You got the call! After investing hours in the job search, a prospective employer has called to invite you for an interview. You’ve prepared for this moment by researching the district’s website, reviewing sample interview questions, participating in a mock interview, and developing questions to ask the interviewer. However, when the caller indicates that you should plan to teach a ten-minute lesson, your anxiety level escalates. As you graciously thank the caller for the upcoming interview and opportunity to teach a lesson, your inner voice is screaming, “Where do I start?!”
First of all, don’t panic. You’re a teacher. You can do this! Don’t let the audience and abbreviated time frame intimidate you. Here are some tips to help you prepare an A+ demonstration lesson:
Consider the employer’s objectives. What are they looking for? The observers will be interested in several components, including: a) planning and preparation; b) classroom environment; c) knowledge of content/teaching strategies; and d) professionalism.
Planning and Preparation
• Prior to the interview, ask who your “students” will be and how many you should anticipate. Will you teach “real students” or administrators, school board members, teachers, and/or parents posing as students? Additionally, be clear on the parameters—time, context, number of students, topic, etc.
• This is not the time to stretch your creativity. If possible, choose a lesson that you have implemented before and revise it for the abbreviated time frame. Demonstrate your strengths.
• Your plan should be thorough; provide a cover sheet with the rationale for your lesson.
• Don’t try to cover too many objectives in your lesson. Keep it focused.
• Rehearse the lesson—time it and have it critiqued.
• Anticipate that you will have little set-up time. Keep your plan simple! Don’t assume that any resources are available. You may inquire about available technology, but don’t rely on it.
• Consider taking the first minute to have students prepare name tags so that you can call on them by name. They can wear the name tag or write their name on a sheet of tri-fold paper, positioned upright on their desks.
• Be prepared for the unexpected. There may be contrived discipline problems from administrators, for example.
Knowledge & Teaching Strategies
• Engage the students—this is key!
• At the end of the lesson plan, describe “extensions,” i.e. “If I had more time, I would …”
• Try to ask some higher-order thinking questions.
• Plan for differentiated instruction—even if particular student needs aren’t revealed beforehand. In your lesson plan, indicate how you will accommodate various needs.
• Demonstrate your resourcefulness by researching the district and local community website. If possible, “localize the lesson” by incorporating a school mascot, tradition or community landmark.
• Check out professional association websites for resources; mention this in your lesson plan or cover sheet.
• Along with your thank-you letter after the interview, include a self-reflection: “If I taught this lesson again, I would …”
With conscientious planning, your mini-lesson will truly show the prospective employer the teaching strengths you bring to the classroom. Therefore, prepare carefully, practice, and pursue this phase of the interview process with confidence. You’re ready to demonstrate your passion for teaching!
Do you have other tips for handling the demonstration lesson? If so, please post.
Deborah R. Snyder
Associate Director, Education Career Services
Grove City College, PA, on behalf of AAEE