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Interviewing Advice: Teaching Demo Tips

HERC Star
By Higher Education Recruitment Consortium
August 22, 2017
An image of a woman giving a teaching demo.

You’ve landed the coveted on-campus interview. Part of your very long day will be a teaching demonstration, otherwise known as the most nerve-wracking part of the entire interview process. Since this is your opportunity to show the hiring committee—as well as your potential new colleagues—what you are like in the classroom, you’ll want to dedicate time to preparing for this crucial part of the interview journey. The following tips will help you go into your teaching demo with confidence.

 

Understand the Parameters

As soon as you get your topic and instructions for your teaching demonstration, read through them carefully and jot down any questions you may have. Set aside some time to review them later in the day when you can fully concentrate. If you still have questions, email them; it’s better to ask for clarification now than find out you misinterpreted later.

Be sure you understand the scope of the topic, whether you’ll be teaching students or faculty, and whether you should include an assessment. Be sure to ask whether the room has the technology you are thinking of using available before you become wed to using it.

 

Write a Lesson Plan

How do you make sure that you are actually teaching something? Write a lesson plan, including a learning objective. Having a lesson plan will also make it easier to talk about your pedagogical choices and connect your teaching philosophy to what you did during your demonstration.

You may or may not have a full class period for your demo. If you have only 30 minutes, then a lesson plan will help you keep each part of the lesson in scale. You don’t want to lecture for most of your lesson out of habit if that’s how you start a typical 75-minute class.

 

Vary Your Visuals

It’s easy to fall back on PowerPoint to “liven” up your lectures or help students break down complicated topics, but your teaching demo is not the place to stand still in front of boring text-based slides.

Would using the whiteboard allow for more interaction? Could you facilitate student engagement through Poll Everywhere or another online application? Would your activity be bolstered by a handout? If you must use PowerPoint, use it smartly: for visual information, not just summarizing text.

 

Practice (Out Loud and in Front of People)

All practice is good practice, but the best practice is out loud and in front of others. Even if you have taught a great deal, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of time an activity will take. The more the practice session reflects the actual environment, the better. You’ll find appropriate spots to move around the room, ask direct questions, or perform formative assessment.

 

Stick to the Time

It’s important to stick to your allotted time. First of all, staying on time benefits you—you’ll have more time to answer questions, and you’ll have more time to ask questions that will help you determine if the school is a good fit for you. Also, you want to show that you have control over your classroom, and that starts with control over your own lessons.

Whether this is your first on-campus interview or you’re a veteran, you’ll be glad you prepared for your teaching demonstration properly. Aligning your pedagogy, the committee's expectations, and your lesson itself is the first step to a successful teaching career.

 

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