School can never prepare us for the real challenges we will face in the classroom. Once you have taught for a while already, you have certainly experienced all sorts of situations with your students–both positive, and negative. Interviewing for a job of a teacher, or for a position of a vice principal, members of the interviewing panel will often inquire about your teaching experiences. They may ask you to elaborate on particular incidents, or they may simply wonder what you have learned from various experiences with the students, and how these experiences have impacted you as a teacher (and future administrator or even leader of the school).
As a rule of a thumb, you should remain positive in your answer. What I try to say here is that negative experiences typically leave the biggest mark on both our memory and soul. For example when some student unexpectedly betrayed your trust, or when you gave your very best, tried really hard, and got no positive response from the students. Such things do happen, and we have to count with them. But lessons you learn in such situations should not form the core of your answer to this question, unless you turn things up side down and say that they actually taught you to accept your own limitations as a teacher.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this interesting question. I tried to include a variety of answers on my list. Some typical choices, answers for both seasoned teachers and people with little teaching experience, and also some unconventional out of the box answers. Basically a nice mix and hopefully at least one of these answers will resonate with you, and serve as a base for your own interview answer. Let’s start!
7 sample answers to “What have you learned from your teaching experiences?” interview question
- More than anything else I’ve learned that learning never stops for the best teacher. Many times I thought I knew how my students would react to this or that subject, this or that teaching method. And sometimes I was right, but many times their response surprised me, and I quickly understood that I still have to learn a lot to understand the students. What’s more, the world evolves so quickly, so does the lessons, the use of technology in the classroom, and everything else in education. If I want to teach effectively and make sure that students stay engaged and motivated, I have to go with the flow, and always innovate my teaching. That’s the most important lesson I learned from my teaching experiences.
- I haven’t learned much yet, because I’ve been teaching for one year only. But judging by various experiences with individual students, I came to a conclusion that individual approach is the key in education. Sure enough, I haven’t taught for that long, and cannot say this with 100% certainty. But it is the impression I’ve got so far. You cannot hope to achieve the same results with two classes, or even two students, following the same approach to teaching. Each class and even each student reacts differently to various teaching methods, and in order to help everyone reach their full potential, we have to take this into consideration when working with the students. At least that’s my impression.
- I’ve been teaching for 20 years now, and feel that I’ve experienced so much with the students. I always tried to approach my teaching with an open mind, and always asked my students for feedback. Learned a lot of things, but perhaps the most important lesson is that we should focus on effort instead of results. Because life is complicated, many children come from broken families, and regardless of how hard you try with someone, you may fail to achieve your goals. When you care for your students–and I do, you may find it hard to bear such an outcome, at least as long as you focus on results. But when you move your attention from results to effort–your effort as a teacher, you will find it much easier to cope with such setbacks, and next morning you’ll be ready to try your best again… Would you like me to elaborate on any other lessons I learned from my teaching experiences?
- More than anything else I learned that we should expect the unpredictable. So many factors come into play when it comes to the way your students react in the lesson… How they feel, what they experienced in previous lessons on the day, what happened to them back at home, even the weather outside has an impact on their ability to concentrate. It happened to me several times that I had an excellent materials ready for my students, and was sure that they’d react positively to it, and the engagement would be high. But the exact opposite happened. On other occasions, the lesson did not seem particularly interesting to me, yet students paid attention, asked questions, and it was a success. What I try to convey here is that we definitely do not have everything under our control as teachers, and we should accept that.
- I have learned nothing so far, because this is my first job application in the field. But I also believe that wise people do not learn only from their own experiences and mistakes, but also from experiences of others. And that’s exactly what I try to do. I’ve interviewed many teachers, asking about challenges they face in the classroom. I wondered how they dealt with this or that, how they reacted to all sorts of tricky situation. I believe it will help me to make right decisions while teaching, at least until I gain my own experiences.
- It may surprise you, but learned that I do not want to teach anymore. Not that I did not enjoy my teaching. But I really feel that I will find a much better application for my strengths and talents in the role of a school principal than in daily teaching of students. That’s actually one of the reasons why I decided to submit my application, and I am glad you gave me a chance in this interview. In my opinion, I can do more for this school and the students from a leadership position. Setting direction and leading teachers and other staff members, I believe I can make this place a great school for everyone involved in the process of education. And it is important that I learned this lesson, and found courage to apply, because if I did not I might spend the rest of my professional career teaching, which I believe would be a waste of talent…
- I have learned few crucial lessons from my teaching experiences. First one–children can be wonderful, but also incredibly cruel towards both their classmates and teachers. One has to accept it and live with it unless they want to experience a burnout or mental issues. Second–law of action and reaction works also in education. If you prepare well for the lessons, if you really are in the classroom for the children, and do what you can to deliver the lesson in an engaging way, you’ll get positive reactions. Exception just prove the rule. Third, that you can never become complacent as a teacher. Students need new impulses, and you have to come up with some innovation when it comes to your teaching, at least if you want to stay on the top of the game. And forth, that despite the challenges and hardships, I really love teaching, and hope to teach for the foreseeable future.
Ready to answer this tricky interview question? I hope so! Do not forget to check also sample answers to other interview questions for teachers:
- How do you keep students engaged and motivated?
- Why should we hire you as a teacher?
- How do you connect your lessons to the real world?