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Teaching Demonstrations for Interviews

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I was recently asked for advice on presenting teaching demonstrations during interviews. I do not consider myself to be an expert in this area, and I hope others will post comments and advice here as well. Let’s open up the discussion!

First find out how much time you’ll have to present, your intended audience, and the subject or lesson you’re expected to teach. If you aren’t given the specifics of what or to whom you be teaching, have a variety of options: lecture or small group, and a set of lessons or workshop topics you'd be willing to teach. You could give the interviewers some choices and watch them be impressed by your range and confidence!

Demonstrate your organizational skills. You’ll want to work from an outline, either in PowerPoint or on the board. Tell them what they’ll learn, teach it, and review. If you are using notes, be sure they are legible in dim lighting. Enthusiasm is a must. It’s best to not pretend to teach a hypothetical class. Instead treat the interviewers as actual students. There is a lot more energy in a real lesson than in a hypothetical one. Remember to use those public speaking skills: get their attention right away, modulate your voice, be aware of your facial expressions and body language, and use appropriate humor.

The best lessons seem to be interactive. Ask questions, and keep the students engaged. When you begin with a discussion, it lets students know that feedback is welcome. This can set the tone for the entire presentation. Be sure to allow time for questions both during and at the end of your presentation. When planning, you’ll want to be somewhat flexible and build in time for Q and A.

Multimedia can enhance your presentation but should be used with caution. If you are planning to use technology, make sure you have a back-up plan just in case the equipment malfunctions or the server is down. Don’t over-rely on PowerPoint, because no one wants to watch you read the slides. You can show images or video clips to illustrate your points and to initiate discussion. Music can also add an interesting element to your presentation and engage the audience, when appropriate. Handouts are always appreciated. Your aim is to ensure these teaching aids illustrate, rather than detract from, your presentation.

Finally: practice, practice, practice. Try recording your presentation and evaluate yourself. Rehearsing will allow you to give your best teaching demonstration. The end result? You will build confidence each time you present the lesson.

--Diana Sanchez
Career Counselor, California State University San Marcos,
Past-President, California Association for Employment in Education

1 Comment

Thank you for this great info. I recently facilitated a Teacher Career Panel here at Mills College and here are some additional tips hiring managers gave for conducting a teaching demo:
- Teach something solid...don't try blow them away with your creativity. Consider using a lesson plan you have taught before and with which you are comfortable.
- Ask the classroom teacher what the students have learned thus far, what the school may like to see in a lesson, and the classroom management norms already in place. Not a good idea to implement new classroom management strategies with younger students.
- Take time to do some relationship building with the students before starting the lesson (i.e. check-ins, name tags, etc.)
- Assess student participation and be flexible with your lesson plan.
- Don't be afraid to be reflective with your lesson subsequent to the demo. Hiring managers may want to hear about what you may have done differently.

Good luck!

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