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Friday, July 17, 2015

Primary Assistant Interview Questions

A Helpful Bank of Interview Questions

I completed my last post about training a new classroom assistant and then, through social media, noticed that teachers were looking for interview questions.  So, here are a few!

  • What is your educational background?
  • What is your experience working with children?
  • What do you enjoy the most about working with young children?
  • What do you enjoy the least about working with young children?
  • What does child discipline look like to you?
  • Tell me about a child you have worked with that inspired you.
  • Tell me about a child that you have worked with that has challenged you.
  • Are you familiar with the Montessori Method?
  • What kind of learner are you? Visual, auditory, or kinesthetic
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Explain how comfortable you are working in a team and what skills you bring to the team.
  • If a problem arises in your team, what do you typically do?
  • If a problem arises with your supervisor, what do you typically do?
  • What kind of relationship do you want to have with a supervisor?
  • Are you comfortable taking direction from a supervisor?
  • What are your hobbies/what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
  • What is your three year plan? 
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Your Glorious Assistant

More fondly: your classroom wing-woman, your right-hand ma’am, and at times your sanity saver! *

While I was in Montessori teacher training, I was my mentor teacher’s assistant.  I recall the first two days of sitting and observing the environment in full-swing.  My reaction was, “O.M.G.  How does this work?  How do I do this???”  I try to bring this feeling back when I train a new assistant.  Our classrooms are so complex and our assistants are absolutely critical!  I hope that this blog post could give some ideas on how to get training started, or how to build an even more stellar relationship with the assistant you have!

Training a Brand New Assistant

·         Before they start, provide your new assistant with as much easily digestible Montessori theory as possible (this meaning basic Montessori theory and principles). 

·         You could refer to a solid Montessori website like to enhance the information you are providing.

·         Allow them to observe two full days in your classroom before they jump-in.  This will give them a good view of the rhythm of the work cycle, how arrival/lunch/dismissal works, and what behaviors to expect from the children.

·         Spend time on educating your new assistant with State Health Department rules and regulations for your child care setting. (If you are licensed by Childcare licensure, include those rules as well and where to find them.)

·         Explain about and create a daily schedule.  This is key!  It really takes the guesswork out of what you are expecting of them and gives a guideline of the day.  I have an example below:
Determine What You Need From Your Instructional Assistant
 Every teacher and class is different, so this next part can give you some specific ideas.  Your assistant has to know what you need of her.  You can provide a list (takes the mystery out of your expectations) or instruct as you go.
·         Help children prepare snack
·         Assist a child when asked
·         If necessary, remind the child to complete an activity before putting it away
·         Offer sound games
·         Play distance games with the children with the appropriate sensorial work, language nomenclature, or maps (you have to train on how and why we do this)
·         Play name games with the maps, geometric solids, or geometry cabinet
·         Do dictation for the moveable alphabet
·         Check student work
·         Protect the teacher’s lessons
·         Redirect children (provide a clipboard with work choices that can be offered to each individual child)
·         Reinforce the grace and courtesy of how to interrupt, observe, ask for help, pushing in chairs, respecting the materials, and respecting each other
·         Help with lunch setup and cleanup
·         Replenishing materials at the end of the day
·         Guiding children in the restoring of the environment
·         Listening to children read or reading to the children
·         Taking children for walks in the garden (if you have one)
·         Help prepare materials
·         These are just a few of the many ways your assistant can enrich the class!
Honoring Your Assistant
The first day in the fall that your assistant is out sick is the day you will realize what a blessing she is to you and the class!  Our work is not easy so please be mindful to make sure they feel appreciated.  Be as patient with your new trainee as you would be with a new student.  They have a lot to learn!!  Communication is critical in the beginning.  It will take time, but if your communication is strong in the beginning, and you provide constructive criticism, you take the mystery out of how our special classrooms work.  Encourage them to ask questions about the children, materials, and theory. This builds trust and confidence.  Also, I used to end each day thanking my assistant for her work.  Little cards or morning goodies go a long way in showing your special assistant how special they really are.
*(Please excuse the references to a primary classroom assistant being only a woman, I have only had female assistants, but that doesn’t mean that a man couldn’t do the job well too!)
On a side-note, I need to give a shout-out and big thank you to my acting editor Mary!