Delivering an Engaging Sample Lesson

Edit: I would like to clarify that I am sharing the knowledge I’ve learned from previous interview circumstances. This knowledge helped me achieve my current position which I LOVE and plan to be in for years and years to come 🙂

I’ve found that delivering a sample lesson is a 50/50 ask when interviewing. Sometimes there’s an initial interview and then the school responds with a request for a sample lesson. Sometimes, depending on when you’re interviewing, there is simply not enough time. With the frequency of Zoom interviews increasing, you may be asked to present a three to five minute focus lesson over a video call. 

As a teacher, a sample lesson feels… funny? If you’re presenting a sample lesson to actual students, there’s a high chance you know absolutely nothing about them. How is that a representation of real life? If you’re presenting a sample lesson to your panel, it feels ridiculous to speak to adults as you would children. My advice? Go all in.

I’m presenting a lesson to children…

  • Focus on letting your passion for working with students come across
  • Focus on engaging your students in the lesson
  • Use this as an opportunity to show how you can quickly and successfully build relationships with students. Consider: word choice, praise, redirection, expression, etc.

I’m presenting a lesson to a panel…

  • Speak and act the way you would if you had a group of children in front of you
  • Keep in mind that this will feel awkward
  • Go with it! Get your panel laughing, participating, and have a bit of fun yourself.

Use the tools you would present in a regular lesson- visuals, questioning, call and response, discussion, etc. Most importantly, don’t take it too seriously. Prepare the work, be knowledgeable about the subject, but use this sample lesson as an opportunity to show that you are flexible and can think on your feet. If something goes wrong, roll with it! I find it useful to name when something goes wrong (especially when working with students) and then to redirect or correct. For example, if you’re doing a focus lesson on sharks and a student starts talking about his trip to Hawaii and then another chimes in about the time they snorkeled in Bermuda. Don’t fret. My phrasing is this: 

“My friends, I love that this lesson has created so many strong connections for you because that shows me you’re really engaged with what we’re learning. However, we are getting off track and my time with you today is limited! Let’s refocus and maybe at the end of our lesson we’ll have time for a few students to share their personal connections.” 

Remember that even if you have a group of students in front of you for five minutes, you are their teacher for those five minutes! Treat them as you would treat your actual class. Similarly, if you are presenting to a panel, show them how you interact with students. In the sample lesson I presented for the position I’m currently in, I asked my principal to “kiss your brain” after he answered a question correctly. It’s a phrase I use often in the classroom. The kids think it’s great, my panel thought it was hilarious. Be silly and have fun. That’s one of the best parts of teaching, after all.

Looking for more? My full “Actionable Interview Guide for Teachers” is available on Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s. However, you can get it free for a limited time when you sign up for my email list! Start your educational career off on the right foot and start moving one step closer to your dream job.

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