Teacher Interview Question: Describe How You Plan your Lessons

Excerpt from Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching and Finding a Job:

In asking this question, hiring principals are trying to find out how you approach certain elements during your lesson planning, including learning objectives, standards, assessments, activities, special accommodations, and reflection. Effective lesson planning begins with establishing desired learning outcomes or goals for the students. These learning outcomes should be based on “higher order thinking.” Familiarize yourself Dr. Bloom’s work on the categories of student thinking, from the lower order thinking skills (knowledge, comprehension, and application) to the higher order thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). Thoroughly review the Bloom’s example below. The example includes verb outcomes, coupled with categories of thinking (Krumme, 2005). This information will assist you in your lesson planning and in answering this interview question.

Bloom’s Lower Order Thinking

1. Knowledge is remembering appropriate, previously learned information. This level of thinking is illustrated by students defining, describing, enumerating, identifying, labeling, listing, matching, naming, reading, recording, reproducing, selecting, stating, and/or viewing.

2. Comprehension is the understanding of the meaning of informational materials. This level of thinking is illustrated by students classifying, citing, converting, describing, discussing, estimating, explaining, generalizing, giving examples, making sense out of, paraphrasing, summarizing, tracing, and/or understanding.

3. Application is the use of previously learned information in new and concrete situations to solve problems that have single or best answers. This level of thinking is illustrated by students acting, administering, articulating, assessing, charting, collecting, computing, constructing, contributing, controlling, determining, developing, discovering, establishing, extending, implementing, including, informing, instructing, participating, predicting, preparing, preserving, producing, projecting, providing, relating, reporting, showing, solving, teaching, transferring, using, and/or utilizing.

Bloom’s Higher Order Thinking

4. Analysis is the breaking down of information into its component parts, examining the information to develop conclusions, making inferences, and/or finding evidence to support generalizations. This level of thinking is illustrated by students correlating, diagramming, differentiating, discriminating, distinguishing, focusing, illustrating, inferring, limiting, outlining, pointing out, prioritizing, recognizing, separating, and/or subdividing.

5. Synthesis is creating a new product using prior knowledge and skills. This level of thinking is illustrated by students adapting, anticipating, categorizing, collaborating, combining, communicating, comparing, compiling, composing, contrasting, creating, designing, devising, expressing, facilitating, formulating, generating, incorporating, individualizing, initiating, integrating, intervening, modeling, modifying, negotiating, planning, progressing, rearranging, reconstructing, reinforcing, reorganizing, revising, structuring, substituting, and/or validating.

6. Evaluation is determining value and providing a rationale for the response. This level of thinking is illustrated by students appraising, comparing and contrasting, concluding, criticizing, critiquing, deciding, defending, interpreting, judging, justifying, reframing, and/or supporting.

Next in your lesson planning process, describe how these learning outcomes connect to the curriculum benchmarks, and district and state standards. After that, stress the importance of assessment in determining if the students have met the stated learning outcomes. Use the outcome-illustrating verbs (above), from Bloom’s Taxonomy, to evaluate the students’ learning. Your response should also show how effective teachers use a wide variety of assessment techniques, and use those assessments to give valuable feedback to their students and to encourage their improvement. Assessment is much more than paper tests and final “no more chances” tests.

Once you have shown how you establish learning objectives and assessments, hiring principals will want to know how you will structure lesson activities to meet the students’ learning needs. Briefly, provide a few examples of best-practice instruction you would use, e.g. learning stations, or jigsaw approach. Explain how you would incorporate accommodations for ELL and special education students. Lastly, describe how you will reflect on the effectiveness of the lesson and what steps you will take to improve it.