Demonstration Lessons

Demonstration Class Tips

Teaching a demonstration class can feel intimidating, even for an experienced teacher.  Keep in mind that the school knows the situation is artificial, and will take your level and kind of experience into consideration when evaluating your lesson.  Also remember that in most cases, students in a demo class will rise to the occasion, co-operate easily and respond well.

You’ll be asked either to teach a lesson that fits into what the class is studying, or to do a stand-alone lesson, perhaps related to but not part of the current curriculum. 

Here are some pointers on preparing your lesson:

1.  Ask if you can visit a class before your demonstration lesson.  If possible, visit before the day of your lesson, so you can use what you observe to help you plan. 

2. While independent schools vary in teaching philosophies, most schools are looking for the following capabilities in prospective teachers:

         •the ability to relate positively to students

         •an in-depth knowledge of subject matter

         •an understanding of the needs of the particular age of students

         •the ability to engage students and to inspire interest in the subject

         •the ability to foster critical thinking

         •clarity of instruction

3.  While command of subject matter is important, for most schools what matters most is the ability to develop positive relationships with students. Given this, it’s best to plan a lesson that is to some degree interactive in nature.   Keep the importance of positive rapport in mind, and don’t get so focused on showing your knowledge of the subject that you don’t communicate your liking of students.

4.  Find out as much as you can about the class you’ll teach:  what the students have already studied, typical class routines and formats, how students usually behave. Ask to talk to the teacher of the class, as this person will have the best information. Be aware, though, that all teachers are busy.  You should probably limit yourself to a total of two contacts with the teacher about your preparations.

5.  Make sure you know the basic facts about the class: level, size, length of the class period, classroom layout.  Get copies of the text or materials the students use. If you need any classroom equipment or technology for your lesson, ask about its availability and reliability.

6.  In planning your lesson, ask yourself what the goal of the lesson is.  What do you want students to take away from the lesson?  Then ask yourself whether and how the lesson you plan will achieve that goal.

7. Make sure you plan your lesson with the age of the students in mind.   Keep in mind that younger students benefit from a change of activities during the lesson.

8. After you’ve decided on the content and structure of your lesson, plan it in segments, allotting a time to each piece.  Then go through your plan by segment, imagining how students will respond and how long their responses will take.  Be as specific and realistic as possible in estimating times for each piece of the lesson.

9. If possible, communicate your plan to the teacher of the class (email or phone) and ask that person if she/he thinks your plan is realistic and effective. 

10.  Once you have a detailed plan, think a bit about what you’ll do if the students respond differently than you anticipate. What might you do if the students are so enthusiastic that their responses take longer than you planned?  What if they are more reticent?  What if they seem to understand so quickly that the lesson moves more rapidly than you anticipate?

11.  Since one of your goals is to show how you interact with students, it will be helpful to be able to use students’ names when calling on them. You can ask if the students could wear nametags during your demo, or you can simply ask each student, at the beginning of class, to take out a piece of notebook paper, write her/his name on it in big print, and fold it in half so that it stands up on the desk.

12.  After your demo lesson, you may be asked to comment both on the students and your lesson.  If you were to reteach the lesson to a similar group, would you do anything differently?  As part of this conversation, ask for feedback on your lesson, and for any suggestions the observer might have.

13.  Some basic reminders: 

•Allow extra time and arrive at the school early.  You don’t want to worry about being late, and you can use the extra minutes to observe the school in action. 

•If you need to copy materials for distribution, do this before you arrive at the school.  Include some extras for the observers. 

14.  Before you leave, state your interest in the position and the school, and ask about the timing of the hiring decision.