language arts teacher interview questions

Interviews are exciting. Stressful, but exciting. Whether you are interviewing for your first teaching position, heading back into the classroom after time away, or looking for a new challenge in a different district or grade level, preparing for your interview is key. By having a clear idea of how you might respond to some of the most common teacher interview questions before you get in front of your future principal, you’re far more likely to appear professional and feel confident. We’ve compiled a list of not only the questions you’d have most likely been asked before COVID-19, but also some of the new questions school districts have added to their interview repertoires. Spend a bit of time thinking about how you’d answer each of the questions below, and you’ll be ready to nail that interview!

English Language Arts Teacher (ELA Teacher) Interview Questions
1 Please share with me an example of how you helped coach or mentor someone. What improvements did you see in the person’s knowledge or skills?
14 Share an example of a student who needed extra help. How did you identify the student? What action did you take?

Teacher Interview Questions and Tips!

Interview with Colby Sharp, Michigan Language Arts Teacher

Colby Sharp talked to us about his experiences working as a fourth grade teacher. Colby attended Western Michigan University where he earned a BS in Education. He later earned an MS in Literacy. During our conversation, we discussed how Colby builds a community of lifelong readers, writers and thinkers. We also learned how he balances the roles of parent, teacher, and husband, and his personal philosophy for how to best prepare fourth graders for middle school.

Colby Sharp TeacherWhat do you enjoy most about teaching fourth grade? I enjoy my readers’ love for the world and their desire to learn as much about it as possible.

On your site, Sharpread, you mention that your classroom passion is focused upon “building lifelong readers, writers and thinkers.” How do you accomplish this? Things can get a little crazy in fourth grade and often we have to move things around and skip over some of the activities that we had planned. On day one, I tell my students that each day they come to school they will read, write, think, and have recess. They can choose what they read, what they write and how they think about what we are discussing and learning. They also get to pick what they do at recess, but they cannot choose to not read, not think, not write, and not play. It seems to work out pretty well.

Please describe a typical day in the classroom. Does a typical day exist? Just kidding. This year, I teach only language arts. I have two sections, so I have each set of kids for a half day. We don’t do anything flashy or fancy. We read, we write and we talk about reading and writing.

How do you use technology as a tool for learning in your classroom? I think we need to be careful with technology and make sure that we are using it as a tool to get across what we want students to learn. I try to keep technology as authentic as possible: students blog, students read book blogs, we Skype, we write. Nothing fancy.

What techniques do you use to create a harmonious work and life balance? Hmmm…This is a difficult question. I wouldn’t say that I always do a good job balancing life. My family comes first, so from 5 – 9 PM each night, I spend time with my wife and children. My kids are young so I am able to do a lot of reading with them. I try to get a lot of things done in the morning. I wake up about 80 minutes before my family members do, and I get to school about 90 minutes before school starts. This allows me to be able to leave school within 45 minutes of dismissal. The most important thing that I do to keep life in balance is date my wife. During 95% of weekends, we go out for at least dinner – just the two of us. It is my favorite part of my week.

How do you empower fourth graders for the significant transitions that are just around the corner in middle school? My fourth graders go to middle school in fifth grade, so it is a pretty hot topic from spring break until the end of the school year. I don’t ever think of preparing them for middle school. I think that I am just trying to help prepare them for life. Our job as teachers is to take our students from wherever they are socially and academically, and help them move forward. Just like with my own children, I want my students to be the best individuals they can be.

We thank Colby for sharing his thoughts about his educational philosophy, and wish him a successful year of teaching. Visit his blog Sharpread, for more discussions about language arts education and be sure to follow him on Instagram @colbysharp.

Read about how to become a teacher in Michigan.

Interview with John Ritchie, Former President of the Kansas Association of Teachers of English

John Ritchie, who at the time of this interview was the President of the Kansas Association of Teachers of English, was kind enough to spend some of his time on an interview with us. Below are his insights on becoming a teacher and making the most out of technology in and out of the classroom.

teacher john ritchieCan you share with us what led you to pursue a career in teaching? As an English major at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, I was not initially interested in teaching – at least not at the secondary level. However, it was something I naturally fell into. During my time at UNK, I worked as both a writing consultant at the UNK Writing Center and as a tutor for the UNK Learning Center. Without intending to, I found myself in teaching roles. I also found that I enjoyed the experience of working one-on-one and in larger groups to help people write better and learn critical thinking skills. I taught Composition classes as a graduate student earning my Master’s Degree. I enjoyed those classes so much that, instead of continuing on for a PhD, I shocked family and friends by going back for a Secondary Education degree just so I could focus the majority of my efforts in the classroom and with students.

What technology tools do you find most effective for helping your students learn in the classroom? Google has several free and easy-to-use tools for teachers and students alike. While many of my students do not have the latest version of Word on their home computers (or sometimes even have a home computer), the majority of them have smart phones or constant access to the Internet. Google Docs has been particularly helpful since students can write essays from any device connected to the Internet. They no longer have to worry about flash drives, compatibility, or e-mailing essays back and forth. Google Docs also allows us to save paper by allowing me to comment on students’ essays online. That opens the revision process to beyond the 48 minutes in the classroom.

Are there any ways that technology makes teaching more difficult? Relying solely upon text-based sources in the past made teaching research much easier because something in print had gone through a review and editing process before it was ever printed. Students and teachers could readily accept the majority of printed material as credible without thinking too much about it. The Internet has made teaching research much more difficult because it has leveled the field in terms of credible and non-credible sources. Students do not differentiate between credible and non-credible sources because the Internet has no standard way of doing so. It would be easy to just limit students to scholarly databases, but that feels like forcing students to stay in my world rather than exploring theirs. So, I’ve adapted by teaching more technology literacy in my classes to help them evaluate the credibility of any potential source online.

What are some of the benefits of joining a teachers association like the Kansas Association of Teachers of English for a new teacher? The best benefit for joining an association like the Kansas Association of Teachers of English (KATE) is that teachers realize that we are not alone in our stress and in our concerns. It gives teachers a network of dedicated professionals to meet, exchange ideas with, and stay connected to through places like our website, our Facebook page, and our annual conference. The annual KATE Conference takes place in late October, which is perfect timing. I always start the school year full of optimism and enthusiasm that this year will be the best year ever. However, the hopes of August quickly give way to the realities of October. By October I’ve noticed that we’re slower, a bit more weary, and not as full of hope and optimism. That’s when I reinvigorate my year with a trip to the KATE Conference. As a member of an organization like KATE, I know that I always have hardworking people to turn to whenever I need help or a bit of advice regarding a lesson in my classroom.

What are some of your favorite activities to increase student involvement in your classroom? My classes focus a lot on the writing process. I had the English teachers who would assign an essay, wouldn’t say much about it until it was due, and then return the final draft three or four weeks later filled with red ink. That never made much sense to me, primarily because what was the point of all of my teacher’s work if there was nothing I could do to fix the issue on that draft? Instead, my students receive an essay assignment and then have multiple days in class dedicated to completing and discussing multiple drafts. It’s a friendly workshop atmosphere that encourages students to take responsibility for their work and help one another. They see me more as a coach and editor rather than a final judge. They learn by shaping the essay and ongoing discussions with me and their peers. By the time a final draft comes in, I have already worked with them on at least two other drafts. They have clear expectations going into the final draft and, most of the time, end up submitting a draft they are proud of without concern about the final numerical grade. Because of the communal atmosphere writing creates in my classroom, writing essays are usually one of my favorite activities.

Do you have any advice for students who are preparing to begin their teaching careers? I always tell education students that their methods classes will prepare them for observations, observations will prepare them for student teaching, and student teaching will prepare them for the first minute of the first day of school. Nothing but experience will prepare them for what comes afterward. I warn them that they will often feel overwhelmed to the point of drowning, but the relative good news is that we all feel that way – we just learn how to deal with it over the years. In order to survive those first few years, future teachers must have three qualities: patience, flexibility, and a good sense of humor. We all make mistakes; the trick is to accept it, admit fault right away, and keep the damage to a minimum. Future teachers should also be very selective in their first position. Never, as I did, accept a position that opens up in the middle of the school year – chances are that there are good reasons why the teacher would be willing to break his/her contract to quit. Future teachers should also make sure their new position has a district-wide mentoring program that pairs the first-year teacher with an experienced teacher. Future teachers should learn the word “no” when it comes to committees and sponsoring student organizations. We have enough to adjust to in trying to balance a new professional career and still maintaining a healthy personal life away from school without having to worry about a packed after school schedule. Future teachers should get involved in their profession. Join a professional organization like the National Council of Teachers of English or KATE, or whatever organization contributes to the development of standards and curricula for their content area. These organizations are typically filled with teachers who care about their discipline and are shaping the future of our field. For those with the patience, the flexibility, and the sense of humor to make it through the first year, teaching as a career is a wonderful and rewarding experience.

We thank John for his time and for sharing his expertise with us. You can learn more about his experience on his LinkedIn.

Read about how to become a teacher in Kansas.

11. What role do you believe diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives should play in your classroom and in the school?

Questions about DEI initiatives, policies, and mindsets are challenging but have definitely become standard in most teacher interviews. Many school districts want to know that incoming educators are open to having the challenging conversations and doing the difficult work of building anti-racist curriculum and policies. In more traditional districts, interviewers might be on the lookout for teachers whose views might be “too progressive” for the parents in their schools. Answer these questions truthfully. If you feel strongly that anti-racist policies are important and want DEI initiatives to be respected and valued in the district where you work, you should know that before you accept a teaching position.


What are the 10 most common teacher interview questions and answers?

Questions to Ask in a Teacher Interview
  • What would my goals be for the first year?
  • What’s the average classroom size?
  • What’s the school’s culture like?
  • Do you have an active PTA?
  • What are the other teachers like?
  • How is the interaction between the school and the parents?

What questions can be asked in an interview of English teacher?

10 Interview Questions for English Teachers to Prepare for When Applying Abroad
  • Can you tell me a little about yourself? …
  • Why do you want to be a teacher? …
  • What’s the best way to teach English? …
  • What’s a challenge you’ve faced in the classroom? …
  • What are some successful teaching methods you use?

What are the basic questions asked in teacher interview?

Bonus teacher interview questions
  • Why are you interested in teaching at this school?
  • What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
  • How do you use technology in the classroom?
  • What would you do if a student is in danger of failing your class?
  • What adjectives would you use to describe your presence in the classroom?

What questions should I ask a language teacher?

Is language an academic subject or a practical skill? How do you turn learning stuff into being able to do stuff? How do you know if you’ve taught a good lesson? If your students like you, does this mean you’re a good teacher?

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