Whether or not you’ve interviewed for a teaching position, you’ve probably heard of the demo lesson. It’s typically the final step in the interview process, and for many, the most intimidating component. Now, as many schools begin to implement virtual (video) demo lesson requirements, much of what makes a demo lesson successful remains the same:
- Remember the POISE framework.
- Teach to your strengths.
- Ground your lesson in the standards.
- Plan for a stand alone lesson.
- Identify ways to differentiate.
- Establish classroom norms.
- Build your lesson around a clear, measurable objective.
- Avoid fluff.
- Teach new material.
- Assess mastery.
With the transition to a video submission or virtual interaction, there will be some new challenges to consider. Fortunately, hiring managers and school administrators are increasingly aware of the impact these challenges can have on demo lessons. They understand the need to remain flexible as all parties learn the online platforms, and they don’t expect things to be perfect. They do, however, expect that you’ve taken the time to think through this lesson, and that you’re planning on giving a complete lesson - beginning, middle, and end - regardless of the time constraints. When planning, make sure you know whether your lesson will be condensed (i.e. 10-20 minutes in length, which is likely the case for virtual demo lessons) or for the duration of a full class period (more common for in-person demos).
Two Ways to Demo
Recorded Demo Video
If the school asks you to submit a demo lesson video, you may be presented with a few options:
- Submit a recording of yourself teaching a lesson to your current students. Many people currently student teaching or in graduate school already have recordings they’ve submitted for assignments. If you’re proud of your work and it’s a strong representation of your teaching competencies, use it. Otherwise, prop up your phone - or phone a friend to assist - and record one of your next lessons.
- Act it out with friends or family. Just as adults will sometimes sit in as students during the live demo lesson, you can record yourself teaching the lesson to your friends and have them ask grade-level appropriate questions.
- Record yourself as though it were a virtual classroom. If you don’t have students in the room, teach it to the camera as though you were presenting during a webinar to live students. Make sure it’s clear you’ve thought through the questions most likely to be asked and that you’ve prepared to differentiate for diverse student needs.
Virtual Demo Lesson
It’s also possible that the school will have you give the lesson during your virtual interview. If this is the case, you’ll be teaching the lesson live via video - likely to a group of adults watching on the other end of the screen. Be ready to answer questions from “students” as the adults will likely be posing as such. Don’t be thrown off by this - it’s actually a best practice. They’re checking to see how well the content has been internalized, and how capable you are of answering questions on the fly.
Regardless of the route the school decides to take, you want to make sure you’ve set yourself up for success. And whether you’ll do this in front of students, or adults posing as students, there are key routines you’ll want in place. Here’s a quick list of things to consider:
- Pre-make charts that are needed for the lesson.
- Plan and rehearse routines students will need to execute during the lesson.
- Decide on clear, concise grade level appropriate directions.
- Prepare for the unexpected. This can be a classroom curveball, or a technological issue during the interview.
Two Reflection Protocols
Video Review and Feedback
Another possibility during this portion of the interview process is a lesson feedback exercise. With these, schools will share a recording of someone else teaching a lesson, and ask you to provide feedback to the teacher. This is another opportunity for them to gauge your teaching competencies in practice by seeing what stands out to you - and what improvements you believe might be of highest leverage in the classroom.
Demo Lesson Reflection
Whether you sent in a pre-recorded lesson or you gave the lesson live via video conferencing, there’s a good chance things didn’t go exactly as expected - for most teachers, even very experienced teachers, things seldom do. But even if you felt like it was a disaster (and it probably wasn’t!), you can always discuss what you would have done differently during the debrief.
When you can take ownership of the lesson - both the decisions you made in its design and the way it played out for students - you’ll be perceived as responsible and reflective. When you can take feedback and share how you’d plan to implement it the next time around, you’ll be perceived as coachable. Schools want to know that they are hiring someone with these characteristics because it shows a willingness (and the humility!) to grow and develop.
No matter how your future demo lesson is set-up, we’re here to help you feel confident and prepared. Check out some of our additional resources:
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Planning Your Teacher Demo Lesson (53 Minute Video)
- Deliver a Successful Demo Lesson (20 Minute Video)
- Exemplar Demo Lesson and Sample Lesson Plans (15 Minute Video)
And if you’ve had success during your virtual (video) demo lesson - or if you have advice for others, drop us a line on Twitter @getselectedco.
Selected helps teachers find jobs at schools they love. We offer a free school matching and career support platform for teachers that connects them with 1,200+ PK-12 public and independent schools in urban metro areas in the Northeast US, CA, and AZ, including New York City, NJ, CT, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, Los Angeles, SF Bay Area, and Phoenix. Create a FREE teacher profile in 5 minutes and connect with hiring schools immediately!