Why this matters:

In order for students to learn efficiently, it’s important for classrooms to be clean, appealing, and organized. An unkempt classroom often leads to students losing important material, getting injured, or becoming unfocused from the lesson. Therefore, both the teacher and the teaching assistant must work together to cultivate a safe and enriching learning environment.

What to listen for:

  • Best practices for organizing student materials and assignments
  • An ability to keep track of supplies and materials in the classroom
  • An explanation of the importance of an enriching learning environment

Why this matters:

Teaching assistants will spend a majority of their workday assisting and communicating with students. Students are most responsive and receptive to educators who make the effort to understand them. Once that trust is established, teaching assistants can have a tremendously positive impact and help contribute to a positive classroom culture.

What to listen for:

  • Eagerness to learn about students’ interests and backgrounds
  • A willingness to build positive relationships with students
  • Best methods to develop a mutual trust between teacher and students

Why this matters:

While teachers are responsible for creating and distributing assignments, many teaching assistants are tasked with grading and recording results in a gradebook. It can be easy to become overwhelmed with the volume of assignments. Effective teaching assistants will know how to prioritize their deadlines, while making sure that everything is submitted to their teachers in a timely manner.

What to listen for:

  • The ability to project manage efficiently and prioritize important deadlines
  • Consistent and transparent communication with the lead teacher
  • The ability to problem-solve and execute necessary actions for work completion

 

Why this matters:

Teaching assistants won’t always agree with their teacher’s decisions about a student or a lesson. It’s important for candidates to know how to approach disagreements with honesty, empathy, and a willingness to problem-solve. They should facilitate healthy and constructive conversations, which keep the classroom dynamic consistent and tension-free.

What to listen for:

  • Willingness to listen to the teacher’s rationale behind their decisions
  • Honest communication to preserve positive professional relationships
  • Solution-oriented mindset for future interactions with the teacher

Why this matters:

When the teacher is immersed in an engaging lesson, they may not be able to address all classroom behaviors. Occasionally, there may be students that do not meet expectations and are distracted from the main objective. The teaching assistant must be able to resolve disruptions without interrupting the entire class.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of practical classroom management strategies
  • Ability to address disruptive behaviors without distracting other students
  • Positive rapport that enables the candidate to speak honestly with students

Why this matters:

Not all learning styles are the same: students learn at different speeds, using different techniques. Teaching assistants should collaborate with teachers and identify effective strategies to help students who need more differentiated content, small-group discussions, or even one-on-one instruction.

What to listen for:

  • Effective instructional strategies that can support a struggling student
  • Familiarity with different learning styles as well as how to engage them
  • Proven experience in assisting students with content material

Why this matters:

Sometimes, students become unmotivated and have difficulty finishing their assignments. To prepare for these situations, teaching assistants should help establish special incentives that capture their attention. Whether the prizes are physical, such as unique school supplies, or privileges within the classroom, like homework passes, students will appreciate working toward a tangible reward.

What to listen for:

  • A comprehensive list of possible incentives that the candidate can use
  • Willingness to be creative with different types of incentives
  • Ability to use incentives to set high academic expectations for students

Why this matters:

Although the lead teacher will be developing the content-heavy portion of the curriculum, the teaching assistant can give helpful insight into what lessons or projects will be effective. This also provides the interviewer a glimpse into how well the teaching assistant knows their students, as well as how collaborative they are when working with other staff.

What to listen for:

  • The ability to work with other teachers to ensure high-quality teaching for all students
  • Basic understanding of curriculum development
  • Familiarity with classroom community when working with the teacher to differentiate lessons

Why this matters:

Teaching assistants should prioritize building positive relationships with each family, so that when the time comes to deliver news about a student, they can facilitate all types of conversations. Whether they have to address disruptive behavior or highlight a student’s achievements, families will be more receptive to communicating if there is established trust.

What to listen for:

  • Experience interacting with families in a positive, professional manner
  • Ability to build mutual trust for potentially difficult conversations regarding behavior or academics
  • Detailed explanation on the importance of building positive relationships for a healthier school community
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