7th grade Math interview questions!
June 17, 2010 1:33 PM   Subscribe

What questions might I expect at my upcoming interview for a middle school (7th grade) math position?

I don't need pointers on how to be confident in interviews, I have no problem with that. I have a general idea of what to expect, I just want to make sure this interview goes well because I would really like to have this job. I want to have excellent and original responses to whatever they ask me, so... Ask me ANY question you think is pertinent!
posted by ReWayne to Work & Money (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My mother used to be the parent representative on interview panels. The question she could often stump people with was this: If a student is acting up in your classroom, what is the best way to respond?

One person once answered they would make the kid stand in the corner and take a time out. In high school! Did not get the job. Adjust accordingly.

Good luck.
posted by sdrawkcab at 1:41 PM on June 17, 2010

How will you accommodate students who have varied levels of experience in any given topic? For example, in your lesson on exponents, you might have students who have already mastered this topic and you might have students who can barely multiply. How will you meet the needs of both of those groups in one class session?

Do you think it is more important for students to drill memorized work or to reason out the answers to problems?

How will you accommodate students who don't speak English in your classroom? (Because, you know, numbers are universal so the ESL kids should be just fine in Math class. Never mind that today's lesson is the Commutative Property.)

What kind of discipline procedures do you envision in your classroom?
posted by CathyG at 1:43 PM on June 17, 2010

When my Dad interviewed for the job he now has, they asked him if he'd have interest in being involved in any extracurricular activities. I'm sure telling them that he wanted to start a drama club was a big plus to them.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:45 PM on June 17, 2010

"As a teacher you are told by one of your students that she or he is being cyberbullied by other members of the class on the Facebook and the Myspace. There is little apparent interaction between the students in question in the classroom or playground and the school restricts computer access so they must be logging in from home computers or from their mobile smartphones (this sometimes takes place at school perhaps). The parents don't know yet. What do you do?"
posted by Bwithh at 2:01 PM on June 17, 2010

They might ask you to do or teach some math. Anecdotal, but I do remember this one secretary exclaiming at how many times in her career she's seen candidates unable to provide a single proof of the Pythagorean formula even when allowed to accept law of cosines as given.
posted by d. z. wang at 2:05 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm closing out my sixth year of teaching, and spent five of them teaching 6th grade math.

I'd expect a question about what you're going to do to raise standardized test scores. They may also ask you about how you plan to use technology in your lessons, so I'd look into websites like www.mathfrog.ca.

How about the topics that are most challenging to kids in seventh grade and how you're going to teach them? Do you have a good method for teaching kids to perform arithmetic with positive and negative numbers? In grades 1-5, kids learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide with whole numbers. In grade 6, they have to learn how to do these four operations with fractions, mixed numbers, decimals, and positive and negative integers. It confuses the hell out of them, and much of your time is going to be spent expanding upon and reviewing these topics with them.

How about this: what would it take for you to place a phone call to a parent?

If I were interviewing you, I'd probably ask you about student teaching and what you learned from it.

I would ask them questions, too, like how many kids are going to be taking pre-algebra as opposed to a generic seventh grade math class, whether they use tracking, and whether you'll have access to a SmartBoard. For bonus points, ask what science (physical, earth, or biology) they take in grade 7.

Good luck.
posted by alphanerd at 2:12 PM on June 17, 2010

How can you tell a lesson has been successful?

What are some non-negotiables in your classroom?
posted by violetish at 2:13 PM on June 17, 2010

Make sure you are familiar with your state's Math standards that you'll have to teach to. Be prepared to answer how you feel about standardized testing.

I have been asked in the past to teach sample lessons (to adults as well as children) and to hand write a letter to a parent about their child, so be prepared that you might have to give a writing sample.

You'll also get hit with a lot of "hypotheticals" like many listed already here. It's ok to stop and think of an answer without just jumping in and replying because the silence seems uncomfortable. They'll appreciate that your answers are thoughtful.

It's helpful too to visit their website and familiarize yourself with that school's mission statement (if they have one). The internet is a great tool to learn about the district and the activities and types of students that attend. Check out their past state test scores and see how they're doing with their AYP. Saying things like "I noticed on your website that you have a Mathletes team, I'd really be interesting in being a faculty advisor" is a good way to turn that information into an advantage.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:40 PM on June 17, 2010

sdrawkcab My mother used to be the parent representative on interview panels. The question she could often stump people with was this: If a student is acting up in your classroom, what is the best way to respond?

That was your mom?

I hated that question more than any other one. My answer was always along the lines of, "Well, I really can't say if that's all you can give me for information, I'd need to know more to determine a course of action: Is this a new behavior for the student? Have their grades dropped? What do you mean by "acting up" - are they just calling out? Being rude and disrespectful? To me? To other students? Could something be going on at home? Are they able to handle the work I'm giving them? Are they ignoring my nonverbal signals and requests to stop? There are many reasons why a kid could be acting up in class and with each reason is a slightly different strategy for dealing with it."

I'd like to think your mom appreciated my answer. :-)

Good Luck ReWayne!
posted by NoraCharles at 2:56 PM on June 17, 2010

Thanks for the questions guys... The interview is next Wednesday, so any other questions would be much appreciated!
posted by ReWayne at 4:22 PM on June 17, 2010

If applicable, I'd look at the school's state testing data and see how they stack up. I'm not into teaching to the test at all, but you might be able to glean some answers from the state and/or district regarding their stance on testing.

I'd also be hip with "Race to the Top" and "No Child Left Behind"

good luck...let us know if you got the gig.
posted by bach at 4:49 PM on June 17, 2010

Oh... I forgot. Have some questions available to ask the interviewer.

Ask pertinent questions that they didn't offer as a part of the interview. Some principals leave key information out on purpose to see if the applicant is on their toes and paying attention during the interview.

Good luck!
posted by bach at 4:53 PM on June 17, 2010

Why did you did decide to become a teacher? Wrong answer: because I love kids. Think deeper than that. Was there a favorite teacher that influenced you? Was one of your parents a teacher? Are you passionate about your subject? Did you have an early experience working with children that made you decide that you were good at teaching or working with children? It's very trite to answer that you want to make a difference in the lives of kids, we all do or at least we should.

What lesson that you've taught was the most successful and why?

What was your most memorable teaching moment?

I have asked teachers to demonstrate a model lesson on a second interview.

At what point would you send a student to the office for discipline?

How do you decide what to teach in your classroom/in your course?

What are some of your preferred instructional strategies?

How do you prefer to arrange your classroom?

Hint: some of these last questions are designed to gain insight into your teaching style, whether or not you are in tune with the state standards, a traditionalist versus someone who uses more innovative teaching strategies, etc.
posted by tamitang at 5:11 PM on June 17, 2010

I also think they will ask you about your experiences with non-mainstream students: ESL, special needs, EBD.

And regarding ESL, they could ask specifically about Generation 1.5 students too. I got asked about strategies in that area in my most recent (successful) interview.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 6:59 PM on June 17, 2010

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