It will be here before you know it...interviewing season. Ok, so this was updated and now there are over 21 questions, but it still works. For many interviews, there are the standard questions and expectations like “please list your strengths and your weaknesses” and “ Tell us about you…” Although it is important to know what a potential teacher feels about themselves, those are not the bits of information that stand out to every interviewer. Special education teacher interview questions may be different from a general education set of interview questions. Here are some things they may want to know if you are trying to land a position in an autism classroom or a special education classroom:
What do you know about setting up the classroom for students with autism?
How is that classroom going to look different from a typical classroom?
What supports are you going to have a place in that classroom?
What materials are you going to have in the classroom?
How will the staff members be utilized in that classroom?
What methods do you plan to use to teach social skills to students who need help in that area? (Here is a link to our social skills page for some ideas.)
Those are some of the things that really pinpoint if somebody has an idea of how to organize their classroom. Even if they have not yet had their own classroom, it is nice to find out if they have a sense of how they're going to make that happen. Additionally those interviewing you may like to know a few other important items like:
Are you familiar with an I.E.P.?
Do you know the I.E.P. process?
How you work with others?
Are you able to provide a leadership role in the classroom? What ways do you use leadership skills when working with a team? What is your leadership style?
How are you at directing other people?
Are you able to give clear instructions related to what needs to happen for the students?
Are you able to work with other people and take constructive criticism if something needs to be changed?
Most importantly, they may want to know:
How do you deal with disruptive behaviors that may be displayed by students with autism in the classroom? (Which may look different from disruptions in a typical classroom.)
What preventative strategies will you use?
Do you know the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis?
If you do not (which many people don’t), do you know at least a little bit about it?
Can you discuss the link between reinforcement and behavior?
What do you know about planned ignoring or this concept under whatever name is it called?
How do you use preventative materials & supports so that the behaviors don't occur? (Here is a link to our behavior support page for ideas.)
If you are hired, you may notice that you may be called on to be knowledgeable about behavior supports. So, it won't hurt to start learning some of those principles of applied behavior analysis so that you can respond to behaviors in a systematic way and not just act on a whim. So, that brings to mind:
Are you someone who knows how to de-escalate situations?
Do you know some key strategies to de-escalate the situation with a child with autism?
What if the child is non-verbal? What methods would you use?
So, even if these questions are not asked directly, somewhere in the interview process these questions need to be addressed. In this day and age, you will need to have some background in the Common Core State Standards and how that Common Core can be linked or aligned to your classroom programming.
Where will standards fit in?
How do the standards fit in?
How do the student’s individual needs get balanced in with the structure of the Common Core?
That is about all I can think of for now. Even if these questions do not come up in your special education interview questions, they are critical to think about before taking your first step into the classroom. If you need some ideas to help with the questions asked, check out the free Teacher as a Leader Series from Autism Classroom. Good Luck!