Help! ... Interview on Monday 6/30

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by pontiac8411, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. pontiac8411

    pontiac8411 Rookie

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    I have an interview for an autism teacher position with my state's autism program monday. This is the job of my dreams. I am so interested in autism and would love to work with these kids. I have been reading everything i can get my hands on about autism for the past two weeks. Anyway, I met with them at a job fair and they said they provide on the job training ( so i figure they don't expect me to know anything too specific). Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone had been on an interview for a position like this and what types of questions did they ask? Thanks.
     
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  3. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I would think they may want to know if you have a good idea of the autistic spectrum . Do you have any sort of hands on experience ( ABA training?). Do you know anything about activity schedules. Check out their philosophy.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Tenured

    Tenured Rookie

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    honestly, you are applying for a position nobody else wants. Probably the questions you will get are about your certifications (if you are highly qualified), if you will coach anything/ do bus duty / yearbook or something like that, and if you want the job.
     
  5. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    I wouldn't specifically say that you are applying for a job that nobody wants, nor would I go into the interview with that attitude. I happen to teach at a private school for kids with autism and it was a job I had been seeking for quite some time. I am qualified (TEACCH trained with ABA experience as well) and have 2 years of teaching experience and 6 years of classroom experience with kids with autism. I had a heck of a time getting a job! While it isn't the "most sought after" position in teaching, there ARE people out there who have a passion for it. You saying that it's your dream job definitely shows me that you have a passion for it. It's a challenge. A true challenge. I go home exhausted every night! But, I love every second of it. These kids are amazing. They're bright kids and no one gives them a chance. I would say that you might want to read up on visual schedules, behavior techniques - as someone else mentioned, read about their philosophy. I know that on our school website, the intro page tells you about all of the techniques, methods, etc. that we integrate into our daily schedules with the kids.

    Do you have any experience with children? Children with special needs? Autism? These would all be things that you can work into your interview. If you don't have experience, why is this your dream? What is it that draws you to this position? Come up with answers to these types of questions.

    Also consider that an autism position usually requires someone who is a team player - there are SO many people involved in the education of students with special needs. OT, PT, Adapted PE, Music Therapy, Speech, Community Skills, Behavior Therapists, assistants in the classroom, etc. I would highlight some key skills that show you are a good leader but also a good team player (any experiences that might prove this, college activities, awards you may have won for leadership, teams, etc.)

    Technology skills are a must. Whether you have them or you lack them - highlight this as something you are either willing to work on, or have an interest in, or do really well with. The latest technology is KEY in teaching kids with autism (assistive technology, computer games, making visuals, behavior charts, collecting data, graphing data, etc.)

    Most of all, just show your enthusiasm. Be yourself. You can TEACH someone how to write an IEP, but you can't TEACH someone how to love children with autism. (You'll also notice that I'm using "child first" language - which most schools and school districts appreciate. Meaning, that the child is a child first, with a disability, instead of a disability first [autistic child].)

    At Borders or Barnes and Noble, there is a teaching/parenting/special needs section and there are many books that have information about special classrooms for children with autism and the best way to set them up. Depending on what methods your program will be using, I would just be basically knowledgeable on different ideas (TEACCH Structured Teaching, Behavior Modification, ABA, Discrete Trial Instruction, Natural Environment Training, Incidental Teaching, and more). These all might be things you're familiar with - but it's helpful to be aware of some of the terms that may be thrown (or may not be!) at you.

    Be sure to write down a list of questions for them - this is a list that I used when I had my interviews for autism programs. You can pick and choose, get ideas, or just make your own list. But, it always looks professional for you to have questions prepared for them. At the end of the interview, if they don't ask you, you can bring it up. Say something like, "I had a few questions that I wanted to ask you about your program/school/class, would you mind?" They will definitely say "no! go right ahead." This makes it very apparent that not only are they interviewing YOU to see if you are a good fit for them, but you are interviewing them to be sure they are a good fit for you.

    1. What is the school policy/protocol to follow if a student is not successful with the programming in place?
    -Give scenario; a student begins to demonstrate aggressive behaviors, achievement level declines, attendance irregularities, and such.
    2. How are classes determined? Is more weight given to age, functioning level, or abilities?
    3. What freedom do teachers have in implementing other strategies within the classroom, that are peer-reviewed and researched based?
    4. How are aggressive and violent behaviors addresses? CPI or other method? Are teachers trained in crisis prevention, de-escalation, and restraint techniques for students with these types of behaviors? -examples; spitting on other students/staff faces, hitting, throwing, kicking, head-banging, property destruction that could result in injury, and so forth.
    5. I prefer daily communication logs to correspond with parents, what is the standard/recommended procedure for school/home communication? Is there a format that I come up with or is there a school/center protocol that is followed?
    6. How are staff issues handled? Is there an open door policy with administrators, or is it more formal?
    7. Is there an appraisal system used with teachers? If so, what does it entail?
    8. What is the student to staff ratio in the classroom that I am applying for?

    Of course, about half of these questions will likely be answered in your initial research or during your interview. I ended up asking about 3-4 of these questions because they had already covered the answers for the rest of them.


    Good luck! Relax and have fun. Let us know how it goes!
     
  6. pontiac8411

    pontiac8411 Rookie

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    i don't have experience with children with autism, but i have taken classes in ABA and am spec ed certified. I took the ABA class a while ago, so i am gonna brush up on that. Thank you all for your help.
     
  7. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Good Luck pontiac I will be thinking about you on Monday :) Keep us posted
     
  8. Tenured

    Tenured Rookie

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    just because nobody wants it and I say that, isn't a reason to get mad.

    Simple fact is, nobody (or I guess I should really say, very few) want that job. The competition for a mainstream social studies job is a lot greater than a SPED job

    you seem to think that I am criticizing the autistic student.
     
  9. positiveautism

    positiveautism Comrade

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    Jun 28, 2008

    teachersk gave some great advice! I can't think of much to add. As has been said, just be flexible, value collaboration and working as a team, have a positive vision for the students' futures and an enthusiasm for the job.

    pontiac, I have an Autism website with a bunch of free articles and printable materials if you're interested in reading up on it or using them in the classroom. http://www.positivelyautism.com/

    Good luck, I'm sure you'll do great at the interview!

    teachersk, I'm also from Texas and I'm curious which school you work at. You can PM me if you want to. A list of a few autism schools in your area would be helpful if you don't want to be specific. Or is there a list of the Autism schools in Texas somewhere? Thanks!
     
  10. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Teachsk, gave you a lot of great advice.
     
  11. Ghost

    Ghost Habitué

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    Jun 29, 2008

    I absolutely LOVED my autism class! I'll miss my babies (position eliminated). They were so much fun to try to figure out. I agree that ABA, PECS, and sensory integration were the biggies.

    Best of luck on your interview!!:up:
     
  12. Tenured

    Tenured Rookie

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    no problems with pullout sped, problem is, noone wants to teach it, or rather, it has less competition for each position
     
  13. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Good luck Pontiac! You have gotten some really great advice, I hope you get your dream job. Please write tomorrow and let us know how it goes!
     
  14. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    I've not been interviewed for such a position, but I have been part of a group conducting such interviews. For whatever it may be worth:

    Interviews were conducted by a group that included the principal, two teachers from the school (one special ed, one general ed), the school's OT/PT guy, one parent, and one consultant. Applications had already been pre-screened to eliminate people who were not qualified, etc. The principal did the introductions, and applicants were asked to tell us about themselves. Most of the applicants had little actual experience; the interview group paid a lot of attention to how they phrased this. Applicants who acknowledged their lack of experience while bringing attention to their strengths seemed to be rated higher.

    Then the questions began. Aside from asking and evaluating general questions, each person asked at least one or two questions relating to their area of expertise/interest.

    Questions asked included information about past experience with students, with students with special needs, with students w/ASD. A lot of attention was devoted to questions about applicants' experience with multi-disciplinary and IEP teams. Applicants were asked to discuss the pros and cons of various approaches such as TEACHH and ABA, and about their thoughts on classroom management. Applicants were provided actual data on students and asked for thoughts on IEP planning, and on adapting sample lessons for the students. Several applicants were surprised when asked about their thoughts on planning for transitions and long-term outcomes, on issues relating to instruction in self-advocacy, and their thoughts on alternative communications. The principal surprised me by asking the names of the authors of the most recent autism-related books they'd read, and their thoughts on what those authors said.

    Good luck on your interview!
     
  15. Kangaroo22

    Kangaroo22 Virtuoso

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    I just wanted to say good luck with your interview tomorrow!
     
  16. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Good luck! And keep us updated.
     
  17. pontiac8411

    pontiac8411 Rookie

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    How did you become TEACCH and ABA trained. If i dont get it this time, i am still going to try to keep learning and training to get it next time.
     
  18. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Good luck on your interview today!''

    TEACCH and ABA training may be offered through your school district or once hired you may get notices of these workshops being offered.
     
  19. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    You can also look for trainings at various non profit developmental disability service agencies. I agree that training will most likely be given on the job and offered through workshops..

    How did it go?
     
  20. pontiac8411

    pontiac8411 Rookie

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    Well, I thought i was all prepared for the interview, but it did not go so well. They asked me questions much too specific for someone with my experience to answer. The principal seemed a bit rude when i could not supply the answer he wanted (he gave a very obvious look of disgust and a few snippy comments were thrown my way) I knew all of my theories/interventions, all about autistic kids, had the drive and passion to help kids, but i guess it was not meant to be. The principal said he will have an answer by Wednesday, but i just have a really strong feeling that i did not get it :( Some of the time this field is discouraging. You need experience to get a job, but you cannot get the experience unless someone hires you! Oh well, I am still waiting for call backs from three other positions (fingers crossed). Hopefully I'll get the inclusion position at a school in my town that i interviewed for last Thursday (save on gas :)) Just trying to keep my heart and chin up! Que Sera, Sera!
     
  21. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I'm sorry you didn't think it went well. You never know what principals are thinking so you might still have a shot at this job. Good luck!
     
  22. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    Experience working with people w/ASD or any other developmental disability (or combination) is available as close as your nearest agency that provides services to people with developmental disabilities. In all my years in the field, I've never seen an agency pass up a qualified teacher as an employee if there was a position open--and if nothing else, you could always volunteer until a position opened up.

    Parents are constantly seeking people to work in ABA programs with their kids, and will almost always provide training as part of the package.
     
  23. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    My advice to you would be to keep on trying and keep a good, positive attitude while you try. I know that there is a position out there that will be perfect for you. If it doesn't feel like a good match (principal being snippy, rude, etc.) - then it's not headed on the road to enjoyment and success for your teaching career.

    I had to apply to many many positions when I was seeking a job. I want to say I applied to at least 15 school districts. I was even applying to districts that were up to an hour away from me! In TX! Where public schools are ranked 47th! [This was before the GAS SPIKE, though.] At any rate, I remember coming home from some of the interviews like, "yick. That was TOTALLY not it." Not just they didn't like me, but I didn't like them! I didn't get a good vibe from it. I remember it being very frustrating and upsetting - knowing that I needed experience to get a job, but that no one would give me a job to get that experience! It's a killer catch-22. But, I promise, the right thing will fall into place. Even if it's a "gateway" job to let you know that this is a school you'd like to continue working at, but in a different classroom, or a district that you really like.

    There was one job that I applied for, was interviewed, and was chosen as one of the final two candidates for the position. It was for a self-contained classroom of students with mental retardation, emotional disabilities, and autism. It was quite a mix of kids. I *thought* I was up for the challenge. They brought both the other candidate and myself in for two days to observe us working with the kids, interacting with the staff, etc. - so they could make their decision (very awkward having my "competition" in the same room as me.) Anyhow, I totally thought I had it. The principal called and left a voicemail on my cellphone saying that they had selected the other candidate. The classroom was CRAZY and my fiance kept joking that they probably picked the other lady because they liked me too much to put me in that room.

    But, get this-- I heard through the grapevine that the teacher had her NOSE BROKEN by one of the students in November, and she quit in December. WOW!

    To make this wordy, off-topic post, get back on topic.... I had several interviews before one of them *just* clicked. It was my position in a self-contained classroom of kids with moderate/severe disabilities (mainly autism, but not labeled an autism classroom). They were in the process of moving a teacher out of the classroom that clearly did not have an interest in being there. The kids watched TV and did worksheets all day. There were no supplies, no materials, nothing. The principal, however, was very optimistic that getting the right person with the right personality would be just what the school needed. The principal was very friendly, the interview was laid back, the school was cheery and bright... it just felt perfect. They called and offered me the job 20 minutes after I left. I am so glad that I "held out" and didn't end up somewhere that I wouldn't have fit in. The self-contained classroom led me to have the experience I needed to get my job at the private autism school where I currently teach.

    HANG IN THERE, your job will find you!
     
  24. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    I can't be any help although I am in school to teach special needs. I just wanted to say congrats and I pray that you get the job! :)
     
  25. Suchi

    Suchi Rookie

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    Hey JustJim................which school are you talking about.....name of authors???!!!!..............the interviews seem to be so tough,....:eek::confused:
    Suchi
     
  26. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    Suchi, I apologize for the delay in replying; I've been sidetracked with a new job (one of those "it will pay for school" jobs).

    Anyhow, the school was one that has decided to make a serious commitment to meeting the needs of students with various disabilities, particularly including long-term outcomes. This interview wasn't that bad, but some of the others scared me! The questions were designed to see how the applicants would fit in with the current team. The principal's question surprised me because I'd not been aware that she was trying to follow the literature.

    Let's use that question as an example. The approaches suggested in the literature on teaching students w/ASD has changed a lot over the past two or three decades. It can be serious work to try to keep up with the literature. Many candidates for positions like this have limited exposure to professional literature, and won't be able to name any author or book--which might be a clue that they might not be a good match for the school.

    Similarly, the questions about TEACCH and ABA weren't so much to understand the applicant's experience as to make sure they've actually been exposed to both approaches.
     
  27. Suchi

    Suchi Rookie

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    Thank you JustJim.......hmmm, I agree with the point to be constantly in touch with the changing scene in special ed field. i guess reading and more of reading will help us in staying tune with the latest development in our field. By the way, do you know any site which gives latest info about our filed...not only in Autism spectrum, but also in the field of mental retardation.
    thank you once again:2up:
    Suchi :)


     
  28. Teach96

    Teach96 Comrade

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    So do we know how it went? Did you get the job?
     
  29. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    Jul 21, 2008

    I usually work through about a dozen journals online, but get access through my university. If you can't get online access that way you may find it less expensive to periodically (every summer?) drive to a good research university and access all the articles you can find that might be useful. Thumbdrives are a wonderful thing. . . .

    Bookwise, the journal Autism does some good reviews, but not enough and with a UK bias (which is OK, but being in the US I'd prefer a different focus). I've gotten in the habit of reading reviews at Amazon; not perfect, but useful.

    Google news alerts are also useful to keep up on the news.
     

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