This week, we respond to your request about preparing for your teaching service commission interview. Everyone has weighed in and given their own little nuggets of wisdom, and I think I should tell you, the tips come from people who were interviewed and also, have done the interviewing.


You’ll get the full list as the week progresses, but I wanted to share with you what I think ANYONE interested in becoming an educator should have in his/ her arsenal. 


    1. A teaching philosophy: You need to know what your WHY is. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. For those of you who’ve done     a Dip Ed. portfolio, you’ll know it’s one of the first things you need to put in it. What does teaching mean to you? If you had to     define what a teacher is, what analogy/ metaphor would you use? 


    For example, I compared a teacher to a carpenter who has an apprentice (aka the student). You pass on the tools of your trade     (your content/ knowledge) and you let him/ her practice with ‘scaffolding’ (see what I did there? Cuz they use scaffolding and so do     teachers). After a time, you let them, as we say, ‘come into their own’ and perhaps become even a better carpenter than you! 


    Some teachers compare themselves to gardeners, cultivating and growing a healthy plant. Others to candles, lighting the way     point is, you need to think about the analogy/ metaphor that works best for you and develop your own philosophy. 


    Point to note, it can change over time, but you need a starting point.


    2. Knowledge of the essential components of a lesson plan: I am well aware lesson plans look different for every subject area,     but there are some elements of a lesson plan that are common to all. The indispensables are:


        a) Objectives/ Learning Outcomes: Why are you teaching what you’re teaching? What’s the goal you want your students to         achieve?     What knowledge do they need to leave your class with? Be as clear and precise when writing these, and refer to         Bloom’s     taxonomy (revised version) when preparing your lesson.


        b) Scaffolded Activities: You need to ensure that you choose activities that gradually help students to reach the goal/ target. A “         we do     it ⇒ work with a peer to do it ⇒ do it on your own, is a good approach to take when setting up the flow of your activities


        c) Evaluation: I hear my Dip. ed tutor’s voice in my head with this one. “Always reach your evaluation, even if it means skipping         an activity you had planned.” Make an executive decision about what’s the best activity to omit and move into the evaluation. 


        Note that the evaluation MUST match your learning outcome/objective. I can speak for foreign languages as that’s my field. For         example, If you want students to be able to state what they’d like to eat and drink, that’s an oral/ speaking objective. So you         can’t give them a written skill evaluation like completing a ‘At a restaurant’ dialogue.Try a restaurant skit instead, with one         student as a waiter and one as a customer.


        Never walk out of the classroom until you’ve corrected the evaluation with your class. If you do, how can you know if your         learning outcome has been achieved? Even if you can’t hear every student’s order (back to the restaurant example), make sure         you listen to a few and give feedback.


        d) Contingency planning: We overlook it, but those of us who’ve been doing it for years (decades even), we know how awry         things can go. The tech fails, the laptop suddenly needs to update, the list is endless when it comes to how your lesson can take         a nosedive. So if it does, what’s your plan B? Do you have back up worksheets, an exported PDF of a PowerPoint? Plan B, C,         WXYZ is part of teaching. Sorry to burst your bubble.


    3) An understanding of what Technology Integration means: There are those who might fight me on this point, claiming that     the infrastructure isn’t there in our schools to support tech integration. But listen to me, while I agree, we need to realize that     education is changing on a global scale. One of the reasons that’s happening is because of technology (another is that we’re     understanding more about how the brain learns best). 


    Tech integration, mind you, is not showing a powerpoint/ power paragraph in your class. You have to get students interacting with     the technology. Let them log on to Kahoot, Quizizz, Plickers, Edpuzzle, Blooket...gosh, the possibilities are endless. Create     interactive presentations with Genially, Pear Deck….have them use Flipgrid to create videos…


    Don’t do boring.If the tech fails at school, have them work on your tech stuff at home. Keep track of who’s participating and award     them points as they go. ClassDojo is a great way you can do that, but of course, it’s not the only site there is. 


    My point is, don’t stick to the whiteboard like your life depends on it, and the marker in your hand.


    4) A clear idea of Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) and what it entails


    Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is defined as: 


    “An integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and     apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective     goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring     decisions.

    SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning     environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and     instruction, and ongoing evaluation. SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to     co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities.”


     See Fundamentals of SEL - CASEL  for more info.


    Whether it’s through intentional instruction or informal discussion, social and emotional needs cannot be neglected in the 21st     Century. We’ve heard Maslow before Bloom, and that’s absolutely right. There’s now scientific proof that Emotional     Quotient/Intelligence (EQ) is as important, if not more so,  than IQ (Intelligence Quotient).  Do your reading, study the research     findings and learn how you can include it in your curriculum delivery.



You need to be able to discuss what the different components of the Interactive Casel Wheel (shown above) are; For more info, see:  What Is the CASEL Framework?

And if you want it broken down even further, consult the Casel/ SOAR Core competencies here: SOAR® SEL CASEL Alignment.5)


5. An interest in Educational Research: I doubt anyone is in education for the money. After all, our salaries are in dire need of a raise, but that’s another cause altogether. I suggest that you be able to answer the question: “What area of educational research are you interested in?”  Don’t be the deer in the headlights or ‘blink, blink’ like you ‘got nothing’ when the panel asks.

Pick an area that interests you, and show that you’ve been reading up on it. Keep abreast of developments in that particular area and share your thoughts with the panel. 


Like for me, I am extremely interested in tailoring teaching to how the brain learns best. It’s brought me to books like “Upgrade your teaching: Understanding by Design  meets Neuroscience.” (McTighe & Willis, 2019), as well as, “Neurodevelopmental Differentiation: Optimizing Brain Systems to Maximize Learning” (Fuller & Fuller, 2021). And it’s literally got me hooked.

So choose your area, be it classroom engagement, metacognition, blended learning, the flipped classroom, Universal Design for Learning (UDL)…whatever interests you. Delve into the very depths of the topic. This will show the panel that you’re committed to Education and improving the field. We need people to take it from where it’s at, to where it could be. Visionaries, if you allow me to wax poetic.


I hope my suggestions help you to prepare for your interview and more importantly, for the field you’re hoping to enter. Teaching isn’t a walk in the park, so don’t expect it to be. You have to be willing to never stop learning, even while you’re teaching. Once you accept that, you’ll be fine. 


Best of luck and look out for more great tips, from the team at 21st Century Educators, as the week progresses.