A demo lesson is a lesson that is planned and then taught to a group of students (or sometimes a group of adults playing the role of the students) for a school who is hiring for a teaching position. A demo lesson is the audition for the job. The administrators and teachers want to learn about how you plan and implement lessons, your teaching style, and how you interact with students. The demo lesson is challenging because you do not know the students or their specific needs nor do you know what content they have already learned in order to plan your lesson. It’s important to keep in mind that the interview committee does not expect perfection. Instead, they expect you to interact well with the students and they want the students to learn something from your teaching. Here are a few tips for planning for a demo lesson:
Write a Thorough Lesson Plan
The lesson plan you plan for the demo lesson needs to be thorough and well thought out. The objectives in your lesson plan need to be clear and your procedure must be aligned to the objectives. I recommend writing the draft of the lesson plan and then asking someone else (preferably another teacher) to read the lesson plan to make sure that it is clear and easily understood without explanation. In your lesson plan, I suggest you plan for some form of student engagement or interaction – meaning that the whole lesson should not be direct instruction. The interview team wants to see how you can manage the students when they are working together in partnerships or small groups. For example, they are looking at how you ensure the students are working on the task you assigned in their partnerships or groups and then they are looking for how you manage to bring their attention back to you once the group work is finished. Finally, make sure you edit your lesson plan. There should not be misspellings nor should there be grammatical errors.
Dress Professionally, But Like a Teacher
It is important to dress professionally (i.e., keep the jeans at home!), but you want to dress like a teacher. I do not recommend wearing a business suit as very few teachers I know wear a formal suit to teach on a daily basis. Consider the outfits that you see other teachers wearing and wear something similar, but remember to keep it professional, as you do not have the job yet! For example, black pants, a collared button down shirt, and a blazer is a good go-to outfit. When deciding what to wear, consider that you will be moving around the classroom and working with students so it is important that you are comfortable and dressed appropriately to move around. Also, consider the shoes that you will wear. For women, I do not recommend wearing super high heels as it may be more challenging to move around the classroom. Finally, be mindful of wearing strong perfumes or fragrances as many people – both adults and children – may be sensitive to strong scents.
Use Quality Literature
If you are teaching a lesson that requires you to use a book with the students, use quality literature. I highly recommend doing some research and finding books that may be new to the students and interview committee. For example, I had a student who was asked to teach a demo lesson for a fifth grade class that introduced them to the fantasy genre. She had used the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg in my class and decided to include it into her lesson plan. The students were so mesmerized by the book, which was also new to the principal and assistant principal. They were impressed with her knowledge of children’s literature, how she included it into her lesson plan, and how she used the book with the students that she landed the job! So, take the time and do some research about quality literature that you can use in your demo lesson, as it shows you can and are willing to learn about and find quality texts to support and engage students.
Actors practice (a lot!) for auditions. This is the same for teachers with demo lessons. You must practice teaching the lesson before you teach in front of an interview committee. If you are able to practice with a small group of students, that is great, so that you can see how the students respond to your lesson. If you are unable to teach students prior to your demo, then ask a few friends or colleagues to play the role of students so you can practice. After you try-out your lesson, ask for constructive feedback. For example, ask what went well and what was a strength of your lesson and teaching. Then, ask what changes you should make to your lesson and teaching before going into the demo lesson. Once you have their feedback, consider making the changes they recommended. Remember, the purpose of practicing is to improve!
Stay calm and remember that you are showing who you are as a teacher! One final tip – smile while teaching – it helps connect you to the students and shows that you enjoy teaching and working with students!