The Recipe for the best Classroom is the Teacher

Whether it’s your dream to open a preschool or you’re about to send your child to school the preschool teacher will set the tone and for this reason the interview with said teacher is crucial.

Foremost, think about what you want for your child or for your school. Preschool teaching is fairly dominated by women and you may want to seek a male teacher. You might even consider hiring both a man and a woman as both add to the classroom. Take George and Lily, for instance. Lily is creative and nurturing, but when she calls out, “Clean up time” the children ignore her. George, on the other hand, commands attention with his lower voice.

However, many parents worry when it comes to having a man change diapers or even give discipline. If this is your school, be prepared to advocate for your male teacher.

Consider what you want from a teacher before you start the interview process. Do you want the teacher to have a specific amount of education and experience? Should this person be prolific in a particular philosophy say Developmentally Appropriate Practices or Montessori for instance? What qualities do you aspire for yourself and for your children? How will the teacher represent these qualities?

You can tell a great deal from a resume including years of experience and education as well as job longevity. Keep in mind that preschool teachers tend to job hop more than other professionals do. This is because of the general pay and benefits in this occupation as well as a teacher’s desire to learn. The teacher who has stayed in one place for at least a year shows a degree of commitment which is important because children require consistency. However, when hiring a teacher you should keep in mind that the teacher who has worked with various populations and modes of teaching also brings a wealth of experience to your school.

During the interview remember what this job entails. The teacher needs to be able to do physical work that is demanding as well as emotionally draining. What are some of the subtle signs to look for that may indicate that she or he can handle this job? Is the applicant dressed to the nines wearing four inch heels, long finger nails and too much perfume? She might be great in another line of work, but probably is not suited for a preschool.

You’ve got your questions ready, you’ve researched the resumes and in essence you’ve done your homework. It’s now time for you to sit down with the applicants and for them to show if they too have done their homework. Ask if they know about your school and what they know about it. This will tell you how interested the person is as well as how motivated they are to do the little extras that are always required in preschools.

Be prepared to ask scenario questions because these will give you the opportunity to see how well the teacher can handle actual events that take place in a preschool daily. For example, “It’s lesson time and Johnny is running around. What do you do?” The teacher’s answer reveals her style. She may redirect Johnny with reminders or suggestion of lessons. She may ask him what he is doing and why. Ask yourself what you are seeking in a teacher because this scenario indicates how the teacher will handle the classroom environment. 

Remember to ask about how the teacher handles parents. Does the applicant have experience with parents? Does this person have the finesse to handle the parent who might get in his or her face? Is she gracious, calm, gentle, sweet though steadfast and professional? Is the teacher “too friendly?” A good teacher is friendly and open, though also has boundaries with parents to maintain professionalism.

The teacher is responsible for the classroom which can get hairy fast. Is she organized, easy going and on top of things? It’s about balance. You want to seek the teacher who is able to maintain a classroom that is calm, fluid and fun at the same time. Does the teacher think that limits are important? A well balanced teacher knows that limits make a child feel safer. This teacher will neither set too many limits or too few creating balance for the calm and fluid classroom. 

Good luck because the reality is that you can have the most beautiful and well equipped school, but it’s the teacher that is the most important ingredient for any well run classroom.