Nothing school leaders do is more important than interviewing teacher candidates. Deciding whether someone is worthy of instructing and influencing other people's children--what a huge responsibility!
Many schools base this crucial decision on how a candidate performs during a demonstration lesson. But should the demo lesson be a deal breaker or deal maker?
If a candidate was unprepared or seemed incapable of connecting with students, then yes, the demo should be a deal breaker. On the other hand, an awesome demo lesson should not be an automatic deal maker. In fact, several principals have told me about teachers who aced their demos but failed in their own classrooms.
Demo lessons can be a valuable part of the hiring process if you use them for two purposes. First, to weed out candidates who are clearly wrong for your students. And second, to set up post-demo debriefing sessions with other candidates. This includes teachers who hit a home run on the demo, but also those who struck out despite conscientious preparation and other qualities of effective teachers.
Great teachers are committed to excellence over many years, not just 20-30 minutes. Use the post-demo debriefing to assess whether candidates have this commitment. Ask them to reflect on their demo lessons, and see how they respond to critical feedback. Use the demo lesson process to determine whether candidates are not only capable, but also coachable. Use it to evaluate candidates based on their potential rather than just their performance.
Image by Convisum, provided by Dreamstime license
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