Easter Egg Hunts for Reading and Math Review!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Every spring, I LOVE having an egg hunt with my students! March and April are the PERFECT months for reviewing standards, and having an egg hunt is a super fun way to do it! My students have so much fun searching around the classroom (or even the playground) for eggs. They also earn some awesome treats!  But why stop at just Easter?  You can have fun ALL YEAR LONG with my new Dinosaur Egg Hunt and Spring Bird Egg Hunt, too!

Easter Egg Hunt

Dinosaur Egg Hunt

Spring Birds Egg Hunt

{Click on the photos to be taken to my TpT store!}
More themes and grade levels will be added to my store, too! Be sure to follow here!

This is a minimal-prep activity, and is super easy to set up! Cut the pages apart, and place one slip inside of each egg. Have fun hiding them around your classroom or on the playground! It is also VERY easy to differentiate! Simply give each leveled group of students their own color of eggs!

Here’s the catch: They MUST answer the question inside correctly to earn their prizes!

I send each student off with a paper bag or basket to collect their eggs. I wait in an area for students to line up with their eggs. The prizes stay with me, and I pass them out as the students answer their questions. It is really helpful if you have parent volunteers or older students to help out! You can even use the buddy system with another teacher and have two classes participate! But, this is totally do-able on your own! Students are only allowed to bring me one egg at a time, and they have to answer quickly! Then, they stick their prize in their bag and hide the egg right back where they found it, so the next student can have a turn! I only use about twice the number of eggs as the number of students I have in my class. I have given you TONS of options, depending on what your kids are working on right now!

Optional Prizes: Jellybeans, small candies, small erasers, prize passes, stickers…you name it!

☆ Black and white options for every page!

(The only page you need to print in color is the one for recognizing colors.)

☆ Teacher/Helper directions on every page!

☆ British, Australian, and Canadian spellings available!!!

Topics Included:

• Colors and color words

• 2-D and 3-D shapes (available in color and black/white)

• Letter Names and Letter Sounds (both uppercase and lowercase)

• Number recognition (numbers to 30, counting by 10’s to 100, and blank pages to write in your own!)

• Counting from 0 – 10 (color and black/white)

• Counting ten frames from 0 – 10

• Addition facts from 0 - 10

• Subtraction facts from 0 – 10

• Dolch Sight Words (Pre-Primer, Primer, and First Grade)

• Fry Words (First 100 Words)

• Reading CVC, CCVC, and CVCC words (plus a page to write your own words!)

• Spelling CVC Words (plus a page to write your own spelling words!)

• Beginning, Middle, and Ending Sounds (with pictures – color or b/w, or just words for teacher to read aloud)

• Silly tasks - just for fun!

• “Freebie” passes – just for fun!

I hope you and your students love these as much as I do!  More themes, standards, and grade levels will be added to my store - so be sure to follow Glitter is Everywhere on TpT!

Happy Teaching!

Back to School Gifts for Students {Distance Learning and Every Year!}

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Hi Friends!

Do you love Back to School season as much as I do???  I love meeting my new students and getting to know them the first few weeks of school!  I'm always amazed at how different each class is every year, and each group of students has its own personality!  

One of my FAVORITE things to do at the beginning of the year is to make connections with my students and to show them that we are a family.  Our classroom becomes like a second home for all of us, and I LOVE knowing that my students feel welcome, loved, and valued.  

This year, I've had to start the year making connections through a computer screen, like so many of you.  All summer, I worried about what the first weeks of school would look like.  When I first began Distance Learning back in March, I found that it was {kind of, almost, sort of} a cool experience to learn about my students on a different level through our screens.  I was able to get a small glimpse into their lives that I would never have had in the classroom, and I was able to get a lot more one-on-one time with them, as well!  Some of my students who were more shy in the classroom opened up and let their personalities shine, and it was amazing!  Plus, I got to see all of their cool toys.  

But still...the thought of starting the year with Distance Learning and a group of students who didn't know me was a whooooole different story.  I worried that they wouldn't be able to connect with me, or that I wouldn't be able to help them feel that sense of family.  I worried that I would feel like some stranger on the screen.  Does that sound familiar to any of you?  And then, on the first day of school, I learned that I worried for nothing!  I was beyond surprised at how amazing they have done!  We've found ways to have fun and my students are engaged, and I've gotten to know them in different ways than I would in the classroom!  Kids are incredible human beings, and I love this little family to pieces!  

One of the ways I've helped my students to feel that connection happened even before the first day of school!  I love giving my students a welcome back to school gift on the first day of school, which helps them to calm their fears a little and show them how much I care even before we start the year together.  Luckily, my school gave families the option to pick up student materials the week before school started, and I had the chance to sneak a little welcome gift in with their math textbooks and devices. 

I try to change their gifts up every year {to make life interesting for me, tbh}, but this year I tried something new that I will NEVER give up.  I wrote a special poem for my students and added in bracelets that everyone would wear together to feel connected, and each bracelet came with it's own special "I am" affirmation statement that the students would say when they put them on.  {They say things like "I am smart", "I am important", "I am valued", etc.}.  It was a HUGE hit for my class, and they get SOOOO excited when they see me or others wearing the same bracelets they have on.  I also ask them often to choose an affirmation to share with the class, either as our attendance check-in question or as they leave meetings.  This was such an easy, simple gift that brought us together and we will continue to use throughout the year!  And now, I'm sharing it with you!

Click on any picture below to find the poem in my TpT store!  {Check below for the bracelets that I used!} This year's poem has more to do with starting the year apart, but I also added another poem that I wrote for any year that we start in person, too!  Each poem has variations for giving your students just one or many bracelets, and they can even be used with bracelets that have beads or charms, if you want the beads or charms to represent something special!  The affirmations are completely editable, too!  


What bracelets do I use?  Click on the pics below to be taken to my FAVORITE cute and inexpensive bracelets from Amazon!  

{Some links may be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  The small amount that I earn helps to support this blog and my TpT product creation. Thank you!}

I want to wish all of you a happy new school year, and I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy!  

Happy Teaching!

ONE and DONE Kindergarten Homework or Morning Work! {Editable and Reusable for the WHOLE YEAR!}

Saturday, July 23, 2016

{Click to find in my TpT store!}

Hi friends!

I am so excited to share with you my newest product on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Are you interested in changing up your homework this year?  I have created this homework set for teachers who never seem to have enough time…or paper!  Simply set up your homework folders once, and most of the work is done for you…for the whole year!  I don’t know about your school or district, but my school loves it when we step away from the traditional weekly packets and add more meaningful and engaging activities.  I love this homework set, because it makes it so easy for me and my team, and the kids love it, too!

These pages are so versatile, you can use them as homework, morning work, extra practice, or work for early finishers!  While you can certainly use these pages as standard worksheets, each page is intended to be placed in a sheet protector.  Students should write directly on the sheet protector with a whiteboard marker.  When they erase their writing…it’s as good as new!

The best part about this set is that it is SUPER flexible and customizable to fit your needs!  It is SO EASY to differentiate, too!  Students work at their own individual pace and keep the pages for as long as you would like them to!  I’ve also included a nice variety of activities that include flash cards, flash card games, and fun family activities!

On each student page, there are parent instructions, as well as more challenging extension activities for when they are ready to move on.  Some students may need to practice one skill for a week or even a month, but they have the option to do activities that become increasingly more difficult…all while using the same page!

If you were already planning to give your students a homework folder or binder, these pages will fit in perfectly!  Here are some of the suggested materials to use with this set that will make your life easier:

- Binders or folders
(My favorites can be found here and here)
- Sheet protectors
(My absolute favorites by can be found here)
- Whiteboard markers 
(I love these ones found here!)
- Card Stock (for flash cards – I love these sturdy ones from Astrobrights, which can be found here!)
- Avery Labels 5263
(My favorite label size can be found here!  They are great for everything!)

I love to add in some fun extras, as well!
- Cute, colorful, sturdy, and CHEAP pencil pouches – I use them for everything!  I love these by Bazic.  They come in both bright and primary colors, and can be found here!) 
- Colorful paper for differentiating pages and especially sight word lists!  (Who doesn’t love Astrobrights???)
- Cute pencils, wands, googly eye rings, or spooky Halloween fingers to be used as pointers
- Felt cut into smaller squares (to be used as erasers!  They work amazingly well!)
{Disclaimer: Some of the above links are Amazon affiliate links.}

Please note that these homework pages are just a “snapshot” of what many teachers feel are the main foundational kindergarten skills for the beginning to the middle of the year, with some extension and challenge activities thrown in.  This does not include all Common Core standards for kindergarten, only the most essential! 

There are so many options available in this set!  Many of the pages are editable to fit your needs and NONE of these pages need to be printed in color.  There are black/white and color versions of every page with illustrations. 

Here’s what’s included:

Parent Letter Template - includes my example

Monthly Signature Page - Parents just need to sign and date before you want your homework due each week, and the page has signature lines for one whole month.  This also includes a section for writing in comments.

Reading Logs – Your students just need to color in one picture every night that they read with their families!  I’ve included one that is generic to be used all year, and several cute monthly logs! (Apples for August or September, pencils for September, pumpkins for October, leaves for November, gingerbread men for December, snowflakes for January, hearts for February, shamrocks for March, raindrops for April, flowers for May, suns for June, and stars for July)

Extra Activities Page – I’ve come up with several additional reading and math activities for your kids to do with their families, but there is a fully editable option if you’d like to add in your own!  These get them moving around outside and searching around their house for everyday things that can help them with practical applications of the standards!  There is also an option for you to add in website or app login information!

Binder Covers or Labels for Folders – Includes covers/labels for Homework or Morning Work, and labels for the inside of their binders/folders (Keep at home/Return to school if you’re using it for homework, Finished/Not Finished/Still Working/All Done labels if you’re using it for Morning Work).  ALL of these are available in either color or black and white!

Student Pages – These cover both ELA and math standards.  The activities included are:

Name, Alphabet, and Number Tracing
(The name page is editable – I’ve included a list of recommended fonts if you need a tracing font!)

Alphabet Practice
Students practice letter recognition, as well as letter sounds.  These include uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and mixed up letters.  I’ve also included the “fancy a” and “fancy g”!  I’ve added a picture page with illustrations for each beginning consonant sound.  There are two versions – one that correlates with Zoo Phonics and another that is more generic (A – apple, B – ball, C – cake, etc.)

Reading and Writing
Both Dolch (Pre-Primer/Primer) and Fry (1-100) lists are included.  You can give your students only the lists that they need to practice.  I’ve also included an editable page if you’d like to add your own words!  The writing page includes a space for drawing a picture and one line underneath to write a word or sentence.  There is also a Book Report page where they can draw/write about the characters, setting, and their favorite part.

Math Activities
Students can practice reading numbers to 30, counting to 100 by 1’s and 10’s, recognizing Ten Frames to 10 and Tally Marks to 20, and practice writing their own Ten Frames and Tally Marks.

Shapes and Colors
Students can practice recognizing colors and color words, as well as 2-D and 3-D shapes and words.  These pages are in color and black/white.  On the black/white pages, you or your students can color the page in with crayons/markers, and then use it for practice!

Flash Cards
I’ve included a list of games and activities that you can give to families.  There is also a blank editable page for you to add in your own words or pictures!

The flash cards include:
Uppercase letters
Lowercase letters
Sight Words – Dolch (Pre-Primer/Primer) Fry (1-100)
Numbers to 30
Number words to 20
Color words
2-D shapes
3-D shapes
Shape words
Addition facts with sums up to 5
Subtraction facts with differences from 0-5 (the minuend does not go higher than 5)

Here are some more product photos of my favorite features:

Thank you so much for reading, and I’m hoping you’ll find this homework set as helpful as I have!

Click on the picture below to purchase!

Happy Teaching!

Avery Label Template Hack for PowerPoint!

Thursday, July 14, 2016
Hi friends!

Have you ever wanted to create super cute labels in PowerPoint, but aren’t able to find a template?  EVERY SINGLE TIME I search for Avery label templates, they only work in a Word document or in programs I don’t have on my computer.  I haven’t even used Word in about 3 years!  Moving clip art takes about four and a half hours.  Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

So I have absolutely no idea if this has been talked about before, but just this morning, I figured out a {relatively easy} way to make my own templates in PowerPoint!  This happened while I was in the shower, where I seem to do my best thinking.  {Am I the only one?}  And then I got really excited to label stuff.  

Here we go!

Step 1: We can have lots of fun.  {J/K.  If you know what I'm referencing here, we NEED to be besties. #stepbystep}

Step 2: Scan a blank copy of the labels you want to use.  This will work with any type of label!  Then, save the scan as a JPEG or PNG, and send to your computer.

Step 3: Open PowerPoint, and make sure your page is set to a height of 11 inches and width of 8.5 inches {standard paper size}.  Set the orientation to portrait.  {If PowerPoint gives you the message that it wants to “fix” the new size because it doesn't fit into the printable area of the paper, just click “OK”. If you click "Fix, the dimensions might change.}

Step 4: Insert the JPEG or PNG of your scan on the slide, and make sure to align the label page EXACTLY with your slide dimensions.  Check to see if there is extra space around the image that was added when you scanned it.  My HP scanner adds a little bit of extra white space at the bottom after it scans everything, so I have to make sure to pull the bottom of the picture down a little bit once I add it to the slide.  I always make sure to line up just the label page exactly with the bottom of my slide.  I can still see the white space on my screen, but it won't be printed if it's not on the slide.  You can also edit the picture beforehand to cut out any extra space your scanner may have added around the edges.  Once you have it sized correctly, it might be a little hard to see the lines of the labels, but if you zoom in on your slide, it will be easier!

Step 5: Create a table and place it over your scanned image.  Make sure the table cells line up with each label the best that you can.  On the 5163 label I used, there is a blank space in between the two columns.  I had to create two identical tables and line them up with each column.  You can add individual text boxes instead of a table.  Or, if your labels are a different shape {like circles}, just add a circle shape over each original label!

Step 6: Edit your table {or shapes} to get rid of the outside lines.  If you do this on a table, you’ll still be able to see a very faint gray line where the table cells are, but those lines won't print.  

Step 7: Create your awesome labels!

Step 8:  Click on the scanned label image on your slide, and DELETE it.  Now, you'll just see your awesome labels.  

Step 9: Now, you can print!  Here’s where it might get tricky, because it's not a completely foolproof method.  Print a test page in either grayscale or b/w, or try printing onto regular paper first.  This way, you won’t waste a ton of labels.  That happened to me today!  I ALWAYS have problems with alignment when I print labels, even with those darn Word templates.  You might have to tweak the tables or shapes you made, or move them around a little bit after you test print, especially if you’re a perfectionist like I am.  {The black Homework line at the top was KILLING me today when I tried to print!  At first, it was just a line at the top, but it wasn't fully lining up with the edge of the labels.  So I just decided to add another black line at the bottom, too, so that I wouldn't have to worry about any annoying blank spaces}.  

If you are able to print PowerPoint slides without any sizing problems, that’s awesome!  I’m jealous.  I have a few tips, but your computer and printer might function differently than mine or have different standard settings.  Sometimes, my printer likes to leave a white border around the edges, which makes everything shrink just a little bit when it is printed.  Super annoying.  I can get around that by choosing an option called Custom Borderless printing.  I always make sure to either choose that, or to manually make the margins 0” on every side, so that there isn’t white space around the edges. And make sure you don't choose the “Shrink to Fit” option, because that does the same thing!  I’ve tried printing to a PDF document, and then printing from there, which also works {as long as I use Custom Borderless there, too}.  I’m not the greatest with solving these technical issues, but I just try to figure it out through trial and error and it usually works!

Remember to save your PPT file, so you can use this template again!  

I hope this helps!  If you have any additional tips, leave them in the comments below!


P.S. If you love these labels, stay tuned for my next blog post about how I'm doing my kindergarten homework this year!  It's gonna be a game changer for me!

Calm Your Interview Jitters!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happy Teacher Interview Season! {Party hats, cake, and wine are definitely in order here, right???}

I’ve read a lot of awesome interview posts out there.  One of my friends, Kristen, from Easy Teaching Tools, has an amazing post you can and SHOULD read here. 

I’m going to write about something I don’t see very often.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the best at interviews.  You know those people who are really smart, but are terrible test-takers?  That’s exactly how I am with interviews.  I know I’m a great teacher who has a lot to offer {just like you!}, but interviews are not my best moments.  Some people rock every single interview and get multiple job offers at once.  I envy them!  So if you’re anything like me, I hope this post will give you some tips that may help. 

Be prepared.  This is often the hardest part!  You never know what to expect during an interview.  Even if you are months ahead of looking for a new job, you can never start too early.  Start researching common questions online.  What helped me more than ANYTHING else was to find the most common questions and then type my answers out in paragraph form.  I feel like I am much more articulate on paper than in person, and it really helped to have something to practice and memorize.  Write out bullet points to study the day of your interview to condense everything.  That also really helped me to keep track of the most important things I wanted to say.

Do some trial interviews.  If you have a trusted friend or family member, ask them to do a mock interview with you.  I even know some people who have “over applied” to many districts, even some they didn’t particularly have an interest in, just to get more interview experience.

Study current education buzzwords.  Even though I’ve been out of a university setting for a while, I always try to stay current and on top of my own professional development.  Believe it or not, even Instagram has been so helpful!  I never would have known about Lucy Calkins had it not been for IG, because people were singing her praises all over the place.  Principals who knew that I received my credential years ago have been impressed with my knowledge about what is current in the teaching world.

Talk to your friends in the district, or your teacher friends online.  Teachers are friendly and helpful!  Ask anyone who may have interviewed recently to find out what kind of questions districts are asking out there.  I always check with people who are interviewing so that I can figure out what districts find relevant, and to learn any new buzzwords.  Even when I’m not interviewing!  Check out my “The Questions” section below for tons of sample questions and ideas of what else you might expect to do during your interview. 

Start strong and end strong.  First impressions really matter!  If you start off strong with the first question, it will set the tone for the entire interview.  They will almost always ask you to talk about your education and experience first.  Make sure you have your facts memorized, and also feel confident with talking about your background.  One thing I like to do when I answer this question is to quickly make sure I mention one thing that I learned or gained from working at that particular school/district before moving on to the next thing on my resumé.  For example, I might say, “I taught first grade for five years at XYZ School, where I received training in __________ and really learned how to utilize __________ in my classroom.”  This way, I was able to let them know about training or skills ahead of time, in case the opportunity didn’t come up for me to mention some important points. 

At the end of the interview, they will also almost always ask you if there is anything else you want to mention.  I haven’t always been asked this, which is why I like to get it over with at the beginning of the interview.  Have your answer for this memorized, as well.  They may also ask you if you have any questions for them, so know what you’re going to ask ahead of time.  Ask something specific to their school, and show them that you’ve already done research, but you want to know more about a particular curriculum, technology component, school event, professional development opportunity, etc. 

Be impressed...not just impressive!  Study the school/district beforehand.  Choose a few things that impress you, maybe something about the school itself, and mention it during your interview!  They’ll be impressed that you did your homework.  Say something like, “I know you use _________, which I have experience with.”  Or, “On your website, I noticed that you had an event for __________, and I was really impressed by the amount of parent involvement.”  Maybe you love technology {like I do, that’s always my angle!}, or maybe they use a particular curriculum you are excited to try.  I always research the district website and do some sleuthing on schools in the district.  I may or may not have perused my current school’s Twitter feed {and I have to say, they were super impressed that I knew how much they rocked Read Across America week that year}.  The Great Schools website is also a resource {it usually gives API test scores and parent reviews}.  You can also research schools even deeper by finding their SARC – School Accountability Report Card - reports from prior years {usually found on the district website.  I’m not sure if this is only a California thing, though!}.  Read about the school and district news and events, new curriculum adoptions, use of technology, school clubs, character education, school and district awards, ANYTHING that can show you’ve researched them.  Find something to be excited about and connect with, and then let them know just how excited you are!

It's show time!  On the day of your interview, it’s so important to focus on yourself and take the time to breathe.  Get up early and take time getting ready.  Some say you should meditate before a big event {for example, lay on your bed for 10 minutes and imagine yourself succeeding at your interview and then the feeling you will have once you’ve gotten the job}.  Others say you should do a Superman stance {thanks Grey’s Anatomy!} to get yourself pumped.

What should you wear?  They always say “dress for the job you want”, but thank goodness teachers nowadays don’t wear the um…interesting clothes my own teachers used to wear when I was a kid!  {Insert oversized cat sweater here.}  My best advice: dress professionally, but comfortably!  This isn’t a day to try something new.  If you don’t normally wear heels, don’t wear them!  If you don’t normally rock a red lipstick, don’t wear it!  If you’ve never worn a particular hairstyle, don’t do it! You definitely don’t want to be worried about any of those things while you’re there.  Stay in your comfort zone, but dress professionally.  I say even more professionally than you normally would wear in the classroom.  Most of the people I've seen during interviews wear some sort of blazer with dress pants or a skirt.  That’s perfect.  I’m not someone who usually wears heels or skirts, so I definitely wouldn’t wear them to an interview.  My go-to outfit is black dress pants, a black blazer, a colorful shirt {to give me something to stand out}, and nice, comfortable flats.  I try to always keep it simple and professional.

The jury is still out on the “right” time to interview.  I’ve read that being the first one to interview is best, and I’ve also read that being the last one is best.  Either way, accept any time they offer you, and know that usually they only have a certain time frame in which to interview {often just one day}, so they can’t always be flexible.  If you’re unable to make the time they offer, ask if there is another time available.  If you can’t make it at all, decline gracefully, and let them know that you’d like them to hold on to your resumé for the future.

Show up to their office about 10 minutes early.  It’s never a good idea to show up late {obis.} or more than 15 minutes early.  I usually arrive to the parking lot about 20 minutes early, but I spend a good 10 minutes in my car looking over my notes, listening to my favorite song, or calling a friend to distract me!

Be friendly to the office staff and anyone else who may be waiting with you.  I almost always start up a conversation with the people who are interviewing alongside me.  We talk about what grade we teach, where we teach, the weather, anything.  It helps to appear friendly to whoever may be walking by.  And who knows, maybe you both will be hired and you’ll make a new friend!  Stay positive, say hello, and smile at anyone who walks by!

Bring a small notebook and pen.  This is handy for several reasons.  They may not mind if you take some time to jot down notes for your answers.  They will let you know if you aren't allowed to write anything down.  I’ve even been given time beforehand to look at the questions and write down what I want to say.  That was amazing!  I always jot down the names of the staff members on my interview panels.  They will almost always do a very quick introduction at the start of the interview, or they will have nameplates with their names on them.  If I’m interviewing at a district with a large panel of principals, I’ll write down their last names and look up their school site as soon as I can.  If I’m at a school site with principals and teachers, I’ll just write down the name of the principal and vice principal.  See my “After Party” section below for why this is important. 

You might be interviewing by yourself, or you may share the time with other interviewees.  If you’re interviewing alongside other teachers, usually they will have a specific spot for you to sit, and they will let you know who can answer first.  You may or may not be the first one to answer, and the order could change for every question.  This can be both great, and not so great!  Sometimes, not answering first is awesome and it will give you time to formulate an answer or jot some notes down.  Sometimes, another person will say what you wanted to say.  If someone gives your answer, just say “I agree with what ________ said,” and either mention something you would do differently or something you would add to their already great idea.  Smile at the other interviewees while you’re in there, let the panel know that you get along well with others, even in stressful situations. 

Be respectful of their time.  Most of the time, you’ll have no more than a couple of minutes to answer each question.  They may even have a timekeeper who will give you a signal that time is almost up.  This is stressful, but it’s also a big reason why it is so helpful to practice ahead of time.

When they ask you if you have any questions {most of them will save this for the end}, be sure to ask when you should hear from them.  If I don’t have anything specific to ask, I let them know that I don’t have any questions because I have already researched everything I was interested in learning.  This is also a good time to show them your portfolio, or to leave a copy of your mini portfolio with them, if you have one.  I can honestly say that I’ve never once been asked to show my portfolio, but other people have.  Even if you just have a business card with a link to an online portfolio, it’s always good to have something just in case.  Speaking of portfolios, there are a TON of websites out there with info on creating them and what should be included.  I would suggest not leaving a copy of just your resumé since most likely they already have their own copies in front of them.  However, if you have something relevant with letters of recommendation, student work samples, and/or photographs, that can often set you apart.  {Photos can be of classroom setup, student work samples, photos of you teaching a lesson, etc. Side note: steer clear of showing student names and faces!}.

Fake it 'till you make it.  This is a saying that I always find easier said than done, but I do feel like when I try to project a positive attitude and appearance, I feel more positive.  So…smile, smile, smile!  They know you’re nervous!  They’re probably nervous, too!  Stay positive and upbeat, even if you make a mistake.

If you don’t know how to answer a question, just be honest about it.  They’ll appreciate your honesty.  If you don’t have experience in a certain area or are unfamiliar with a buzzword, let them know.  Don’t be scared to ask for some time to think {but again, be mindful of their time}.  They will totally understand if you are a brand new teacher and you don’t have a lot of experience.  In this case, talk about your “ideal” situation and what you would like to do in the classroom, plus any experience you do have from student teaching or volunteering in the classroom.

So what questions should you expect?  There are a TON of websites out there that give you interview tips and sample questions.  If you Google “Teacher Interview Questions”, you’ll find so many questions, it’s overwhelming.  They are super helpful, but the reality is that every interview is different.  Every school and district is looking for something different.  You may experience something completely different than any of the examples I give, as well!

It is impossible to know what they will ask you, but there are some standard questions that are almost always asked:

* Tell us about your background and experience.
* Describe what your classroom would look like if I walked in during a _____ {reading, math, balanced literacy, guided reading, etc.} lesson.
* Why do you want to work in our school/district?
* What classroom management strategies do you use?
* What qualities do have that make you an asset to our school/district?
* Do you have any questions for us?

Some other questions I’ve been asked are:

* Do you have experience with English Language Learners and/or Title 1 schools?
* How do you use assessments in the classroom? 
* What kind of technology have you used?  Are there any specific programs you’ve used?
* How would you help a struggling student?
* How would you help a student who is off task?
* How would you help a student with an IEP?
* How do you know your students have met their goals?
* How do you set goals and expectations in your classroom?
* What training have you had?  {They’ve also asked if I’m familiar with certain programs/curriculum.}
* How do you collaborate with your team? 
* How do you communicate with parents? 
* How do you differentiate instruction?

During your interview, you may be asked to do more than just answer questions.  They might want you to perform some type of task, create a lesson, or even do a demo lesson.  Demo lessons might be to the interview panel or in a classroom full of children.  You might have the freedom to come up with a lesson, or they may even give you a lesson that has already been planned. 

I was once asked to create a lesson plan on the spot after I was given a list of standards and grades to choose from.  I was given standards from K-5 in both ELA and Math, and I spent a lot of the time debating whether or not I should go with something more comfortable {like a guided reading lesson}, or something that I thought would be more fun and engaging {a shapes and geometry lesson}.  In that situation, I actually thought of an awesome TpT activity from Easy Teaching Tools, so I incorporated some of the fun things from that unit to add in to my lesson.  I’m not sure if they were wowed by it, but I was definitely confident in how I approached it and it was an activity I had done with my students already.  Choose something comfortable to you.  If they ask you questions about it, then you’ll be able to explain it easily.  Remember to have a “hook” or an opening {including a reminder of “yesterday, we learned…”} and an engaging lesson.  It’s ok to talk about your ideal situation, so you can include the use of technology, how you would assess, and if you have time, how you would extend or differentiate the lesson. 

Occasionally, you’ll be stumped by a question that will really throw you for a loop.  Like, really.  One question I was asked had to do with difficulties teachers may face with implementing Common Core standards.  Mind you, this was a few years ago when the CCSS were fairly new.  I had no idea how to answer, because I hadn’t used them at the time.  My answer was very vague, and I’m sure I used the words “Ummmm…I’m flexible” somewhere in my answer.  

I recently asked around on Instagram and Facebook for some examples of tricky questions and got some great responses!

* Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
* If I walked into your classroom, what would I see?
* What are three adjectives to describe your weaknesses?
* Outside of teaching, what hobbies or attributes do you have that would contribute to our school?
* How strong-willed are you?
* If you got the call tomorrow that you got this job, what would be the first thing you would do?
* How do you add rigor to your lessons?
* What would you do if a parent told you you were the worst teacher their child ever had?
* What would you have changed about your old school/district?
* Tell me about a time when (insert something negative here) happened and how did you handle it?
* When have you done something that was against district policy for the betterment of students?
* If most of your students showed no growth on a standardized test, who do you think the district should blame?
* Someone was even asked a problem-solving task that involved a piece of paper and a tape dispenser, and she had to raise the dispenser 8 inches off the table without having to hold either one when it was done! 

YIKES!!! Trust me, these are not common questions!!!  {If you’ve gotten any crazy questions, leave them in the comments below!}  And remember, you may have an interview that is completely different than any of these!

The After Party.  Congratulations!  You made it through your interview!  To me, that is a celebration in itself.  But you’re not done yet!  As soon as possible, send a thank you note or email.  Believe it or not, these can often set you apart or help them to keep you in their mind for future positions.  While a handwritten note is the most personal, many principals only have just a few days {or even a few hours!} to make their final decision.  An email will be equally appreciated and much faster.  I sometimes kept thank you cards in my car when I was interviewing, so that I was able to write them quickly and drop them off at the post office ASAP.  I always made sure that I had the names of everyone on my panel.  Sometimes, that wasn’t always possible, and I had to do some research of the school sites to make sure I had their names correct.  I felt like having the names of everyone was most important when I interviewed with a panel of principals, because I didn’t want anyone to feel left out if they mentioned me later on.  I didn’t worry about it as much when I interviewed at a school site, because I could send one note to the principal and made sure to thank him/her “and the panel”.  Always send their letters to their personal school sites, not the district office. 

If I didn’t have time to show my mini portfolio during the interview itself, I’ve even mailed {or emailed} one copy to each person on the panel.  I didn’t do this for every interview, but only for the ones I wanted the most.  I have no idea if they looked at it, but I think it helped me to stand out and it showed that I was serious about being hired. 

Also, to prepare myself for any future interviews, I always take the time afterward to write down any of the questions I was asked.

Treat yo' self.  Seriously.  You deserve something special the day of your interview!  Distract yourself afterwards by hanging out with friends, going to a nice dinner, or going to see a movie.  Exercise, get a manicure, do something that makes you happy, even if it’s only for a little while.  Try to plan this ahead of time, so that you have something happy to look forward to all day.

Just breathe.  The timeline for hearing from the school or district can range from one day to a couple of weeks.  In my experience, it’s usually Human Resources that has the responsibility of offering you the position, and it takes them some time to process paperwork, call references, etc.  If you aren’t the lucky one to be chosen, you’ll probably only receive an email if you weren’t invited to a second interview or offered a job.  Sometimes, it may take longer than two weeks to hear back from them.  Some people feel that it is appropriate after a couple of weeks to call or email just to check where they are in the interview process, but try to avoid being too persistent or pushy if you do this.

What’s next?  Some schools/districts ask you to only go through one interview.  Those are the easiest, but they also only give the principals a super quick snapshot of who you are.  Others have you do second, or even third, interviews.  If you’re asked for another interview, that's awesome!  That’s always a great sign, and I always feel much more confident going into the next round.  They may ask you to answer another series of questions, create a lesson plan, or even do a demo lesson in front of a panel or in a classroom full of students.  If they ask you to go through another round of questions, sometimes it’s a new set of interviewers who may ask some of the same questions.  The rest of the questions tend to be more specific to the school or district needs. 

It's not you, it's them.  Really.  If you aren’t offered the job, please don’t take it personally.  I’ve been told by principals before that they already had someone in mind, and sometimes they just go through the interview process because they have to go through the motions.  Sometimes it’s a VERY close race and it all comes down to who has the most experience in the grade they want to fill.  Sometimes, they have too many people on a team with similar personalities, and they want to balance it out.  Sometimes, they are looking for someone with specific training or skills that will benefit the team.  Sometimes, they want people who are brand new to teaching, and sometimes they want people who have years of experience.  I was told once that I was in the top three choices after the first interview round, but I still didn’t end up getting the job after the second one.  I totally understand how discouraging it is, but I know enough by now to know that there are often so many other things involved and it had nothing to do with me. 

It took me some courage to start doing this, but I started sending emails to the principals asking for advice on what they think might help me with my future interviews.  I didn’t receive replies very often, but the ones I did were very positive and nothing but kind and constructive criticism, if they even felt there was anything to criticize.  Most said it was because I didn’t have experience in that grade or that they were looking for a particular training that I didn't have.  It never hurts to ask!  They understand how difficult it is, and those who are kind enough to reply want to see you succeed.

Just keep swimming!  Keep trying.  If you aren’t able to find a job just yet, try to do something related to teaching.  Become a substitute, work in an after-school program or summer camp, or just volunteer at a neighborhood school.  Principals may really appreciate someone who is willing to work an after-school event, or help with copies or translating for the parents.  Do something to get your foot in the door if you are brand new.  Making yourself visible and known to some people who can recommend you is really helpful later on.  Sometimes, it's all in who you know.

The one thing I always take away from interviews is the experience it gives me.  Good or bad, I had the chance to practice doing something that terrified me.  It has only made me stronger, more confident, and infinitely more prepared.  Whenever things didn’t work out, I stayed positive and kept applying and putting my resumé out there.  Amazing things will happen if you just keep going!

I really hope that you’ve found some tips and tricks that will help you during your next interview.  I'm wishing you the best of luck right now, and I know you are an amazingly talented teacher who will find something awesome!  You’re gonna rock this!!!

Happy Teaching!