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mrteacherguy 04-23-2020 05:43 PM

Interview Question
I recently had an interview that I thought went well, but was not selected for the position (even though the principal admitted they were still looking at other candidates).

I asked the principal for feedback, and he said that one of the red flags for them was when they asked me how many failing students I believe is acceptable. I said that, ideally, zero students should be failing. That we as teachers should do what we can to help our students succeed, but that in reality there will be a handful who choose to fail by not doing the work.

I may not have been quite as clear in my response at the time, but he in his feedback he said that time shouldn't be an issue when it comes students who struggle.

Personally I completely agree, and I stand by my view that ideally that all students should succeed. But realistically, there will be students that make the choice to not complete work. As a middle school teacher I've encountered more than a handful of students that fail multiple or all of their core classes, despite the the interventions and efforts that their teachers (and even parents) put into place. Much like the proverbial horse being led to water, despite our best intentions we can't force a student to succeed, there needs to be at least some effort on their part.


GraceKrispy 04-23-2020 06:00 PM

Hmm. I don't know what you mean by his comment about "time" (I don't see time as a factor in your response?), but I would interpret your response as more of a "can lead a horse to water but can't make him drink" or "I wash my hands of kids who don't put the effort in" type of response. While it's true that you can't force kids to pass, administrators might be interested in hearing more about what you would do (or have done) specifically to help students who are resistant to doing work. Your answer, if you really said what you wrote, can be interpreted as you being someone who isn't going to put much effort into helping struggling students because you feel it's just natural that some will fail. I think focusing on what you'd do to prevent it (without saying that it's inevitable that some will fail) would be a more positive response. We all know some will fail. It happens. But when you say that straight in the interview, your response is probably a lot less positive than other applicants.

*I didn't read as closely your last paragraph before I wrote this post- I see you mention the horse/water analogy, too :D

mrteacherguy 04-23-2020 07:28 PM

In my response I just said that ideally there shouldn't be any students that fail, but that in reality there will probably be a few that end up failing.

In hindsight, I think the biggest problem was that I didn't really elaborate on that, on explaining why I feel that it's not realistic to expect a 100% pass rate. I don't know of a more detailed explanation on that would have made a difference, but at least it would have made it clear that I wasn't saying that I would give up on struggling students.

My approach has always been that if a student is willing to try, I'll do what I can to help them. But that if a student won't put in the effort, I can't force them to learn or care, but that I'll be there for them when they make the choice to try.

GreyhoundGirl 04-23-2020 08:22 PM

I completely, 100% agree with that and I probably would have said the same thing. I refuse to work harder than the kids.

Truthfully, the fact that they consider that a red flag is a red flag to me. That tells me that no matter what happens with the kid (academically or behaviorally), itís going to be your fault. I think you may have dodged a big bullet.

GraceKrispy 04-24-2020 10:40 AM


at least it would have made it clear that I wasn't saying that I would give up on struggling students.
Yes, I think that may have made a difference (and what my long-winded post was trying to say :p). You never know what people are truly looking for, of course. I think it's important to be honest, but also to address the positive side of things (especially in an interview). Good luck with your next interview!

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