You aced the first rounds of the interview process and now it’s time to show the hiring committee what you’re really made of.
The mock lesson for your teaching interview is your time to shine!
Doing a mock lesson as part of a teaching interview is becoming more common these days. The days of having one interview and getting hired almost immediately afterwards are getting further and further behind us (though it absolutely does still happen!).
After almost a decade working abroad, I guess I found myself surprised that so many of the schools I was applying to stateside requested an in-person demo lesson or at the very least a recorded lesson of my teaching.
At that time, I had never done a mock interview for a teaching position. Never.
So I started to research like crazy how to “WOW” my teaching mock interview.
Even though I had taught for well over a decade at that point, this mock interview thing was a very new experience for me.
I was going to have at most 30 minutes to prove myself to potential colleagues in front of a group of kids I’d never met or seen before.
What could I do to knock this teaching mock lesson out of the park?
If these schools were offering me the opportunity to do a teaching mock lesson (a good sign!), I had better get it right.
I shortlisted my most promising leads and decided to pursue the school I felt was the best fit for me.
Fast forward some time later…
I nailed the mock lesson teaching interview and walked out the door with a signed contract in hand!
Talk about being on cloud nine. 😇 I was doing a hallelujah dance all the way home!
As I reflect on that mock lesson teaching interview, I think about what made that lesson and experience so successful.
Through the feedback I received from my then future colleagues and administrators who observed me, I want to share with you what I did well so that you too can maximize your chances of landing that coveted teaching job!
I’ll even share with you the exact lesson plan I used so that you can see that though my lesson plan was nothing special, it was how I presented the information that made all the difference.
I’m hoping this article will be very helpful in your hiring success!
So let’s get right into it shall we!
Here are some tips for making the most of your mock lesson teaching interview.
1. Investigate Guidelines
Once the school formally invited me to do the teaching mock lesson, I did some further digging into what academic programs or curriculum approaches were used at the school. I didn’t find much more than what I’d found before the initial interview.
So I asked the curriculum coordinator (who was in charge of ensuring I had what I needed for the mock lesson) if there were any particular guidelines that the committee wanted me to follow.
Were there a series of books or a specific textbook they wanted me to use?
Was there anything special about the curriculum that I needed to know about?
Regarding the students, did I need to know anything particular concerning their academic and social needs?
Though the sky was the limit (yeah!), the curriculum coordinator did let me know that the school had just adopted a new math program.
As for the subjects of reading, writing, spelling, science, and social studies, the school had no set curriculum, just a set of general standards.
So I was basically free to choose whichever subject I wanted (As an elementary teacher, I was happy about that!) and be creative.
It was important, though, to know that upfront.
Some schools are much more structured and “rigid” (for lack of a better word) with their teaching standards.
Make sure you know what’s expected of you more or less.
If the hiring committee gives you no such guidelines, research the school in more detail to determine what programs are used. Try to align your teaching mock lesson around one of those themes.
Doing so helps the hiring committee see that you did your research and are able to successfully implement or are willing to learn more about programs already occurring at their school.
2. Don’t Teach in a Vacuum
Now that you know some general guidelines as far as curriculum standards, plan your teaching mock lesson based on something related to what the kids are already learning.
What are they currently studying? What are some lesson objectives from which you could piggyback off?
If possible, communicate with the teacher whose students you’ll be teaching. Ask what they are currently learning in whatever subject you plan to teach.
Based on that conversation, decide exactly what you’ll teach.
From the conversations I had with the teacher I’d be covering, I decided to do the next lesson in their measurement unit: perimeter.
Now I could begin creating a great lesson that was highly relevant to the kids’ previous instruction and which wouldn’t cause a disruption to their normal learning sequence.
3. Create a Great Lesson
Create a lesson that’s student-centered and that promotes higher-order thinking skills. Make it very engaging and hands-on if possible.
Make sure it’s grade-appropriate, relevant, and interesting.
Don’t reinvent the wheel too much with your mock demo lesson.
Look online to see what lessons you can adapt and make your own. There are teachers and websites in cyberspace with really wonderful content from which to base your lesson.
Plan very well and fully prepare.
And don’t assume the school has the materials you’ll need. You can request that certain resources and manipulative be available to you (which will most likely be the case), but if you need anything above the basics…
Just bring your own.I wouldn’t take the risk of not doing so.
You absolutely don’t want to be without the materials you need. It could totally derail your entire mock lesson interview!
4. Establish Class Management
When doing your mock lesson, establish procedures and rules with the students before you get into the heart of the lesson.
I’m sure the hiring committee wants to see how well you handle classroom management too.
Before I even started my lesson, I gathered the students on the carpet, discussed with them how we would transition from one activity to another. We also reviewed how I would get their attention and some basic rules/procedures.
How will you get students’ attention? How will you handle a student who gets off-task?
Before starting your lesson…
- Do a brief icebreaker to get to know the students.
- Chat about procedures and transition signals that you’ll use during the lesson.
- Explain the teaching objective.
- Check for understanding. Do they understand your expectations?
No, you won’t have much time, but it’s important to do this step. It’ll be relatively brief, and that’s okay.
5. Be Yourself
Sometimes I think job candidates change their behavior too much just to get the job.
Yes. There is job etiquette that we much adhere to, but we shouldn’t lose touch with our core.
When teaching your demo lesson, do your best of course, but above all, be yourself.
Be energetic (whatever that is for you), and show your enthusiasm for being among the kids/staff.
Let your unique personality shine through.
I’m quirky, and I love that about myself! If it’s a turn-off for a hiring committee, so be it.
You want to be in a place where you’re celebrated for being you not tolerated.
6. Ignore the Watchers
Having a group of adults watch you teach can be so intimidating.
I had 4 teachers and 2 administrators observing me. I tried my best to not let them see me sweat! 😉
What I found worked was just to ignore them and focus all of my energies on teaching the best demo lesson possible to the kids.
Don’t let the observers during your mock lesson interview scare you. Just ignore them and focus on the students.
Go with the flow, and let the students’ actions and thoughts guide you.
Try your best to enjoy yourself too.
I actually enjoyed teaching my mock lesson! The kids were so engaged, and they were oh so sweet.
This comfortableness (is that a word?) helped my mock lesson interview.
My observers had a chance to see that I could deliver well under pressure.
Here’s My Teaching Demo Sample
As mentioned earlier in the post, I spoke with students before actually starting the lesson.
This helped to break the ice and establish some general guidelines.
Everyone gathered on the carpet, and we quickly introduced ourselves. Afterwards, I discussed a few gentle rules, procedures, and transition signals.
I made sure to check for understanding.
*I adapted this lesson from Getting to the Core of Elementary School Mathematics: Units for the Common Core, 2011 Grade 3, Part 2* (Remember, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just tweak things to give it your own flavor.)
Objective: Students will be able to explain perimeter and find the perimeter of various figures.
Materials: String, ruler, pattern blocks, document camera, PowerPoint, math journals
Hook of the Lesson:
To start the lesson, I grabbed students’ attention with this opening problem.
I had it projected on a screen so that all the kids could see it clearly.
I modified the problem using a name connected with the school in which I was doing the demo lesson. This really helped to grab the students’ attention!
I then created a “lake” using pattern blocks.
I actually put the wooden pattern block manipulatives (Amazon link) on top of the pattern below so that the students could visualize how I made the “lake” using pattern blocks before tracing the perimeter of it.
All of these steps were demonstrated using a document camera (Amazon link).
These cameras are a God-send (think super-modern and ultra-portable overhead projectors!). Thankfully the school had one available for me to use.
Then I posed this question to students:
How can we find the distance the ants have to travel around the lake using this string and ruler?
After a couple of students volunteered to answer, I called up one to help tape the string around the perimeter of the figure above.
Afterwards, we carefully lifted the tape and measured it in inches using the ruler.
Notice that I haven’t defined perimeter nor asked students for a definition. My goal was to first gather their prior knowledge and then guide them in understanding the concept of perimeter before explicitly defining it.
Students then worked in small groups to create their own “lakes” using pattern blocks.
With their groups, they had to do the same thing as I had modeled:
- create a “lake”,
- tape string around the perimeter of the “lake”,
- carefully lift the tape, and
- measure the tape to find the perimeter using the ruler.
As the little mathematicians worked, I asked that they discuss the questions below with their peers.
The goal was for them to think aloud the process and collaborate while solving the problem.
As they worked, I monitored and assisted groups as needed. I extended praise and feedback as appropriate.
Assessment/Closing of the Lesson:
After signaling for students to stop and gather on the carpet, we reviewed the discussion questions. A couple of groups also shared their “lake” outlines on the document camera.
Then I asked who could explain perimeter and how they had found the perimeter of the “lake” in the activity.
Lots of the kids wanted to share!
That was a great moment because their sincere participation let me know that they had at least understood the basic concept of perimeter and were confident enough to tell the whole class about it. 😛
They answered successfully (yeah!), so then I shared this slide.
In closing, the learners were sent to their desks to record in their math journals responses to the questions below.
Note that one of the questions mentions the math term “area”.
The students’ teacher had informed me in our pre-mock lesson interview conversation that the students had already covered area.
So I found it relevant to “spiral” that concept within this perimeter demo lesson.
How well would the students be able to make connections with what they had already learned in the previous lesson?
I made a point to guide their thinking in regards to that.
As you can see, my interview mock teaching lesson was nothing fancy, but according to the hiring committee, I knocked it out of the park!
A demo lesson is a great way for you to stand out from the crowd and show what you can really bring to the classroom.
Follow these tips, and you too will be on your way to landing that teaching job.
For more good advice, take a look at these teacher interview tips for landing the right job!
I hope this article gave you some valuable insight.
Here’s to a fruitful result in your hiring journey. Wishing you all the best!
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