Interview Questions About Your Classroom Management Style
When you are applying for a teaching position, a typical job interview question is, "What type of classroom management structure would you implement if you were hired today?"
This question is one that is easier to answer with some teaching experience under your belt. That's because as a teacher, you've implemented classroom management every day that you've taught. If you’re just launching your career and looking for your first teaching job, you can use your knowledge of best practices and developmentally appropriate planning to discuss your classroom management approach.
Types of Classroom Management Styles
Most leading education organizations recommend some combination of assertiveness and flexibility in classroom management; this helps create a learning environment where the students feel respected by their teacher and, in turn, reciprocate that respect – ultimately reducing undesirable behaviors. Your strategy on classroom management might include both proactive and reactive strategies. Many teachers find that vigorously implementing proactive approaches reduces the need for reactive approaches.
Proactive Classroom Management
Proactive teachers create a feeling of community in the classroom by modeling and encouraging positive behaviors, creating opportunities for meaningful peer-to-peer or student-to-teacher interactions, and being aware of students who may need additional supports to help them through challenging times of the school day.
By creating a classroom environment where children feel motivated to engage in only positive behaviors, there will be less disruption and little need to execute reactive strategies.
Proactive approaches may include involving students in the creation of the classroom rules, or having students create and sign a learning contract at the beginning of the year.
Reactive Classroom Management
Some effective reactive strategies include pre-planning alternate activities for students who finish early and become bored, having a redirecting strategy to use with students to switch a bad behavior into a good one, and responding quickly to an upset child or mediating issues between two or more children so that any undesirable behaviors do not escalate.
Tips for Responding to Interview Questions
The interviewer may focus on your teaching philosophy, your use of different teaching modalities like visual, auditory, movement, etc., and your approach to classroom management. To ensure you give your best interview, think about and prepare your answers ahead of time.
If you have teaching experience, consider how you have implemented, reflected on, and adjusted your teaching practices to figure out what works and what doesn’t. If you’re at the beginning of your career, on the other hand, then think about the classrooms you worked in during your student teaching and refresh your knowledge of practices and theories you feel are important to consider when planning.
Define Your Personal Teaching Philosophy
You most likely thought long and hard about your philosophy as you completed your education degree in college or graduate school. Most programs ask students to include a typed version of their philosophy in a final project or portfolio as part of the culminating coursework for the college or university.
The interviewer will most likely want to hear about your teaching philosophy because it is your interpretation of what you think teaching and learning mean.
It will also include a brief description of how you teach and why. A part of your philosophy should address your approaches to classroom management, using examples of successful strategies you’d use at certain times of the day (like transitions between activities).
Learn About the School's Policies and Procedures
You should also take the time to become familiar with the various policies of the school district you are interviewing with regarding classroom management and discipline. While teachers often have the freedom to develop their own personal classroom management strategies, many school districts have clearly defined consequences regarding student infractions. A district may also have strong feelings about what type of negative consequences, if any, a teacher can use in their classroom.
You will find more and more schools are encouraging their teachers to use more strength-based approaches with their students.
If presented with this interview question, a well-informed, intelligent response will demonstrate your knowledge of the school’s (or district’s) disciplinary guidelines and how you plan to incorporate them into your own classroom management style.
If you are unable to find out much about the school’s disciplinary policy beforehand, be prepared to ask your interviewer how the administration supports teachers in regard to classroom management. By asking this question, you will gain insight into the school’s support system and whether your personal classroom management style aligns with their policies.
Share Examples With the Interviewer
The best way to illustrate your classroom management style is to describe specific examples from your past experience. Even if this interview is for your first teaching position, you probably have experience as a student teacher. Back up your examples by explaining how they are developmentally appropriate for the age group you will be teaching.
Show your interviewers that your approaches are well-thought-out, that you respect your students, and that you truly care about their social, emotional, and intellectual success in your classroom. Also, it’s fine to say you plan to follow your mentor teacher’s approach – as long as you truly agree with the theories used to create it.
When you give personal examples of one of your methods, be sure to describe specifically how the approach has worked well for you. Here are a few examples:
- In my third grade classroom, we created a classroom rules poster together. When it was complete, the whole class brainstormed ideas for a title. The winning title was, “Cool Rules for Cool Kids;” they all signed the bottom of the poster and we hung it in our room.
- I feel children should be moving, so we have “Stop, Drop, and Dance” sessions throughout the day. Movement can wake up a child’s brain, it reduces fidgeting and other distracting behaviors that come from asking a child to sit still all day, and it is a way to work through difficult situations – often I will “dance it out” with a student who is upset about something. Dancing to upbeat music just makes everyone happy!
- In my first grade classroom, I implemented a system whereby the students were each given a clip on a chart. For each infraction, the students would move their clip through a progression of colors. The disciplines ranged from a yellow warning, to losing half of their recess, to losing all of their recess, to a red warning which meant a phone call home. Using this simple and effective color-coded approach, I made very few phone calls.
Review More Interview Questions
When you're interviewing for teaching jobs, you'll also be asked about why you decided to become a teacher, your teaching philosophy, the experience you have with technology, and job-specific questions related to the position for which you're applying. Before you head out to an interview, review the questions you will most likely be asked and tips for responding.