December 5, 2023

A teacher’s dream is to find your one and only school and be there forever, right? With a supportive admin, teaching colleagues who are also your best friends, collaborative teams… the list goes on and on.

I myself imagined that my teaching career would be much different than it is… that is, I thought I would get hired right away and stay there for my entire career. Six states and seven different classes later, I’m thankful for my journey – but boy oh boy… so many conversations!

And the interview process in the world of education often has several steps.

From the initial interview to the short teaching presentation, you need to be prepared to provide a well-rounded view of what it’s like to have you in the classroom.

In schools, potential candidates will often provide a sample lesson for review. Sometimes this lesson is pre-recorded and presented to an interview panel, and sometimes you will be observed teaching the lesson live to the students.

Either way, this is an important part of the interview and can often be the most intimidating.

Although most teacher candidates (even if they are fresh from certification) taught several (if not A LOT) Live lessons at this point, the added pressure of an interview panel can make even the most seasoned 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 – pick a topic that’s easy for you. One that is second nature. Now is not the time to tackle a complicated, new lesson you’ve never taught before. This is the time to teach something you know and are confident about.
  • Make him the best version of you. It’s really important to consider what you’ve 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 part of the interview, organize your lesson! Maybe it’s time to integrate technology or facilitate group learning. Perhaps you can make your demo unique by offering students a choice.
  • Connect with students. At the end of the day, more than likely, several candidates have the ability to teach the lesson you are teaching. Another advantage is the possibility of connecting with students. The whole point of teaching is not just to teach, but to teach these particular children. Look for (and plan!) ways to interact and truly connect with students. If you are taking a pre-recorded lesson, think of a few ways you could demonstrate or include it.
  • Set clear goals. Although this is a vital we can sometimes (because of our nerves) either rush through part of the lesson or skip it all together! Be sure to intentionally start the lesson with objectives that relate to the appropriate standard. Remember to visually display, review and revisit them.
  • Be flexible. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned – especially in the world of teaching! More than likely, the interview panel wants to see how you adapt to the unexpected. Don’t sweat it when something goes off the rails or goes in a different direction than you thought. Take a deep breath and adjust.
  • Be obvious. Don’t try to be subtle about the strategies and techniques you use. Differentiation? Do you understand the controls? 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 they are looking for in their next teacher. Plan ahead 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 for feedback on how you think the lesson went. Be honest. Share what you would change or add the next time you learn it, as well as what you think went smoothly. Honestly, regardless of whether it’s part of the interview process, it’s so important to do it for your own benefit whether you get the job or not!
  • Get feedback in advance. If you’re feeling particularly nervous, don’t wait for a sample lesson to try it out for the first time. There will always be a forgotten part of the lesson or a stumble over words. Remember the days when you taught your stuffed animals? Get back to it! Now is your time to put all those first mistakes behind you. Call family members and friends who would be willing to try the lesson with you. So much of your jitters will dissolve after one or two runs through the content.

Most importantly, lead confidently.

Teachers who are confident in their own skin and in touch with their students are highly sought after. And don’t let setbacks discourage you – because they will come. Hang in there and keep growing!

What was the best sample lesson you learned during an interview? Tell us in the comments below!


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