Standing somewhere between elementary and high school, students can choose some subjects while studying in the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and sometimes even the 9th grade, a period which is classified as Middle School. But what does it change for you in a job interview, if anything?
First of all, we talk about children aged from eleven to sixteen, which happen to be the most problematic teenage years. Students often struggle with discipline at middle school, and they often experience emotional and mental difficulties, trying to cope with the hormonal changes that take place in their bodies, and material changes that take place in their life. Generally speaking, teaching 7th graders is definitely more challenging than teaching 3rd graders.
On the other hand, teaching is teaching. Most of the questions in your interview will be the same, doesn’t matter if you apply at elementary, middle, or high school. And a good answer in one case will work also in another one. There are just slight differences, and we try to refer to them in this article. Let’s have a look at the questions.
Why middle school? Why not elementary or high school?
You have a few options to explain your choice. You can say that you enjoy working with this particular age group, that you understand their world and challenges they experience, and therefor you prefer to work with them, and not with younger or older students.
Another alternative is to say that you like to focus on your main subject (Math, Physics, History, anything), and believe that the value you can convey to the students in the lessons is higher at Middle School, since students choose their subjects, and the classes are typically smaller in size, which allows for a more individual approach to the students.
The last alternative (and often the genuine one) is saying that you do not care much about the grade level, but that you wanted to work for their school, and since they advertised this particular vacancy, you applied. And here you are in the interview…
What teaching methods do you prefer with middle school students and why?
Expectations are higher, and the discipline tend to be lower. Traditional lecturing won’t make much impression on a typical 8th grader. Tell the hiring committee that you prefer more student-oriented teaching methods, such as game-base learning, discussion, inviting guests to talk in the classroom, inquiry based learning, etc.
The key is to demonstrate your willingness to step out of your comfort zone for the students, in order to maximize the potential of your lessons. Another alternative is saying that you are skilled in a variety of teaching methods, and prefer individual approach to each class. Sure enough, you may face different expectations and levels of discipline in different classrooms, and logically you will adjust your teaching method accordingly.
What are the challenges middle school teachers experience in the classroom?
Problems with discipline, little interest in study, social media addictions, inability to motivate the students, and changing moods of the students, are just of the few challenges that prevail in typical classroom at a middle school. Feel free to add more challenges, based on your experience and observations, or the problems you are aware they are facing at the particular school (you’ve learned about them doing your research).
One important thing to remember: Do not get discouraged by the challenges. Teaching is not an easy job, but your goal is to try to convince the hiring committee that you are ready to try your best, and address the challenges with smile, though your efforts may end up in vain, and some students may still fail to improve on their grades. But you take it as it is, and focus on things you have under your control–trying to make a good connection with the students, deliver the lesson in an engaging way, and applying individual approach in the classes.
What are current trends in Mathematics (Physics, Chemistry, Literature, History)?
Teaching at the Middle School, you will typically specialize only in one or two subjects. Try to show the interviewers that you keep your knowledge up to date, and that you actually still enjoy your field, and do not teach it only because you have the required qualification.
Check the latest trends, read something about teaching methods, and get ready for this question. You can even tell them that you attend conferences and events for teachers, to stay on the top of your game. Maybe you attended just one conference, and it happened five years ago. Nevertheless, you can still mention that you go to conferences, read trade magazines, follow leading figures from the field, and so on.
Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
The most important thing is to connect your future with their school. Maybe you hope to become a head of a department, or even an assistant principal, and it is okay to show such an ambition, as long as you ensure them that you want to pursue your goals within their school district.
Another alternative is saying that in the uncertain world we live in right now, with the pandemic, economic crisis, and everything else in question, you prefer to not think too much ahead. You want to teach, you consider it your personal mission and goal, but where exactly you will teach, and what will happen in five years, is really a mystery. Not only for you, for everyone…
Other questions you may face in your middle school teacher interview
- Why do you want to work as a teacher? Why did you decide for this career?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How do you plan to gain trust of the students?
- Tell us about a time when you demonstrated leadership in a classroom.
- What are your expectations on the principal, and other people you will cooperate with at school?
- What do you enjoy to do in your spare time?
- Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know.
- In your opinion, what is most difficult about teaching?
- Imagine that one of the students falls in love with you, and starts sending you messages. You find them quite attractive. What will you do in this delicate situation?
Interview for a middle school teacher job belongs to interviews with an easy difficulty. You can expect what questions they will ask you, and as long as you meet the educational requirements, and make a decent impression on the hiring committee, they will typically give you a chance.
Do not forget to do your research, and learn as much as you can about your future place of work, and also about the leading figures, especially the principal, since you can definitely meet them in the interviews. Try to prepare a short answer to each question on the list as well, and do not forget to check also the following posts:
- How to overcome interview nerves – Simple guide on how to beat interview anxiety and show your very best on the big day.
- Elementary teacher interview questions – General questions for any teaching interview, you can face most of them in your meeting with the hiring committee.
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to get as much as you deserve once you discuss money with your future employer.