IT Directors with them recruiting? Why or why not? If you were a technology-focused school, don’t you think you’d want them in on an interview?) You will notice that my list says absolutely nothing about integrating technology or how the teacher uses technology in his/her classroom. No, this list focuses directly on the skill set and the tools these teachers use for their own learning. I want to know what personal technology skills these teachers bring to my school. I want to know how much PD time it is going to take to get them from where they are, to where I believe they need to be in order for the learning environment to change. This list of questions is broken into parts starting with basic computing skills and then moving to more advanced knowledge and skills. During the interview, I would also be looking at the body language in response to the questions and their responses. I want to see teachers get excited when they talk about the latest gadget they bought. I don’t want to hear “I bought a digital camera, but can’t get the darn pictures onto my computer.” Instead, I want to watch someone’s face light up when he/she talks about the new cell phone, or new iPod. I don’t care what the gadget is, it’s the body language and the tone of the response that is important. Every applicant must first understand the technology situation at your school. Do not bother going through an interview process with prospective teachers if they do not want to or are not excited about teaching and learning in a networked environment. By starting an interview off by being up front and frank, you might save both you and the interviewee some time. “We are a 1:1 school, meaning all students at our school have a laptop that they bring with them every day. You need to understand that we...

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