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Keep It Positive: How to Use a Bad Experience to Your Advantage in the Interview

I had a student this past semester whose student teaching experience almost drove her away from wanting to teach. Her cooperating teacher was retiring at the end of the year and had already "checked out" from teaching. She was completely on her own in the classroom. She gave serious thought to not seeking a teaching position at graduation, but after some encouragement from others, finally decided to give it a try. She ended up getting hired at the first job she applied for. Why? She was able to take her bad student teaching experience and put a positive spin on it. In the interview she told the principal how she was on her own in the classroom but learned quickly to be independent and to seek out others for support. She also talked about being determined not to fail and making sure that she didn't take out her frustration on her students. Not once did she go negative about the experience! The principal was so impressed by this positive attitude that she was offered the job that day.

The key is to remain positive in the interview even when having to discuss situations or experiences that weren't ideal. Put a positive spin on it--talk about what you learned from it and how it helped you to grow as a teacher.

Pamela Folger
Director, Career Center
Millikin University
Decatur, Illinois

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