A life skills teacher, also called a “life skills coach,” helps students with special needs learn skills that can help them in everyday life. Skills such as practicing personal safety and personal hygiene, getting dressed and making meals ‒ all are examples of life skills. A life skills teacher typically works with children, adults and the elderly to help them either become or remain as independent as possible.
If you’re pursuing a career as a life skills teacher, then you already know how much hard work and time go into learning the tools you need to help your students. What about the interview? The questions that a life skills teacher might be asked during an interview may be a bit difficult to answer, even though you’ve already conquered some pretty challenging obstacles to get here.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Life Skills Teacher
A life skills teacher has many duties and responsibilities. While these teachers are hired to teach life skills that are appropriate for the age level and abilities of their student, other duties and responsibilities include:
- Comfort in teaching a number of challenging life skills, from handling money to brushing teeth
- Work one-on-one or in small groups
- Work in a school district, prisons, group homes, at a facility or visit the individual’s home
- May visit certain locations with your clients to encourage them to practice the life skills that you’ve taught them
- Identify the needs of your clients and set realistic goals for them
- May need to drive clients to certain locations (clean record and license are required)
- Typically, a clean criminal record
- Communicate with family members and professionals involved in the client’s life
- Provide reports and updates on the client’s progress and performance
- Knowledge of computers and written communication skills
Life Skills Teacher Job Qualifications and Requirements
To be a life skills teacher, you will have to meet the general job qualifications and requirements of a life skills teacher. Though a bachelor’s degree is not necessarily required in all circumstances, employers usually prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree over candidates who do not have one. The bachelor’s degree should be in a related field, such as education or human services, but that’s not necessarily required. It’s required of a special education teacher, as are as the proper certifications.
Additionally, those hiring for a life skills teacher will be looking for someone who has experience working with the special needs demographic. If you have a master’s degree or possess a teaching certificate in special education in addition to your experience, then you’ll be a more desirable candidate.
What Is the Salary of a Life Skills Teacher?
Life skills teachers earn different salaries, depending on their level of qualification and experience. In 2015, self-enrichment education teachers earned a median annual salary of $36,680, while special education teachers brought home an annual median salary of $53,920. Other sources report that the annual salary of a true life skills teacher is somewhere between these figures, at around $48,000.
What to Expect in Your Life Skills Teacher Interview
Once you’ve made sure that you’ve met all the qualifications and requirements necessary for a life skills teacher, then you can start applying for jobs. You may want to apply to a school district, a community or non-profit organization, a group home, or even to work with an individual family.
When you go into your interview, you should have a friendly and approachable demeanor, but, of course, be yourself. The person who’s hiring you will want to make sure you’re able to work with clients who have special needs, so he or she will want to check that you have the type of personality that would make you a good match. They’ll also want to check your knowledge, skill set and your experience, so be professional and ready to highlight these attributes about yourself in the interview.
Life Skills Teacher Interview Questions
During a life skills teacher interview, you will be asked specific questions about your experience, what you’re capable of teaching and how you would react in certain situations. These questions will vary, depending on the age group of the client and environment you’ll be working in. Some examples of questions you may be asked include:
- “How would you create and enforce rules in your classroom?”
- “What was one of your most challenging situations/clients, and how did you manage it?”
- “How do you manage expectations and set goals for your students?”
- “How do you involve the family in the client’s goals?”
- “How do you scaffold for your client?”
- “How do you monitor their performance?”
- “What do you do when your client is not reaching their goals?”
- “Tell me about a time that you used evidence to come up with the best solution to a problem?”
- “How do you monitor the use of your students’ equipment and materials?”
- “How do you achieve long-term objectives?”
There are so many potential questions you can be asked in a life skills interview, so it’s important to prepare for as many as you can.
Inclusion Interview Questions for Teachers
If you’re applying for a job as a life skills teacher within a school district, then you may be asked different questions in your interview from those that you would be asked elsewhere. Even though your job is to teach the student(s) life skills, you may be working more on teaching them skills that can help them manage their expectations and advocate for their learning and independence in inclusion classes. This is especially true if you’re a special education teacher.
Because special education stresses the importance of placing special needs kids in their least restrictive environment, or LRE, these students need to have coping skills readily available so they can be independent as possible. Therefore, you may be asked interview questions such as:
- “Should students with special needs be mainstreamed as much as they can be?”
- “What are your thoughts on inclusion and the least restrictive environment for a student?”
- “How do you stay up-to-date with the best special education practices?”
- “How do you stay on top of all the paperwork required of students in special education?”
- “How will you create a trusting environment for the student(s) you’ll be working with?”
- “How will you ensure that the student receives the appropriate amount of support, especially from their general education classroom?”
- “How will you ensure that the student’s social needs are being met?”
- “How will you encourage parent involvement?”
- “How will you teach student(s) to manage their own behavior?”
- “Why did you want to become a life skills/special education teacher?”
Other Tips for a Successful Life Skills Interview
In addition to having an idea of the various questions you may be asked, there are other ways you can prepare yourself, so you’ll feel more comfortable and prepared for your life skills teacher interview. First and foremost, research the interview questions that life skills teachers and/or special education teachers are likely to be asked, and practice the questions – and the answers – over and over again. Perhaps even do a mock interview with someone you know who has experience as an HR manager.
Choose appropriate clothing to wear to the interview and make sure you ask a sufficient amount of questions about the client you’ll be teaching. It may be good to ask to see the client and introduce yourself to them to sense if you feel some type of connection right away. Even though the school district/facility/individual’s family is interviewing you, you also need to make sure that the job is a right fit for you as well.