Unraveling the “Puzzle” of Landing a Music Teacher Job
By NAfME Member Paul K. Fox
This article first appeared on Paul Fox’s blog here.
Assembling the pieces: Interview Questions and Assessment Criteria
Soon it will be the season of new school district postings of employment openings and opportunities to be hired! Hurray! At long last, college music education majors have made it through all of the music and methods courses, recitals and concerts, competency exams, field observations, student teaching, and Praxis testing. Or, perhaps you are a veteran teacher looking to relocate and find a new job? You’ve come to the right place!
With rumors of retirements, sabbaticals, teacher shortages, and HR staff and administrators scrambling to find people to fill positions, NOW is the time to “bone up” on marketing yourself and practicing your interviewing skills—to get together with your friends and fellow “rookies” and schedule mock interview sessions to interrogate and evaluate each other. Record your mock interviews and sit back, watch, critique, and learn.
A large number of past blog posts within this “jobs/training” section were provided to assist prospective new or transferring music educators in preparing for the often-stressful job search process. Scroll down for a summary of “the basics” to help you gain the tools, knowledge, competence, and confidence to succeed at your next interview!
Let’s put the pieces together to ace those employment screenings!
How Would YOU Respond to These Interview Questions?
Special thanks to Michigan State University
- Tell us something about your professional strengths, challenges, and goals for the future.
- Who had the greatest influence on you becoming a music teacher and why?
- What are the most important qualities of an outstanding music educator?
- Describe a successful lesson plan you have developed and how did you assess the learning?
- How will you accommodate students with special needs or varied interests in your music program?
- How would you recruit/encourage students and “grow” interest and participation in the music program?
- Why is it important for students to be actively engaged in the performing arts?
- What is the role of sacred music in the school choral program?
- Describe the ultimate choral program in your school—types and make-up of ensembles.
- You are meeting a middle school student for the first time How would you convince him to join your _____ (band, strings, choir)?
- There’s a guidance counselor who is not a supporter of the ___. He discourages students from including music in their schedule. How would you try to improve the situation?
- How important are competitions and festivals to you?
- How do you select soloists, leadership positions, or rank seating in your ensemble?
- Discuss your approach for teaching improvisation for the first time.
- Discuss your background in Orff, Kodaly, Gordon, Suzuki, and Dalcroze.
- Give some examples of materials you would use to build a diverse repertoire.
- Discuss the process you use in developing the singing voice.
- How do teach a group of 5thgraders who are having trouble mastering dotted note values?
- Describe your classroom management procedures. What kind of discipline do you require?
- What personal qualities do you have that would make you an effective leader… team member?
- If offered the job, how do you see your involvement in our district (both music and nonmusic)?
- Name 3 vital emphases in your teaching. What is most important: content, outcome, or process?
- How would your students describe you? How would your friends and/or colleagues?
What Are the Interviewers Looking For?
Actual sample candidate rating form
This form was used at the school district from which the author retired:
During the mock sessions, here’s an assessment tool you (and those observing your “performance”) can use. For emphasis, place the letter of the criteria under either the “good” or “bad” column.
Are You Missing Any More Pieces of the Puzzle?
The ultimate outline interview primer for pre-service music teachers
- Overall marketing skills – “the science” of finding a job
- “But you got to know the territory…” (The Music Man)
- Making connections
- Branding yourself
- Storytelling about the challenges and triumphs you faced in life
- Proving that you have “what it takes” and your skills/experiences would be a “good fit” to the needs, goals, and values of the institution, employer, and position to which you are applying
- Being persistent and well-organized
- The “alphabet soup” of educational terminology, jargon, acronyms, etc.
- In PA, training and assessment in the criteria of Charlotte Danielson’s “Four Domains” from the Framework for Teaching.See also this blog on criteria for selection of the ideal teacher candidate.
- Types of music teacher employment screenings. See also this blog on a blueprint for success in preparing for the job interview.
- Panel or Group
- Audition/Performance (on major and minor instrument, singing, piano accompaniment)
- Lesson Demonstration
- Types of interview questions
- Music and music education content and methods
- General education terminology and concepts (see #2 above)
- Past experience and education (avoid an emphasis on a specialty) and personal philosophy and goals
- Personality traits, social skills, and habits of “professionalism”
- Interview questions
- Blueprint for Success—Preparing for the Job Interview
- Interview Questions Revisited
- The “ABCs” of additional employment marketing topics
- 21stcentury employment search strategies
- Membership in state and national associations, and other professional associations
- “Have resume will travel”
- E-portfolio and professional website
- Electronic business cards
- Hiring agency sites and job bulletin boards
- Additional interview assessments
- Other websites to peruse
- Majoring in Music: Finding Your First Music Teaching Job
- NAfME: A Checklist for “Intelligent” Interviews
- Edutopia: How to Rock That Teaching Job Interview
- We Are Teachers: 20 Interview Questions Every Teacher Must Be Able to Answer
- Michigan State University: Sample Music Interview Questions
- Indeed: 50 Teacher Interview Questions and Answers and Top 6 Common Interview Questions and Answers
“You can take it with you . . . ” The above list is available here as an easy-to-print PDF file.
Check out the NAfME Career Center to develop your job profile and review job openings.
About the author:
Paul K. Fox, a NAfME Retired Member, is Chair of the PMEA State Council for Teacher Training, Recruitment, and Retention. He invites you to peruse his website.
Did this blog spur new ideas for your music program? Share them on Amplify! Interested in reprinting this article? Please review the reprint guidelines.
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.
April 29, 2021. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)