A special education teacher works in schools and child care centers to educate children with physical, emotional, and learning disabilities. These individuals assess children’s skills and learning requirements and track their progress in collaboration with teachers.
In this article, we will look at some of the common interview questions in special education teacher interviews. You will be assessed on your experience, skills, and behavioral traits that may come in handy in this job.
Let us take a look at the following questions:
1. Why Are You Interested In This Position?
This is usually an opening question in several interviews. It serves as a foundation for questions to follow and also a means to get you talking. The right answer will convince the interviewer that you are the best fit for the job.
I am passionate about helping special education students with their learning. Even though I can teach all grades, I am mostly inclined towards elementary schools, such as this one. I would therefore like to use my experience and expertise to help your students learn and become useful members of society.
2. What Are The Roles of a Special Education Teacher?
Do you know your duties as a special education teacher? This should be easy to answer. You can either use the provided job description in the job listing or mention some of the roles you were mandated within your former jobs.
A special education teacher’s main mandate is to teach children with physical, emotional, and learning disabilities. They can work in schools and childcare centers to assess these students’ skills and educational requirements, design individualized educational plans, and track the student’s progress with both teachers and staff.
3. What Are The Qualities That a Special Education Teacher Needs To Be Effective?
You definitely know some of the required qualities in this job. These can either be attributes, skills, and behaviors. Make sure that whatever you mention is role-specific.
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A special education teacher should be compassionate and a good listener. They should have proper assessment and collaboration skills to work with students and other related professionals. Other qualities include devotion to improvement, extensive knowledge of theory and practice, and understanding. Lastly, one requires passion to stay in this role.
4. Mention a Challenge That You Faced During Your Last Role and How You Managed It
Every job comes with a fair set of challenges, which you as an employee need to overcome. The interviewer must therefore be convinced of your problem-solving skills before giving you a job. Mention any experience that paints you as a good problem solver.
Before I moved to my former job post, I had not dealt with such a great number of students. They also had a range of challenges, some of which I had not encountered since my internship days. I had to move fast and adjust to my new surroundings. I swiftly interacted with the students, got to know them well, and worked closely with the school counselor. Within no time, I had adjusted well and was on top of my game.
5. Mention Your Daily Life As a Special Education Teacher
What does a day in your professional life look like? What are some of the activities the contracting institution expects you to perform daily? The best way to approach this question is to pick a busy day and describe it to the interviewer.
My day starts early and is mostly spent in the classroom. Once I report to work, I quickly head to the classroom, greet the students and focus on the learning activities. The first half of the day is spent co-teaching with my fellow teachers, leading a small group reading and co-teaching writing before I break for lunch. After class, I give extra attention to those who need it and perform various special activities.
6. Briefly Describe Your Experience
Just give an overview of your career. In this case, also mention some of the special disabilities that you have dealt with. However, make sure that you are brief.
I have ten years of experience in this field. I have worked in both child care centers and special schools. Some of the conditions I have interacted with include Schizophrenia, Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and autism. However, I can handle much more based on my learning.
7. Mention a Strategy and Mindset Required For This Role
The right strategy makes you good at what you do. You cannot be an excellent special education teacher if you do not have a way of going about your role. It would be best if you also had the perfect mindset for results. Answer this confidently.
I have learned that the best strategy for this role is to make parents part of their children’s learning. I love individualized education program meetings because they allow me to bring parents up to speed on their kids’ learning. Being compassionate is also a quality and strategy at the same time. As for the right mindset, one needs to be positive and willing to motivate.
8. What is The Main Challenge That You Foresee In This Role?
Have you researched and discovered some of the possible challenges that you might face in this job? You should if you haven’t. When answering this question, make sure that you are honest lest you realize later that you do not fit well in the organization.
I have looked at your school policies, timetable and rules and found them impressive. I believe that I will easily blend in here if given a chance. I cannot, therefore, identify a major challenge at the moment. Thanks to my years of experience and level of expertise in this field, any that comes up will be dealt with accordingly.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In This Job?
Special education students require more effort to teach than general students. This job may therefore wear you out easily. Sell yourself and convince the interviewer that your motivation is intrinsic.
I grew up with an autistic brother and therefore understand how hard it is to live in their world. My motivation thus arises from making their world a better place. I am passionate about what I do. Seeing my students happy and satisfied at the end of the day is highly fulfilling, which I look forward to every time I come to work.
10. Mention a Strength That Qualifies You For This Role
Whatever this question seeks to assess is closely linked to the qualities of a good special education teacher, just that it is more specific than general. While answering this, try to relate the given strength to the role at hand.
I am always passionate about everything I do. I ensure that everything is done in order and results achieved. Special education teachers must be fervent in their job to see the students perform well and become better members of society. Without passion, one cannot last months in this field.
11. In Your Experience, Why Do You Feel That Individualized Education PROGRAM Meetings Are Important?
As a special education teacher, the interviewer expects you to understand the importance of continuous assessment for all the students and having their parents involved in their learning. Show the interviewer that you are experienced in these programs and can manage challenging circumstances. Also, be ready for follow-up questions.
In my role, I always ensure that I work closely with my students to see what they can achieve and also inform their parents of their progress. I love individualized education program meetings because they make parents occupy a significant part of their kids’ learning and help students achieve more in their education.
12. Have You Ever Had To Change Your Teaching Approach To Help Students Learn? Would you Mind Telling Me About That Experience If Any
Note that you will be working with students with various conditions. You will come across those with autism, Down syndrome, and even dyslexia. Therefore, the interviewer must know whether you can change your teaching style to take care of all these students. Show that you are compassionate, innovative, and adaptable.
I have had such an experience, especially with autistic students. I normally create a unique individualized Education Program to help them learn and improve their sentence construction skills. At the previous school I taught in; I had to teach the students how to type words and sentences instead of using a pencil to write since the latter made them upset. This greatly improved their attitude and writing comprehension.
13. What Are The Grade Levels That You Have Taught In Your Career?
This question seeks to reveal your experience further and ascertain if you will be a good addition to the workplace. Remember, some institutions require teachers who can deal with any grade, and therefore, being experienced with all may increase your chance of landing the job. However, be honest and show that you are committed.
I have had the chance to deal with all grade levels in my career. I have taught students at all these levels, even though I mostly prefer those in elementary school. I am well equipped to know the specific needs of children in every grade and make them consistent in their learning.
14. What Are Some of The Conditions and Disabilities That You Mainly Interact With?
As a special education teacher, the interviewer expects you to be conversant with your students’ different conditions and disabilities. Getting to know some of the conditions that you have interacted with helps the interview panel to ascertain whether you will be a good fit in the institution. Show the interviewer that you have advanced knowledge of different related conditions.
I have taught students with an array of conditions such as bipolar, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsion, and autism. I normally work with the school counselor and the doctor to develop good lesson plans that can help me manage a crisis if the need arises. I have also dealt with students suffering from epilepsy, an experience that has taught me to be compassionate and patient in my work.
15. Have You Ever Worked With Special Children Who Are Part OF Inclusive Classrooms?
Certain schools only have all-inclusive classrooms despite special education children being in attendance. Therefore, the interviewers must ascertain that you understand what it takes to help these special education students adjust to the classroom environments. While answering this question, convince the interviewer that you are flexible and can plan.
This was part of my job for a while. I worked with general education teachers to assist such students in testing and handling complex assignments. I also ensured that the schools made the necessary adjustments to the all-inclusive classes to help them adapt easily. Lastly, I was on standby to help such students in case of a serious crisis or challenge occurred based on their conditions.
16. Do You Believe That Smaller Classes Increase The Ability of Students To Achieve Their Academic Goals?
This question seeks your opinion on one of the established learning means of special needs students. It would be best to convince the interviewer that you are interested in giving your students a quality education. Therefore, show that you have the requisite skills and experience to help these students achieve their goals.
I believe that smaller classrooms have a great impact on learning. Every child or student will have more one-on-one time with the teacher, who will also have an easier time supervising them. This is also important in special education students who need to be monitored closely in light of their challenging needs. Smaller classrooms will work in this case as it imparts each child a good experience, allowing them to achieve their goals.
17. Why Did You Choose To Pursue This Career?
This can serve as a general or an opening question. From here, the interviewer may build a foundation for other questions to follow. While answering this question, make sure that you keep your answer concise. You should, however, be ready to offer more information when asked by the interviewer.
My brother was born with special needs. He is autistic. I, therefore, joined this field to help similar kids feel valued and learn well. I have also managed to help my brother in so many ways, thanks to this amazing career.
I have always wanted to work with people having special needs, making them feel valued and wanted. I found this option highly rewarding, and therefore, decided to pursue special education.
18. How Do You Assess Your Student’s Progress?
Your work as a special education teacher stretches far beyond promoting good behavior and helping the students learn. You must also ensure that whatever you teach makes an impact on their lives. Therefore, show the interviewer that you understand whatever you are doing when answering this question.
I normally give random assessment tests on issues that we have covered to check my student’s progress. I then help them based on the results of the tests and walk them through some of the issues that they may have missed. I also give them time to present some of the things we have covered before their classmates. Lastly, I organize one-on-one sessions where I ask them questions on some of the areas that we have covered.
19. How Will You Deal With a Disruptive Student?
Every special education teacher understands that their students need different approaches when it comes to discipline. This explains why it is one of the most demanding careers in education. Therefore, it would be best if you convinced the interviewer that your approaches would be effective when dealing with such students.
Whenever I encounter an excessively disruptive student, I first attempt to understand where the behavior is coming from and some of the triggers. Once these have been established, I will work as hard as possible to eliminate these triggers and replace them with some of the beneficial things that the student loves. I may also pair the student with the school counselor who is in charge of ensuring behavioral change.
20. How Do You Always Motivate Your Students To Cope With Challenging Students?
Special needs students may be harder to motivate as compared to their counterparts. You should, however, convince the interviewer that you are up to the task and can motivate them. Be sure to mention several activities that one can use to motivate these students.
Motivated students perform well. To help my students persevere with challenging assignments, I increase their interest in different activities, offer appropriate rewards and reinforcements, and make positive changes to their learning environment. I may also analyze various tasks to identify areas that need my concern before dealing with them.
These are the commonest questions in special education teacher interview questions and answers. Make sure that you answer them confidently and show the interviewer that you are highly experienced. Also, work on your interview skills, body language, and posture.