The teacher dream is to find your one school and be there forever, right? With supportive admin, teaching peers who are also your best friends, collaborative teams… the list goes on and on.
I, myself, envisioned my teacher career to be much different than it is… meaning, I thought I’d get hired at once school and stay there for my entire career. Six states later and seven different classrooms, I am thankful for my journey – but boy oh boy… so many interviews!
And the interview process in the education world often has several steps.
From the initial interview all the way up to a short teaching presentation, you must be prepared to give a well-rounded view into what it looks like to have you in the classroom.
Oftentimes, schools will have potential candidates provide a demo lesson for review. Sometimes, this lesson is pre-recorded and submitted to the interview panel, and sometimes you will be observed teaching a live lesson with students.
Either way, this is a vital portion of the interview, and can often be the most intimidating.
Though most teaching candidates (even if they are fresh out of their certification) have taught several (if not MANY) live lessons at this point, the added pressure of an interview panel can make even the most veteran teacher a little nervous. So what are the best ways to calm those nerves and prepare for a killer demo lesson? I’m glad you asked.
- Choose a topic that is familiar to you! And honestly, more than that – choose a topic that is easy for you. One that is second nature. Now is not the time to tackle a complicated, new, out there lesson that you have never taught before. This is the time to teach something that you know and are confident in.
- Make it the best version of itself. It is really important to consider what you have heard from the interview panel so far. What do they value, and what are they looking for? Based on what you may have picked up in the first portion of the interview, cater your lesson! Maybe this is the time to integrate technology or facilitate group learning. Maybe you can make your demo unique by offering student choice.
- Connect with the students. At the end of the day, there are more than likely several candidates that have the ability to teach the lesson you are teaching. The added advantage comes from being able to connect with the students. The whole point of teaching is not just to teach, but to teach these specific kids. Look for (and plan for!) ways to interact with and genuinely connect with the students. If you are on a pre-recorded lesson, brainstorm some ways you could demonstrate this or include it.
- State clear objectives. Though this is a vital part of the lesson, we can sometimes (because of our nerves) either speed through it or overlook it all together! Be sure to start your lesson intentionally with objectives that relate to the appropriate standard. Don’t forget these need to be visually displayed, reviewed, and revisited.
- Be flexible. Nothing ever goes exactly perfectly to plan – especially in the teaching world! More than likely, the interview panel wants to see how you adjust to unexpected events. Don’t sweat it when something derails or goes a different direction than you were thinking. Take a deep breath and adapt.
- Be obvious. Don’t try to be subtle about the strategies and techniques you are using. Differentiation? Understanding checks? Exit tickets? Use your strategies confidently and clearly. There should be no doubt in the panel’s mind about what you are doing. These are the strategies that they are looking for in their next teacher. Plan ahead for them and include them in the demo.
- Be prepared to reflect. One of the keys to a successful teaching career is self-reflection. So, don’t be surprised if you are asked to give some feedback on how you thought the lesson went. Be honest. Share what you would change or add the next time you taught it as well as what you felt went smoothly. An honestly, regardless of whether this is part of the interview process, this is so important to do for your own benefit, whether you get the job or not!
- Get some feedback ahead of time. If you are feeling especially nervous, don’t wait for the demo lesson for your first run-through. There will always be a forgotten portion of the lesson or a stumbling over of words. Remember the days of teaching to your stuffed animals? Get back to it! Now is your time to get all those first time mistakes over with. Call up family members and friends who would be willing to test the lesson with you. So many of your jitters will be dissolved after one or two times through the content.
Most of all, lead with confidence.
Teachers who are confident in their own skin and connect with their students are highly sought after. And don’t be discouraged by setbacks – because they will come. Persevere and continue to grow!
What has been the best demo lesson you’ve taught during an interview? Tell us in the comments below!