Thursday, December 4, 2008

NYC Teaching Fellows interview, quick review...

I know. I know. I've been lazy. I've already had a few people bug me about putting up my thoughts on the NYC Teaching Fellows interview -- especially as it compared with the Teach for America interview. So here goes...

I had my interview this past Tuesday evening. Two things right off the bat: it was a PACKED house, there were easily 75-80 people there; and I like that they had it in the evening (4:30p-10p) rather than in the middle of the day. Their program is obviously geared towards people with jobs, as opposed to TFA, which had their interview mid-day, jobs-be-damned.

Though things were in slightly different orders, the NYCTF interview and the TFA interview, some details aside, were fairly similar (as I expected they would be). So here's a quick run-down of the NYCTF interview and some of the major differences:

  1. They both had multiple-choice quizzes, but the NYCTF quiz was much more math-centric and really required some mathematical/analytical skills, while the TFA quiz was more about answering situational questions about teaching and reading information off of charts/reports. The math on the NYCTF quiz was not difficult math in itself (no calculus, trigonometry, etc) but each question was somewhat involved. I could see someone who has trouble with math having trouble with this quiz. I'm sure a good number of people didn't finish it. It was 23 questions and we had 30 minutes. Oh, and during this first bit, while we were all taking this quiz, 2 mice ran across the room. Good stuff. I think they might've been part of the interview process. 8)
  2. NYCTF then had a 1 page "sample essay" by a 6th grader. You had 10 minutes to go through and mark up all the mistakes, focusing on spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  3. We then split up into smaller groups and did our lesson plans. This part was almost exactly the same as in the TFA interview. While basic humility prevents me from commenting on my own performance, I will say that most of the lessons in my group sucked donkey balls. One or two were decent, the rest ranged from awful to God awful. I spoke with a few other people in other groups and this wasn't the case across the board. Possibly I got stuck in a sucky group.
  4. Then, just as in TFA, we had a group discussion based on a short reading that described a situation in a school. The interviewers did not participate in the conversation, but overlooked, jotting down notes, and seeing how people in the group interacted. I believe they were less concerned with the solutions that the group came up with and moreso with how each person interacted with the group: did one person hog all the air? did someone not speak at all? could people agree and disagree civily, etc. This was similar to the group discussion we had with TFA -- though I felt here, it was a little less organized.
  5. We then had to write a short (1-page or so) essay, pretending we were writing a letter to our principal about some issues. This wasn't far off of the written essay we had to do for TFA.
  6. Then we had our 1-on-1 interviews. Some big differences. TFA 1-on-1s were 45-55 minutes long, these were 20 minutes, in-and-out. The TFA interviews were much more conversational, in-depth, and probing. In this interview, the interviewer was heads-down, rapid-fire Q&A, very impersonal. Very difficult to get and read on how the interivew went.

After being wait-listed with TFA, I'm hesitant to guess at how I did at the NYCTF interview. But I think I did well. I think my lesson plan was solid. I'm unsure how the 1-on-1 went, but, again, I think I did ok.

At this point, all I can do is wait.

I was told that we'd hear back from NYCTF around mid-Jan, so maybe Jan 15th? And I'll be hearing back from TFA on Jan 20th. So I have about 7 weeks of sitting around with my thumb up my bum.

If anyone has any specific questions about either of the interviews, just shoot me a note.


Anonymous said...

Thank for the update. Sounds like it went well. Do you think you favor one over the other (Tfa vs nyctf?) What kinds of questions did they ask you on the interview? Was there a lot of people there interviewing that lost there jobs?
Ithink this blog is great, very helpful for those going through the process of alternative routes to teach.

Anonymous said...

NYCTF didn't have the quiz or the 6th grade essay last summer. Just the group discussion and the letter. I've been at the interview event twice and it's been the same topic with small variations.

I wish you get accepted but with this economic crisis you never know. I'm posting a link for you from a friend's blog. The UFT will try to prevent new teachers from programs like the NYCTF from getting fired.
Do you know if TFA place their corps at an assigned school or do they have to search for their own job like the fellows?

Bronx2020 said...

All the interview questions were very much focused on how you would deal with situations, your organizational skills, and your ability to deal with conflict and disagreements at work. To be honest, the 1-on-1s were so rapid-fire that I don't quite recall all of the questions.

I'm not sure which I'm leaning towards (NYCTF or TFA), though, honestly, who knows if I'll get into either the way things are looking with the economy and budget cuts and such. Were I to get into both, I think I might be leaning SLIGHTLY towards the Teaching Fellows.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a great blog... do you think you could give me more information about the interview process? Do you remember the types of questions they asked you in the 1-on-1 ?

klire said...

Thanks for writing such a thorough post & helping us new interviewees!

I have a few questions I'm hoping you can answer:

1.Was the 1-on-1 interview completely situational?
- ie: "OK, Charlie is disruptive during class, saying that he is not going to answer your questions. What do you do"
or "Sandy's mother is dissatisfied with the amount of personal attention you give her child when she asks you for help. How do you approach this problem?"
or "How would you approach teaching children with strong attention deficit problems?"

2. Also, what are the questions for the written essay like, specifically? Children - parent problem scenarios, or fellow teacher scenarios, or just conflict resolution scenarios in general?

Thank you in advance for your help!

Bronx2020 said...

The examples you give are very much along the lines of many of the questions asked in the 1-on-1. Very spot on. Timmy doesn't do his homework, role play your conversation with him, etc.

They also touch on how you deal with organization, conflict, and working with others -- usually trying to bring in previous work experience.

The written essay, as I said was suppose to be a letter to our principal -- asking for permission to do something, I forget exactly.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

hi. thanks so much for the informative post. could you say a little more about the lesson plan you did. any details would be really helpful. thanks.h

CPG said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. I was a Teaching Fellow (cohort 6), and while our interview was intense, it was not even close to the intense experience you described. I was an instructor in the summer bootcamp for Bronx Fellows. You sound like you'd make a good addition to the program. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am wondering what age group does your lesson plan have to cater to? do you get a choice or do they tell you the day of the interview? Thanks.

klire said...

You basically tell them the target group you choose your target group before your mock lesson plan. It can be something extremely simple, as long as you stay under the 5 mins exactly. I made the mistake of wrapping up @ 4:15secs. Forgot that a min actually meant 60sec of time. Watch your timing. Oh yah, after you get accepted, you can choose the date of your interview, but its first come first serve, so the earlier your interview the better! Hope that helps!

Alan said...


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situational interview questions

Tks again and nice keep posting

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