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Substitute Teacher Interview Questions

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  1. As a substitute teacher, you will encounter students who have diverse learning needs. Can you give me one strategy that you use when teaching these students? See answer
  2. Effective communication can be a key part of success for a substitute teacher. What are some methods that you use here? See answer
  3. How do you analyze the lesson plans from the main teacher on short notice? See answer
  4. Have you ever worked with or developed individual education plans? Can you tell me a bit about your experience with them? See answer
  5. We like to follow the Balanced Literacy approach in some of the classes here. What do you know about this methodology and how it works? See answer
  6. A good substitute teacher should know how to access essential information and prepare a lesson even if the teacher left on short notice and did not have any information prepared. This question addresses a substitute’s understanding of school systems and what information they need to gather to be successful. It also targets the candidate’s ability to make decisions quickly, solve problems and adapt to a challenging situation.
  7. How do you establish trust and authority with new students in a short time frame?
  8. What behavior management techniques do you implement when teaching a lesson?
  9. Are you able to teach subjects that you’re not familiar with? How do you handle teaching unfamiliar content?
  10. How do you track student behavior and progress to update the main teacher when they return?
  11. Have you ever subbed for classes with special needs students?
  12. What is an IEP?
  13. What would you do if you noticed a student who you had never met before crying in class?
  14. What is your process for taking attendance with a new group of students without disrupting class?
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6 Substitute Teacher Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

As a substitute teacher, you will encounter students who have diverse learning needs. Can you give me one strategy that you use when teaching these students?

A:

Students at your school will have a variety of ways they learn. Some methods may work better for individual kids than others. You will want a potential substitute teacher who knows about the main ways the students learn and how to cater to them. Use this question to get an idea of the basic knowledge your interviewee has and how well they can adapt.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of learning styles
  • How to implement different teaching methods
  • Adaptability to curriculum

Example:

“A few of the main ways students learn are kinesthetic, visual and auditory. Using just a few questions, I can gauge these methods in my students and group them by the type of instruction that is easiest for them.”

Q:

Effective communication can be a key part of success for a substitute teacher. What are some methods that you use here?

A:

Substitute teachers need to be able to stay in touch with the teachers for whom they are filling in, students’ parents and administrators at the school. You can use this question to determine the potential candidate’s communicative abilities as well as their organizational skills.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Quick adaptation when necessary
  • Ability to review older material

Example:

“I always start by memorizing the contact information for the main teacher. If they will be totally unavailable, I will make sure I can clarify anything in the lesson plan with students or the administrators at the school. I ask questions to gauge student learning and review lessons as necessary.”

Q:

How do you analyze the lesson plans from the main teacher on short notice?

A:

Substitute teachers might be called to your school on same-day short notice to fill in for the regular educator. You will want a candidate who is able to show up and read an existing lesson plan quickly. Use this question to determine the potential hire’s critical thinking or problem-solving skills and how well they absorb and disseminate information.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Able to adapt to a variety of situations quickly
  • Can supervise test as needed
  • Understands students’ current knowledge base

Example:

“When I arrive at school, I pick up any lesson plans the main teacher has left for me. Going through them, I figure out what the curriculum for the day is and where the students are in their learning. I can read and comprehend a variety of subjects.”

Q:

Have you ever worked with or developed individual education plans? Can you tell me a bit about your experience with them?

A:

IEPs can be an important part of the curriculum for individual students a substitute teacher might encounter. Ideally, you want a potential hire who at least knows what these plans are and how to read or implement them. The interviewee should be able to give you a basic definition and reassurances that they understand how to cater to the needs of students with special requirements.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Understanding of IEPs
  • How to read or implement these plans
  • Ideas for incorporating IEPs into existing materials

Example:

“Individual education plans help teachers accommodate learners who have special needs or absorb materials in different ways. I have worked for five years with children who have IEPs and recognized their disabilities and goals while helping them learn the existing coursework.”

Q:

We like to follow the Balanced Literacy approach in some of the classes here. What do you know about this methodology and how it works?

A:

Being able to adopt the Balanced Literacy approach to reading can be an essential part of a substitute teacher’s job, especially if they will be dealing with younger students. Most potential substitute teachers should have at least a basic understanding of these methods and be able to explain them to you even if they are not formally trained in literary methods.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Basic explanations of the Balanced Literacy style
  • How one might incorporate it into classes
  • Keen analytical thinking skills

Example:

“The Balanced Literacy method seeks to teach both phonics and what we call whole language. Members of my class who are auditory learners will probably do well with the former. The more tactile or visual students will probably see some success with whole language.”

Q:

A good substitute teacher should know how to access essential information and prepare a lesson even if the teacher left on short notice and did not have any information prepared. This question addresses a substitute's understanding of school systems and what information they need to gather to be successful. It also targets the candidate's ability to make decisions quickly, solve problems and adapt to a challenging situation.

A:

A good answer should include:

  • Focus on students' needs
  • Willingness to ask for help
  • Knowledge of school procedures

Here is one example of an excellent answer that targets all of the key points of the question:

Example:

"I understand that teachers can't always anticipate when they will be absent, so I never count on having a sub binder to teach a successful lesson. My first step would be to log into the school system and access my class roster and schedule. Then I would talk to the school nurse to find out if I had any students with disabilities or medical needs. I would touch base with other teachers in that grade or subject and use their input to create relevant educational activities for the students."

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