5 Interview Questions For Aspiring Teachers

In my opinion the key to almost any job interview is preparation and an interview to land the job of a teacher is no exception to this. Due to the relatively high competition for most teaching vacancies, doing well in your interview is incredibly important should you wish to actually be hired. I will now list five questions that come up very often during teacher interviews and can be a bit tricky if you have not rehearsed answers before hand. I will of course also explain how to answer them in such a way that makes you shine.

How does your teaching plan compare to this states standards?

If you have worked as a teacher for long enough you will be fully aware how important it is considered to have lesson plans that heavily correspond with state guidelines. This question is one of the few that you will be asked where it is highly beneficial to have physical evidence supporting your answer as the perfect answer involves you taking out your lesson plan and illustrating how neatly it corresponds with that of the state standards. Doing so also highlights your attention to detail and the fact that you have put a lot of time into preparing for the interview, both of which paint you in a favorable light.

What approach do you take to prepare students for standardized examinations?

The first step of course is ensuring that you know the names of the standardized examinations within the state that you are applying for work. Though this may sound straightforward, it is a pretty common mistake to make when applying for work in a state that you have not worked in previously. The next aspect of the answer is a detailed explanation of the formats and techniques that you have used successfully in the past. Also do not be afraid to mention the techniques that you have found inadequate, such a mention illustrates both sincerity and a willingness to learn from your mistakes.

What is your discipline philosophy?

There a number of points that you should make when answering this question. One of the first is that you believe strongly in positive reinforcement and that you believe in being firm but find yelling to be pointless. You should mention that you believe in consistency and that the rules for your classroom do not change on a weekly basis nor do they bend for favoured students. You should also try to get across that you generally try to engage students and hence tend to have less discipline problems than many teachers, however you need to be careful not to sound contrived. Lastly you need to remember that the last thing that you mention is a tendency to send students to the principles office. You should after all be able to handle things yourself and principles have little interest in taking on teachers who are just going to increase their workload every time a student stands out of line.

How do you communicate with parents?

This question almost always comes up during interviews to work at elementary schools, however it is pretty common for high school positions also. If you have worked as a teacher before you will be aware that interaction with parents is an important and unavoidable aspect of the job. The two points that you really need to provide are first that you are not afraid to contact parents should a students discipline levels become a problem. The second point is that you are always willing to listen to any concerns that parents may have and often inform them of this fact at the start of term.

Do you have any experience of dealing with students with an IEP?

This is a question that can easily throw a spanner in the works for any teacher who has not had such a student. Many teachers have not and therefore a lack of preparation can lead to an answer consisting of a single word and this obviously does not come off as particularly impressive. If you have no experience in the matter do not be afraid to say so, however ensure that you understand what would be required should you have such a responsibility in the future. There are many resources online available and provided you do your research and offer a short concise explanation, there is no reason why this question should be a curve ball.

What Should a Personal Development Plan Contain?

Together with the recent rise in the popularity of life coaches has come a rise in the popularity of personal development plans. And though I believe that there is a lot of hype surrounding such plans at the moment, in their simplest form, they can be an incredibly useful structure through which you can plan to reach your goals. I will now outline both what a personal development plan is, why you may want to create one and how you can go about doing so if you so wish. A personal development plan in its simplest form is simply a statement of where and who you want to be within a certain amount of time and how this can best be achieved. The advantages of having such a plan at your disposal are:

Clarity

Both the plan and the actual development of it lead to a better understanding of exactly what it is that you want from your life. Even incredibly hard working and driven people are not entirely sure of what it is that they are really aiming for. Having a clear statement of an exact goal will allow you to concentrate and focus solely on that goal and not waste time working for other more obscure things that you may not even want all that much. For me this clarity has lead to both increased direction and much higher levels of motivation in my life.

Direction

When you are not entirely sure of what it is that you want it is difficult to establish to most efficient route towards achieving it and therefore a lot of time is wasted, perhaps not going in circles but certainly semi circles. By having a specific and measurable objective, the fastest means of achieving it is generally far easier to see. And once seen it is far easier to implement.

Motivation

A personal development plan can be a great way to keep your goal in mind and it can therefore be a lot easier to motivate yourself to do things that you do not want. Procrastination is a very large obstacle for many to overcome and having a specific and clear goal whose achievement will only be the result of your hard work enables you to understand at all times just why it is important that certain things get done.

What Should a Personal Development Plan Include?

There are two primary things to remember when developing a personal development plan. The first is that in order to achieve the above mentioned clarity, you need to include both what you want to achieve and how you intend on achieving it. The second is that a personal development plan is developed with only you in mind. There is no specific template to follow and no standards to conform to. After all who else is going to read it but you? You should include what ever you believe will offer yourself the most clarity, direction and motivation. In order to offer you some inspiration, here are the two sections of my personal development plan that I feel have helped me the most.

Short, Medium and Long Term Goals

I find that a mix of such goals is very much advantageous. Long term goals offer direction that short term goals never will however they are also much easier to procrastinate with. I generally try to have at least one or two goals that can be completed within the short term which I define as less than three months. My long term goals on the other hand are those that will take years to complete but which are often completed in portions through my short term goals.

Mistakes and Lessons Learnt

Though at first this may not seem very motivational but to purpose is not to dwell on my mistakes but to focus on them in a positive manner. I feel that it is important to not immediately forget your mistakes but to identify both what they were and what can be learnt from them. To do so is in my opinion the easiest means of learning from them and by documenting them I am given an occasional reminder of how to ensure that such mistakes are not made again.

In conclusion, though I don’t feel that they should be paid for nor a specific format subscribed to, a personal development plan that is individually constructed can be the ideal means of not only understanding what you want from your life but also how to get it.

How To Build Your Organizational Skills

Success is based upon what you get done as opposed to how long you spend doing it. One of the primary keys to increasing your productivity is being organized. Organizational skills are incredibly easy to understand and implement and yet they have anenormous effect on just how much you get done each day. They are also one of the most common skills found missing in peoples day to day work practices. There is sadly no exact set of organizational skills that will suit everyone. We are after all, all a little bit messy in our own unique way. I have done considerable research however on the subject of self organisation and these are the four tips that I have found to be the most useful. Though simple, how many of them do you currently implement?

Sort out your working area

I admit that generally the more work I do during a work day, the more of a mess my desk looks afterwards. It is of course very easy for high up executives to have spotless desks as they’ve more than likely just spent their day twirling around in their fancy chairs all day. However a messy desk leads to things getting lost and when you are cursing and looking for things, you are not only not getting anything done but also getting stressed out and scaring your co-workers. Everything you need to work with on a daily basis should be easily accessible. And it may sound simple but I learned a couple of years ago that buying a hundred pens every now and then can be a simple yet fantastic investment.

Invest in a weekly schedule

Remember that if you are going to achieve certain things throughout the working week, knowing how and when you need to achieve them is essential. Many people just start the week with objectives and take them as they come, not only is this unorganized but also inefficient. Do not be afraid to even spend two hours per week on this schedule, the time saved will be far more than this.

Keep one schedule not ten

One of the first steps in becoming an organized person is of course to have a schedule like the one above that clearly states everywhere you need to be and what you need to do there each day. However just because a single schedule will make you more organized, that does not mean that three or four schedules should be made just to make sure. You need a single source that illustrates your entire schedule. This can be in the form of a calendar, a PDA, a notebook anything. The point is that it needs to be a single source, so that you can gain an overall picture of what you need to do in a single place. Having fifty different alarms set on your computer telling you that you need to be in different places at the same time is the exact opposite of being organised.

Start every day with a 5 point list

In a world of endless technological advancement, some of the simplest things remain the best. Yes the Stone Age invention of the list is actually more effective than any PDA. Five minutes in the morning writing out the five most important things that you need to do that day can be a very good way of not only getting them done but of preventing yourself doing all the other pointless things you do each day. If you every day you can achieve five important things, rather than completing parts of ten different things, you will be more productive.

Never multitask

I personally consider it nothing but a buzzword since I stopped doing it. Doing more than one things at a time always leads to you being unorganised, it also leads to stress. Simple fact is if you want to really keep track of what you are doing, you can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Therefore any schedule or list that you make to organise your activities, never include and item on either that is two separate things.

6 Ways To Boost Productivity Levels

Many people like to keep themselves busy; it seems to be the perfect excuse to not get a whole lot done each day. While there are many jobs that, such an attitude will continue to get you paid, there are very few where it will lead to you progressing up the career ladder. And if you happen to be in self employment or working on any sort of freelance basis, then you are wasting nobodies time but your own. Here are my top six ways to improve your productivity while working plus one way to be more productive in your regular life.

Remove Distractions

Distractions are one of the key killers of productivity levels. From background noise to constant interruptions, if you wish to really increase your productivity levels you need a space where you are free to work. If you are required to work in a noise environment, where ear plugs. If you are required to work around co workers, inform them that you do not like being interrupted. If you are able to do any part of your job at home, set up a small working area where you can have some peace and quite.

Remove non productive activities

There are many things that we do on a daily basis that keep us busy but don’t actually involve us getting anything of value done. Take a note of the ten activities that you do most often throughout your working week and assess which of them actually leads to results. One of the best examples is starting each day by checking your emails. Spam actually doesn’t waste as much time as you would think. The main killer is regular enquiries from co workers and customers that do not benefit you. There is a delete button for a reason.

Timing

Do you ever notice that you are particularly productive at a certain time of the day? This is not in fact your imagination; it is very common to be better at certain things at certain times. Figure out when you get the most done and then do the things that are most time consuming at those times. If you find yourself tired in the evenings do the activities that require the least thought at this time and vice versa.

Eat, sleep and take breaks

Many people think that by sleeping a little less and taking shorter breaks they will get more done, this could not be further from the truth. You need a good nights sleep to be at your best and without adequate breaks your mind simply will not function as effectively as it could. An extra hour in bed and an extra five minutes for your lunch can actually be highly beneficial as well as reducing the risk of you having a heart attack from rushing around all the time.

Do one thing at a time

Multi tasking is a word that people love to throw about the place and brag about but there is actually plenty of research out there that illustrates that people get far less done when they actually do it. Simply concentrate on a single task at a time, complete it and then move on. Constantly bouncing from one thing to another generally provides a lot of room for procrastination and it greatly reduces your ability to effectively concentrate on what you are doing.

Stay off the Internet.

Almost all jobs nowadays involve the use of a computer. And while computers allow tasks to be performed highly efficiently, they also offer endless ways to be distracted. Simply browsing the internet for a couple of minutes isn’t a big deal until you realise you are doing it about ten times a day. Therefore if you have work to do that doesn’t actually require being online, try to do it on a computer that isn’t connected.

Productivity Levels Outside of Work: Do everything in Bulk

Though the financial incentive may not be there, increasing your productivity levels outside of work can leave you with far more time to do what you actually enjoy. One of the easiest ways to free up more of your time is to shop, bank and cook in bulk. Do all of your shopping and banking for each week in a single trip and this will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend queuing and driving about the place. Remember that cooking five meals often requires pretty much the same effort as cooking one.

The Importance of Time Management

Any exam sat is taken against the clock and the majority of work undertaken throughout our lives is only valuable if completed within a deadline. Sadly if you cannot adequately manage your time, you will never get anywhere in life. Many people assume that the key is to increase the amount of time that you spend working but this is in fact not the case at all. Effective time management involves managing exactly what you do with your time so that the limited time available to you allows you to meet and even exceed all your goals. Here are the most important things to remember.

Set a goal for each item in your schedule

Of course the first aspect of time management is ensuring that you have an exact schedule and you stick to it. However, that schedule is useless unless goals are set for each item. You can stay busy all day following a schedule without getting anything done. Therefore each item on your schedule should contain not only a specific time frame but also a particular objective to be achieved within it.

Set a priority for each item in your schedule

It doesn’t matter how good you are at managing your time, you are only human and therefore you will make mistakes and things will occasionally take longer than expected. The key here is not to try to avoid this happening but instead take measures to ensure that its occurrence has the least consequence possible. Therefore set a priority level for all activities within your schedule based upon how important it is that each gets done i.e. how negative the impact is should it not get done. Then simply ensure that your schedule involves achieving the most important objectives first.

Never Procrastinate.

One of the biggest problems with the above step is that you will often find that the highest priority objectives are those that happen to be the most difficult to do. This obviously leads to a very large urge to procrastinate and leave it them until the end of your day. However if you are to effectively manage your time you must never procrastinate. It is a very easy habit to pick up and many people remain hopeless procrastinators for large portions of their life.

Simple rule is that if something has a priority and it can be done now, do it now. Putting things off until later does indeed make now a hell of a lot easier but the same work will still have to be done later and the only difference is that it will be done under pressure as the deadline is closer. Not only that but it will also often lead to that deadline being missed. Avoid procrastination at all costs.

Stay asleep

While living an effectively time managed existence is unlikely to involve getting up at midday, it is also unlikely to be based around four hours of sleep per night. Many people attempt to add a few hours to their day by sleeping less however there is no genuine benefit to this. Gaining additional hours is of no use whatsoever if the result is decreased productivity throughout all hours. We all require different amounts of sleep in order to function, this is a proven fact. If your productivity levels decrease when you get less than eight hours, make sure you get those eight hours.

Take regular breaks

This is another big mistake that people make. In order to maximize the amount of time they have to work, they do not set aside enough time just to relax. Humans cannot continuously concentrate for hours on end without a break. You will just end up daydreaming if you try to work for even five hours straight. Take regular scheduled breaks. Experiment with taking five minutes off every hour. You may find that those five minutes increases the productivity of the other fifty-five by quite a lot.

So in conclusion, my essential point that effective time management is not about increasing the amount of time that you have to work, rather it is about organizing your activities in such a way that you can get what needs to be done, done in the limited time available. Remember you are not a robot and those with effective time management can meet deadlines without acting like one. It is not about buying more time, it’s about being careful about how you spend the time that you have.

Monitor Employee Productivity – The Basics

Monitoring employee productivity is very important. In businesses, general managers, department heads and supervisors are the ones who need to fulfill this role. Though most people think that getting into a position like this would mean more perks and salary;  think again. It would also mean tougher and more challenging responsibilities.

Managers and other high-ranking officers in businesses find it so much easier to manage inventories, facilities, books and even profit margins. The most stressful part of the job would be managing the behavior as well as the performance of their employees. If you have kids, you’ll be able to get the jist of what I am talking. It’s more of like telling your 8-year old not to eat too much candy and find lots of it stashed underneath his bed. Of course, you can’t expect all your employees to just do what you ask them to do. You’re dealing with different people so it’s only safe to assume that not all people are conformists. What you need to do is to understand why they are behaving or acting that way.

Why don’t they perform?

Studies show that there are two general reasons why employees are not doing well on their productivity. It is either they can’t do the job or they don’t want to do it. That’s just it. So it’s either they’re not meant for that kind of work or they are just too stubborn to do the job.

When you think about it, the two reasons are not really different from one another. There are those who think that employees falling under one category should attend a different training or consultation session from the employee falling under the other category. More trainings and consultation sessions won’t cut it. You need to come up with a good way to boost their productivity.

If you have staff members who are low on employee productivity because they are finding it hard to do the job, sooner or later you’ll realize that it’s not you. No matter how many times you ask, demand or even beg them to do better, they just can’t. There are even managers who think that their employees aren’t doing a good job just because they’re lazy. It is high time you realize that in every business or in every department, there will always be “legitimate barriers” that some employees find these very hard or even impossible to overcome. As a result, they can’t complete tasks and meet deadlines. All in all, they just can’t seem to meet your expectations.

If this is the case, there are two important steps you can do to handle the situation. You need to identify these barriers and you need to eliminate them!

How To Identify Them?

To identify barriers that are hindering your employees’ high productivity, you need to talk to the concerned employees and ask them directly if there are things that are making it difficult or impossible for them to not do their jobs well. From their answers you will determine the culprit barriers. Your choices would be physical barriers, wherewithal barriers, time barriers and know-how barriers.

How To Eliminate Them?

Eliminating barriers is always thought of as the tricky part. It’s not. It’s actually easy because once you and your employee have determined the culprit barrier, your employee will have ideas running through his head as to how he should have acted or responded to certain situations. Talk this over and listen to his or her ideas. Give encouragement and set effective solutions. Since this will seem like a hit and miss game then by all means, let them try again when they fail, and recognize and appreciate them when they succeed.

If, on the other hand, you have staff members who are low on productivity because they don’t want to, you also need to go over the root of the problem. Though giving them another chance is your priority and considering replacing them is your last option, you should also think about your high performing employees. Will their behavior affect the behavior of other employees? Sometimes, the only thing you can do is to put your foot forward and take them out. Doing so can stir up other slackers and raise the bar of performance for all other employees.

As a business owner or manager, the best way you can boost employee productivity is by supporting their success. Think of great ways to reward them. Large-sized companies sometime provide 3-day vacation trips to their best employees. For small scale business, its okay if you can’t afford this kind of reward, you can just praise your employee in public or give him a small token of your appreciation such as treating him to dinner or giving him gift certificates. Sooner or later you’ll see that even small gestures of appreciation can go a long way.

5 Activities To Boost Your Self Esteem

As explained in my article on how to gain self confidence, building up your self esteem can be a long and highly introspective process. I do however believe that there are short cuts. Of course they are by no means a permanent solution to low self esteem but they can give you a kick in the right direction. And at times that is all people need. The following five activities are very good at giving an immediate boost to your self esteem levels.

Improve How you Look

The sad fact is we live in a superficial world and regardless of what anyone says we all care about how we look. Though beauty is of course on the inside etc a large part of our self image is based upon how we look. Therefore if you want a quick way to become more confident, improve how you look. There are many ways that this can be done from working out and losing weight to just buying some new clothes and getting a hair cut. Many people with low self esteem will not bother to do these things and it kind of leads to a vicious circle.

Achieve Something

It doesn’t necessarily matter what this one thing is but what I know for sure is that low self esteem feeds off of inactivity and laziness. If you are killing yourself working at something ten hours a day and you know at the end of it you have achieved something than you will feel good about yourself. And generally provided you choose something worthwhile, you will also have the rewards of your work as well as your new found self esteem so it’s kind of a win-win.

Do Something that Scares You

Many people are surprised by just what they are capable of. Very little can boost your self esteem more than taking on something that you have always been afraid to do and then finding out that you are actually more than capable of doing it. This could be asking somebody out on a date, confronting somebody that is always putting you down or just making some form of change in your life that you have been putting off. You may be surprised by the results.

Fake It

Though this cannot go on forever with people that know you well as they will eventually see through it, it can work with people you don’t know or won’t know for long periods of time. Faking confidence is actually pretty straight forward. With the right body language and the right amount of eye contact nobody need know that you are an insecure person. Often just seeing that you can give this impression of yourself can offer a massive boost.

Take a Trip Alone

Learning that you are a truly independent person can be very dignifying. Nothing proves independence more than taking a trip short or long alone and realising that you are perfectly fine that way. To realise that you are not dependent on others can also lead to you caring far less what others think which therefore defeats a common symptom of people with low self esteem.

7 Steps To Monitor Employee Productivity

In operating a business, productivity monitoring plays a very crucial and essential role. It is from the output of employees that business owners can calculate profits as well as returns on investment.

Business owners should understand the importance of the early stages of data collection. This is where you need to set and re-examine attainable goals with your staff members. In doing so, you can talk about ways or methods you can use to meet these goals. Of course, after the planning and consultation period, productivity reports should be delivered to you at a set period of time. Depending on the type or the size of your business, productivity monitoring reports can be submitted daily, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, quarterly and/or annually. As mentioned, base this on what you’ve discussed on planning meetings with your staff members.

Through these productivity reports you’ll be able to see and analyze if there are problems in your business or if business productivity seems to be creating good returns of investment. The statistics gathered over a long period of time would indicate if there are situations or concerns you may need to address.

Before you do anything else in your business, planning is the key element you need to focus on. It is from this stage that the success or failure of a business is molded. Here is a short guide to help you succeed in your planning stage:

Step 1 – Set productivity measures you want to track.

Keep in mind that in a business, there are different departments. This means, in each department, different work is done so output should also be different. So if you want to measure productivity, you need to use different measures as well. Think of it this way – for customer service personnel, can you measure their productivity just by the number of calls they take? Of course not. You measure their productivity by the number of satisfied customers they were able to address or help. This also goes for sales agents, their productivity would be based on their closed deals.

Step 2 – Come up with effective methods to gather data.

If you are running a big business, you will have a hard time monitoring your staff if you don’t set effective methods. Large firms use computers and Internet access to generate and log reports. As for small businesses, even manual methods would do. If you’re not familiar with the manual method, research about the use of “tick sheets” or other related methods.

Step 3 – Gather data in a timeframe that can fit your needs.

As mentioned earlier, whether you prefer daily reports, weekly reports or monthly reports, these reports should be useful in keeping you abreast on your staffs productivity. Consider the possibility of mid-month changes on directives, quotas or even on staffing.

Step 4 – Use a spreadsheet.

A spreadsheet is very useful in saving collected data. It is also more convenient than writing things down because it is customizable and interactivity is possible. It also features different tabs you can use for a broader database. Some of the most used spreadsheets are Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc and Mac Numbers.

Step 5 – Monitor productivity monitoring data.

If you collect reports daily, weekly or monthly, make sure you check on them and you keep tabs. It is in monitoring productivity that you can determine if one of your departments is succeeding or failing in their tasks.

Step 6 – Find effective ways to address low productivity.

Once you analyze and make a conclusion about the reports you’ve been receiving, make sure you take time to focus on low productivity. Find ways to resolve the matter. You can talk it over with your department heads. Ask them for insights and observations. This will help you understand productivity problems and come up with ways to address them. Common ways to address low productivity are disciplinary actions and warnings.

Step 7 – Find ways to reward low productivity.

One way to keep your staff members or employees motivated, especially if they’re showing high productivity is to reward them. You don’t need to be extravagant in doing so. A simple praise would be highly appreciated.

Through productivity monitoring reports you can check on your staff or employees productivity. This way, you’ll know if there are issues or concerns that you need to address or work on, especially if these are already affecting your business’ profits and returns of investment. On the other hand, this is also a good way to praise or employees that are doing well or exceeding in their tasks.

How To Change Your Life For The Better

To really change your life takes only one thing and that’s courage. Courage cannot be taught in an article. I think it is found when you realise just how far away your life is from what you want it to be. The reason that courage is needed in order to change your life is that often to improve your life you have to lose some parts of it that are reasonably alright. Letting go of mediocrity can be a difficult thing when the other option is an unknown abyss of possible sadness. While many people allow the terror of the unknown to prevent them from changing their lives, there are those that actually do transform their lives beyond recognition. They simply pick out the things that make them unhappy and then they throw them away. I will now list the three biggest changes that you can make.

Quit your job

Considering your job takes up a good forty hours of your week one of the biggest changes you can make is simply to quit and find something new. Of course this can be a terrifying prospect with endless questions and no clear answers. However if you are not fulfilled by your current career and if you are not on the road to one that will fulfil you, do you really have anything to lose? The best question to ask in order to help you build up the courage is simply whether you want to still be working there in five years.

If the answer is no, you really need to do something about it.

Break up with your partner

Unfortunately in order to find a relationship that genuinely makes you happy, you need to lose the one that makes you comfortable. Many unhappy marriages are built upon this premise and it is a very easy trap to fall into. Five years into a relationship things are comfortable things are easy and the singles world from long ago sounds like a terrifying abyss of awkwardness, loneliness and rejection. However, if you are not happy in your current relationship, the alternative is mediocrity and you need to ask whether you deserve better than that.

Hit the Road

In many ways there is no bigger change that you can make. To be somewhere completely new, away from everything and every one you know can be a shock to the system. It can be a terrifying but exciting prospect and almost the definition of endless opportunities. The world is a big place and if the small space that you call home is grey and drab, its important to remember that there are jungles both urban and natural that can be found and explored. Any complicated relationships, any routes that you have driven thousands of times, any pubs you hate, they can all disappear for the price of a plane ticket.

Of course there are those that are reasonably happy with their job, relationship and location but would just like things to be different and hopefully better. If your decision not to quit your job or end a relationship is not based upon fear than by all likelihood it’s the right move and there are other less destructive things that you can do to change your life. If you generally spend every night on front of the television, get the cable cut off for a few weeks. If you are a heavy drinker, quit for a while. We all get bored by routine. By finding the aspects of our lives that are the most routine and changing them, we can in a small way change our life for the better. However, if those routine things are removed and you are still desperately unhappy, perhaps you need to scan back up to the larger life changes that can be made. They are more difficult but the rewards are not even comparable.