Body, mind, and soul–all three are interconnected. We cannot hope of living in a “happy America” when half of our children are either obese or overweight, and when teenagers spend twelve hours a day sitting, looking at a screen of their smart phone, tablet, laptop, or TV. That’s a road to hell, no road to prosperity and bright future. Teaching Physical Education, especially at elementary and secondary school, you have a chance to help reverse the negative trend. You can help children rediscover their love for the most natural action of all–movement of their bodies. So thank you for choosing PE for your specialization, and now let me help you ace your interview and get the job.
Good news first: Do not expect a difficult interview. Questions are predictable, which means you can prepare for them in advance. No big surprises here really. As long as you show right attitude to teaching, and motivation to achieve good results with your students, and won’t remain silent when hearing the questions of the interviewers, they will give you a chance in the job. At least in nine out of ten cases they will, which are better odds than you’d get in an interview for almost any other job. Let’s proceed to the questions.
Why do you want to work as a PE Teacher?
Often the first, and sometimes also the most important question you will answer in your interview. You can definitely talk about the issues I mentioned in the opening to this post–the pandemic of obesity in children, lack of movement, and terrible consequences it will invariably have not only in the lives of children, but in the live of our entire society–because everything relates to everything.
Hence you see a meaningful purpose in this job, and want to play your role in reversing the negative trend. Sure enough, you’re not going to save the world from obesity, but you can play your role on making things better, at least in the local community. One thing to remember here: if people sitting in the hiring committee are also obese, try be sensitive with your choice of words. The last thing you want is offending the person who is deciding about your success or failure in the interview.
Besides the meaningful purpose, you can refer to many other things. You personal love for movement, the fact that you actually enjoy teaching, and spending time with children (or teenagers, depending on the grade level), and any other reasons of your choice.
Children aren’t particularly motivated to exercise nowadays. What will you do to motivate them?
Try to show some creativeness at this point. Of course, you will have your lesson plans and everything. Frankly speaking though, it makes no sense practicing some gymnastics with overweight children who can only harm themselves while doing so, and will loathe the PE afterwards, or even skip lessons because of fear.
Say that you will try to find activities children like, or at least tolerate. Games are typically your best bet. Be it basketball, soccer, baseball–anything with a ball, even a ping-pong. You can even suggest individual approach to each student. Each child has predispositions for one sport at least. You will try to discover it in each case, and then you will make sure that the child has an opportunity to develop their talents.
You can definitely mention other forms of motivation, for example adjusting the grading to the abilities of each individual child, and focusing more on improvement than the actual time or distance. An overweight child who barely moves at home will hardly run a mile in six minutes… But maybe he or she runs it thirty seconds faster at the end of the school year than they did in the beginning, or at least they manage to slowly cover the distance without falling to the ground from exhaustion, which is undoubtedly a big improvement…
What are your expectations on your colleagues, other teachers, administrators?
You have two good options here. Once is saying that you do not have any expectations at the moment. You consider their school a great place, and without a doubt other people know what they are supposed to do, and do their job well. If they did not do so, they would not be teaching there. Hence you prefer to focus on your job, trying your best in every PE class, and at the same time fostering good relationship with your new colleagues.
Another option is actually saying that you hope other teachers will help you promote PE in the classes. We all know how it goes… Often lacking movement and good physical condition, many teachers tend to dismiss the importance of PE in front of their students. They say Math or Physics or History or whatever is more important for their future. But is it really true? Can you be happy in any job, if you struggle with bare movement, or spend weeks every year visiting doctors? You cannot… Hence you can say that you hope your colleagues will help you promote the importance of PE and movement in general.
Do you plan to include parents in your teaching?
This is a tricky one, and if you’ve ever taught at any school before and tried to involve parents in the education of their children, you for sure know why… First of all, many children come from broken or incomplete families, and parents often do not care, or do not have time to care, what is going on in the school. And secondly, most of them do not give PE a particularly high importance anyway.
But you can say that you will at least try. Because many times parents press for their children to be exempt from Physical Education, thinking they are helping them, while in fact they are doing the complete opposite. Hence you can suggest discussing the issue with the parents, in each individual case, face to face, or at least on the phone. You will try to explain them that every child should move, regardless of their limitations. Such effort may not yield the desired results, but at least you can give it a try…
Why do you want to teach PE at our school, and not somewhere else?
Give them some praise, but be realistic. Maybe they have excellent gyms and sport grounds, and swimming pool, and modern equipment in place. Every single PE teacher would love to have such facilities at their disposal, and you are no exception to the rule. Or their students have achieved good results in certain sports, be it athletics, swimming, or team sports, and you’d love to lead such students in your classes.
Another option is praising their attitude to PE in general and how they promote it across the board. Third alternative is focusing on the situation with jobs. Maybe their school is the only one advertising job of a PE teacher at the moment, at your desired level of education. You like their place in general, and of course you want to teach, hence you went for it without a blink of an eye.
Last but not least, you can refer to reasons that have little to do with PE, but make their school a great choice in your eyes. Perhaps you love their mission statement, attitude to special education, overall vibe of the place, the campus, the school leadership, or anything else. If the leaders of the school have done a good job, you should recognize it in your interview.
Other questions you may face in your PE Teacher interview
- What is your opinion about Physical Education for students with special needs?
- What is your favorite sport or athletic discipline and why?
- Do you have any experience with coaching a sport team? Would you like to coach one here?
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
- What teaching methods do you prefer and why?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
- Describe your classroom management style?
- Except of PE, would you like to teach any other subject?
- What do you enjoy to do in your free time?
- After everything we discussed here, do you want to ask us something?
* Special tip: you can also download the full list of questions in a simple, one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
PE matters more than anytime before, and at least most school administrators are aware of it. They care about healthy development of their students, and know that being healthy and moving forms an integral part of their development. Hence you can definitely refer to it, in many of your interview answers, just like I suggested. You can call it your “last resort“, something you can always point out when not sure what to say.
In any case, this isn’t a particularly difficult interview. As long as you learn something about the school and how they promote PE and sports, and prepare for your interview following my advice, you should pass it, and get the job. Good luck!
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