Why Did You Decide to Become a Teacher?

High school teacher calling on student in classroom
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A question about why you chose to become a teacher will no doubt be on your interviewer's list. Most likely, every person interviewed for a teaching position will have a different answer to this question. That's to be expected as your career path is a personal one.

Tips for Answering This Question 

As with any interview question, it'll be easier to respond to this interview question if you prepare beforehand.

That way, you won't feel on the spot when this question comes up. Take some time to consider why you gravitated toward teaching.  

Here are some strategies for framing your response: 

Be honest. What's driving you to become a teacher? One of the reasons interviewers ask this question is to get a sense of your motivations. Be genuine and thoughtful in discussing the considerations that led you to this profession. 

Give examples or tell stories. Were you inspired by a teacher of your own? Did you read a story in the news that made you realize how big an impact a good teacher could have? Incorporating anecdotes or memories in your answer may make it more powerful. 

One thing to avoid in your response: Do not frame your answer to this question around job benefits (such as short days or summer vacation). That may be a motivating factor, but it will not make you appear dedicated, and won't reflect well on you as a candidate.

 

Reasons to Become a Teacher

Many teachers discover that their love of children draws them to teaching, or that their own love of learning makes them passionate about teaching.

Some teachers enter the profession because they're eager to make a difference — people tend to remember their teachers for an entire lifetime, long after school is over.

 

Others are inspired by a teacher earlier in their education who had a positive impact on them. A teacher may be seen as a leader, a mentor, or even a surrogate parental figure.

Describing a Favorite Teacher

This might naturally lead to a related interview question about the best teacher you ever had, or who your favorite teacher was and why. This question addresses more than just your chosen career; it also shines a light on how you function as an employer since a teacher is essentially the first boss or manager of your work, albeit in an academic environment.

Did you respect your teacher because she was patient and tolerant or perhaps because she took the time to offer you extra help? The interviewer will be interested in your explanation as to which traits you admired in your teacher because it lends insight into what kind of management style you prefer and what approach enables you to thrive.

No one ever forgets a meaningful teacher who had an impact on their life. This is a rather personal question and so your answer should be personal too. This is also a chance to indirectly slip in some positive qualities and strengths of your own that you possess as a result of this teacher's guidance.

Again, consider providing a personal anecdote. Share stories of how you made a difference to a child in a classroom or how you successfully taught a challenging lesson as a result of what you learned from that teacher. Here's an example:

The best teacher I ever had was my history teacher in high school. I preferred English and science to history, but she was able to see past the dates and facts and make the subject come to life beyond the basic curriculum. For instance, we looked through old newspaper articles about historical events and then wrote our own blogs as if we were journalists living during that time. I was inspired by her unconventional techniques and I strive to bring the same passion for innovative ways to learn to my classroom.  

Additional Examples of Best Answers

  • The assistant principal of my high school was a real inspiration to me, and she is one of the major reasons I pursued a teaching career. Her ability to guide students, her fairness, and her sense of justice made me aspire to bring these things to my own classroom.
     
  • While I was student teaching, I had the opportunity to take a student aside to help him with a particularly difficult math concept that he was having trouble understanding. When I was able to show him a different way to approach the problem, and he 'got it', I knew that I had chosen the right field!

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