About Claire McMahon

"Knowledge indeed is a desirable, a lovely possession." Thomas Jefferson

shutterstock_21198205It’s that time of year again. Everyone is getting excited for the summer, teachers more so than the students. For other teachers, it’s a time of anxiety. Being either unsure of where you’ll be starting in September or anxious to find a better position is never an enviable spot to be in. In order to nail down that new spot for the new year, you need a killer demo lesson. You could have an amazing interview and bomb the demo and be right back to square one.

Ask Questions

Call or email the school where you are doing the demo. You need to find out as much information about the group of students as possible in order to plan and implement the lesson successfully. Odds are the group of students would not be seen in a typical classroom setting. The goal is to see how flexible you are and how well you can handle the pressure. You need to know the number of students, names if possible(for name tags), and if there are any IEPs, BIPS, or ELLs. Do not be afraid to ask questions. The more you know, the better you can plan the lesson.

Know Your Audience

I don’t mean the students you will be teaching. Google the principal, the superintendent or whomever is going to be watching your lesson. If you find out that the principal is a strong supporter of teaching content through literacy, maybe you need to keep that in mind while planning. Don’t change your teaching style completely, then you won’t look comfortable with your own lesson. However, you are in competition for a job and you want to give yourself whatever competitive edge that you can.

Google It

Googling demo lesson ideas are a great place to get started. I wouldn’t recommend using the Googled lesson exactly, someone might also end up using the exact lesson as well. You don’t want to follow someone who just taught the exact lesson you taught; not only will the students be bored, but the people observing will spend the entire lesson comparing the two. Google and get ideas, but put your own twist on whatever you find. You might find a good hook, but change the product to one that you know will guarantee success with you as the teacher.

Take a Little Risk

You need to think of a lesson that catches the attention of the interview committee. If it turns out to be too “safe” than you might end up with some bored students and if the students are bored, then the interview committee is probably bored as well. Taking a risk means walking a fine line. A huge risk might mean that the students will be confused or unable to complete the task. Even with the risk, you need the students to be successful at whatever you decide to teach. Think of a “wow factor.”

Only Show a Few Friends

Everyone has an opinion. Opinions can be helpful and might even help you find a hole in the lesson you hadn’t seen before. However, too many opinions might change the lesson you wrote to the point where it is unrecognizable. At that point, it isn’t your lesson anymore. In a high-pressure situation such as this, you need a lesson that looks and feels like your own so you can implement it with ease. Pick two friends you trust and ask them only. Opinions are always good, within reason.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice the lesson. Teach it to your current students or even to some adult friends. Practicing reading the book, giving the directions, or asking the questions will make the lesson more automatic the day of the demo. You don’t want to spend the entire demo staring at the lesson plan. It needs to be smooth and the transitions need to move without a hitch or a long pause. Practicing can help you time out the lesson appropriately and help you find better ways to model or give directions.

Good luck to all those searching for jobs this summer. Knowing where you will be in the fall is a huge relief and I hope that everyone gets to feel that relief and enjoy their summer.

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