Science helps young students understand the world, and their place in it better. Physics, Chemistry, or Biology aren’t as popular as they used to be though. Some people get a false impression that we should even replace them in the middle school and high school curricula, at least partially.
They say that in the 21st century, with any information just a few clicks away, it makes no sense forcing students to learn the laws of Physics or chemical formulas. In my opinion, such advocates cannot be farther from the truth.
One can avoid laws of man for a while, but there are greater laws that cannot be broken, and each child should get an opportunity to learn them at school. You will make it possible as a Science Teacher, and I want to thank you for choosing this career!
A relatively easy interview
Speaking about your interview, I have mostly good news. First of all, science teaching isn’t as popular as elementary or literacy teaching, or even Math teaching. Which means that you typically won’t compete with many people for the job, which makes it easier to succeed.
Secondly, you do not have to be afraid of facing some tricky questions related to the subjects you teach, such as “Explain us the theory of relativity“. People who will interview you for the job–either a school principal, or some other people from the administration of the school and district, won’t ask you such questions. They do not specialize in science, and they would not be able to evaluate your answers to similar questions.
They will typically inquire only about your motivation, education & experience, job choice, and about certain challenges you may face in your science classes. Think problems with discipline, lack of interest, using technology, safety protections in the lab, and so on. Let’s have a look at the questions.
Why do you want to work as a Science Teacher?
You should try to cover two subjects in your answer. First one–the meaningful purpose you see in teaching science, and how it motivates you to teach it well. You can talk about the vital role science plays in almost every aspect of our life, and how it is now more important than ever for young people to understand the processes in the nature, and that we are part of it, and what we can do to prevent the climatic catastrophe (which is already happening). Of course, you can talk also about less sensitive subjects.
Second area you should cover is explaining how your skills, personality, and preferences match the job description. You can talk about your ability to explain difficult matters in a simple way, your communication skills, love for science, and how you thrive in a working environment full of young people. They should hear enthusiasm in your voice while you are explaining your career choice.
One common mistake job seekers make at this point is referring to the past. They’ve earned their degree in science and also their teaching certificate, so what else would they do now? Saying this indicates a must. You did something in the past, invested money and time into education, so now you have to teach….
In an interview for any job, however, you should show desire to the job. You apply for a Science Teacher position because you really want to teach science, and not because of what happened in your past. Keep it on your mind while explaining your career choice and motivation in the interviews.
Can you tell us more about your previous experience with teaching science?
A good scientist is not necessarily a good teacher of science. That’s why they will often ask you about your experience teaching, and you can find yourself in two positions: Either you have taught before, or you haven’t. Let me tell you how to deal with the question in both instances.
In the first case, you should narrate your teaching experience, explaining where you taught, the age of the students, size of the classroom, subjects you taught, whether you had students with special needs in your classes, etc. You can also name one or two challenges you faced, and, of course, any achievements you’ve had with your students–for example preparing someone for Physics competition, and they happened to win the first prize. Interviewers should get an impression that you enjoyed your teaching, and cannot wait to teach again.
In the second case (when you lack teaching experience), they key is to show confidence in your ability to teach well. You can even refer to some role models you had in life–science teachers at middle school or high school, and how they inspired you with their teaching. At this point, you can also mention your teaching certificate. In theory you learned what it means to teach well. Now you just need to get a chance to put your knowledge to practice…
Many children struggle with Physics, or Chemistry. What can you do as a science teacher to help them improve their grades?
This is a tricky one, and you can approach it from different angles. However, you should never leave all responsibility on the shoulders of the students, saying that they simply have to study harder at home and spend more time preparing for the exams. Schools do not look for teachers who have this attitude.
One of the good options you have is emphasizing individual approach. As long as the size of the classroom and lesson plans allow you to do so, you want to work individually with students who struggle. Tutoring them after school, in a small group, is another idea. Ensure the interviewers that you care about the grades of your students, and will try to help them improve on their results.
Second option is talking about your teaching methods. Instead of relying on lecturing, you will try to make the lessons as practical as possible, including examples from real life, work in the lab (when appropriate), and other things that should make it easier for the students to understand the lessons.
Children are losing interest in traditional subjects like Math, Physics, or Biology. How do you want to motivate them?
Once again, you should accept some responsibility. We are in the classroom for the students, and not contrariwise, as many teachers sadly believe… You can talk about trying to make your lessons more engaging and interesting. Modern technology helps a lot with the task, since you can show them fascinating science documentaries or chemical experiments on the screen. But your options definitely do not end here.
You can talk about involving them more in the teaching process, applying student-oriented teaching methods in your classes, such as a flipped classroom or even learning by playing. And whenever you can, you will take them to the lab or to the nature so they can actually see, feel and touch what they are learning about. Helping them to see the connection with the real world, you will always improve their motivation.
Of course, in each class you will have some bad students. Regardless of what you do and how hard you try, they just won’t pay attention, and will barely pass the exams (if they pass at all). This is something you have to accept as a teacher. You will try your best in the science classes, but you also know that it won’t yield the desired result with every student.
Imagine that you are in the lab with your students and one of them starts screaming, saying that they’ve burned their face. What will you do?
Anytime you get a similar question, I suggest you to start your answer with emphasizing safety precautions. You will stick to the protocol 100%, and check that every student uses glasses, protective gloves and other safety equipment. Simply you will do whatever you can to minimize the chances of similar accidents.
They can still occur occasionally though, since you have only one pair of eyes, and students may sometimes do stupid things. When something happens, first and foremost you will try to stay calm, to not aggravate the problem further, or involve other students in it. You will immediately inspect the situation, evaluate the problem, and call medical help, if needed. In no way will you take the situation lightly.
What’s more, you will also try to learn the lesson from the situation, analyzing what exactly happened, whether you made any mistakes, and making sure a similar accident won’t repeat again during your classes.
Other questions you may face in your interview for a Science Teacher job
- What makes a good science teacher nowadays?
- How would you handle a student who is constantly disruptive and defiant?
- Do you have any experience teaching students with special needs?
- How can we make science more attractive for the children?
- Where do you see yourself in five years time?
- Describe the role technology plays in your work of a science teacher.
- What teaching methods do you prefer and why?
- Why did you apply for the job with other school, and not with some other place?
There’s no need to stress out before your science teaching interview. It isn’t hard to predict the questions you will face, and you can prepare for them in advance. Just make sure to show enthusiasm for your teaching mission, and right attitude to the tricky situations you may face in the classroom. Following my advice you should be able to do so. Good luck!
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