Teachers! Advice for private school interviews?
March 10, 2015 9:25 PM   Subscribe

I have been invited to interview for full time teaching positions at several private (mostly Catholic) schools, in a few different states. I have substantial experience teaching in many diverse capacities in public schools, but no private. I've never attended a private school either. If you teach or have interviewed at a private school, what advice can you give?

I'm very familiar with common core standards and curriculum, but obviously the academic environments are quite different in each private school, so I expect the questions to be significantly different.

The more experience I accrue, the more disillusioned I've become with public schooling. The politics are insipid and nasty, most of the schools I've taught at were very poorly maintained, many of the students come from horrifically broken homes, many of the parents I've encountered are frankly psychotic in the worst possible sense and put no investment in their children's education or general well-being. The performance of teachers and students are increasingly evaluated by the results of poorly designed standardized tests.

I know that the salary is usually even less than that of public school teachers, but obviously very few teachers choose their occupation for the money. I did not major in education, I have worked in jobs ranging from chemistry to IT and have received job offers for healthcare consultant positions that would land me six figures. I don't care. I love teaching, I consider it one of the noblest professions and I can think of few things I would rather do than live the rest of my life as a teacher.

Though I am not devoutly religious, I was raised Catholic and have a deep understanding of Catholic theology and the history of the Church. I harbor no small degree of resentment toward the actions of church leaders, but I consider them Catholic in the same way that I consider ISIL Islamic. I am comfortable incorporating the basic ethics and values of Catholicism in the classroom. I am comfortable with any religious educational institution that fully excepts evolution and denies creationism. Nothing in biology makes no sense except in the light of evolution.

What are some of the best ways to approach interviewing for private religious institutions? Any non-obvious major Dos and Don'ts? The places I am interviewing for range from quaint rural 80 student schools to one of the richest and most highly ranked schools in the country. The positions range from 3rd grade to 12th and are mostly but not all science-related.
posted by WhitenoisE to Education (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I once got a job teaching at a private school based on no experience or training related to teaching K-12. I think you should stick to talking about concrete, positive things you've done and focus on topics where you feel happy and well-composed. I imagine you have plenty of things to talk about like that. I get that you're wondering about all sorts of hypothetical topics, but I think they're leading you to envision matters that either aren't particularly relevant or that you should let people imagine for themselves. If by chance some question leads you into territory where you feel like stating some generalization or broad judgment may be called for, I think you should just say something mild/reassuring and quickly get back into talking about concrete (positive! agreeable!) facts about your experience. Show rather than tell what you're about, etc.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:23 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

A handy "trick" I've discovered that is often useful when talking to Catholics: start a conversation about Pope Francis, something unbiased just to get them talking ("I heard that Pope Francis has told God that he is okay about being assassinated - but he hopes that if it happens, it is painless, because he's a real wimp about pain") and then listen to what they have to say. You can tell a lot about a person by how they talk about Pope Francis.

(Yes, I'm Catholic).
posted by doctor tough love at 5:11 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Haha, I agree with you regarding the Pope Francis litmus test, but I have a Class A unrestricted firearms license so I'm a bit afraid of using that particular line ;)

Also I realize I made two successive embarrassingly obvious grammatical errors in one paragraph....next time I should probably finish editing my post before the benadryl kicks in...
posted by WhitenoisE at 5:17 AM on March 11, 2015

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