It’s not uncommon for teachers who are interviewing at a new school to have to do a model lesson as part of the interview process. Even though we are used to teaching our students all day everyday, there is something really terrifying about having to do a model lesson with a group of students we have never met before…. and be watched while doing so.
I’ve had to do many model lessons throughout my career, and I remember the following questions constantly swirling through my mind as I prepared for that lesson….
What will the students’ behavior be like?
What do they already know about the topic I’ll be teaching?
Is my lesson content too hard?
Will my lesson be too easy and make the students bored?
Will they listen to me?
What will the interviewers think?
Will I get through the entire lesson in time?
What if I get through my lesson too quickly?
It can be stressful enough to have to prepare for a model lesson that will be face-to-face, but how do you even begin to prepare for an interview lesson that takes place over Zoom?
The other day I was helping a teacher from The Stellar Teacher Reading Membership get ready for an interview lesson that she was going to do over Zoom. She had never done an interview lesson over Zoom before (and to be clear, neither have I), and she wanted to talk through her lesson to make sure she was fully prepared.
While we were chatting about her lesson, I realized that this whole idea of doing a model lesson over Zoom is probably new for a lot of teachers, so if you find yourself in a situation where you have to do a virtual model lesson, here are some things to keep in mind.
Keep it simple.
An interview over Zoom is not the time to pull out all the stops. Don’t feel the need make a super-fancy-over-the-top-really-creative lesson. Simple can be effective. Pick your objective, and then decide the best way to teach the concept. Stick with a simple introduction to your lesson, a little bit of guided practice, and some time at the end for independent practice. A simple lesson can make you look like a highly effective teacher when you successfully execute all parts of the lesson. When I was an assistant principal, I watched MANY interview lessons, and it was always the simple ones that were the most effective. Less is more.
Teach a standard you are really comfortable and confident teaching.
If they give you a choice in the standard or objective, pick something that is simple and possibly something that you have taught before. Don’t pick a really complicated or abstract standard. Instead go for something you can easily and clearly communicate, and you know the students will be able to be successful during the lesson. It’s totally OK if your model lesson covers a standard that was taught before. You want to feel confident and comfortable so go with a lesson you know you can rock!
Ask a lot of clarifying questions ahead of time.
Considering this is a virtual lesson, you won’t be able to physically hand the students any materials you have prepared ahead of time. Usually when you do a model lesson, you show up with your own worksheets, manipulatives, books – heck, I even bring my own pencils. Since you won’t have that luxury with a virtual lesson, you want to do everything you can ahead of time to make sure your students have access to all relevant materials and supplies. The best way to do this is to ask a LOT of clarifying questions ahead of time. What tech options will be available? Do students have access to Google Classroom? Are these students familiar with Zoom? Do these kids know how to type? Have they used digital resources before? Will students have paper and pencil in front of them? What are the schools’ expectations for distance learning? The more questions you ask, the easier it will be for you to prepare for your lesson.
You might want to consider sharing your list of materials with the principal ahead of time just to make sure the students will have what they need. Don’t assume that your kids will show up with pencils and paper and will be able to quickly type responses into a chatbox on Zoom. Ask ahead of time so you can come into the lesson fully prepared.
Find a friend (or 5) and do a practice lesson.
Tech issues are bound to happen and the more comfortable you are with teaching your lesson online, the more likely you’ll know how to fix/troubleshoot an issue if it comes up. Ask a few friends (or even your current students) if they will help you do a practice lesson. Try to run through EVERYTHING. This will help you figure out the timing of your lesson, and if you are clearly communicating both directions and content.
Have a back-up plan.
If tech issues do happen, make sure you have a backup plan ready to go. If you were planning on sharing a google slide graphic organizer with your students but they aren’t able to access it, is there an alternative way that they could practice the skill? If you were thinking of sharing a short video clip, but the video won’t play, do you have a short passage that shares the same information you could read. What if you can’t hear some of the students, is there a way you can still get them to participate without sound? More than likely there will be some little glitch that comes up and if you can try to anticipate it and plan for it, you’ll remain calm and cool during your lesson.
Set very clear expectations during the lesson.
At the start of your lesson, make sure you clearly set your expectations. Let the students know when and how you want them to participate. Give them a heads up about the flow of the lesson. Let them know about how long each part of the lesson will take and clue them in to how you will be assessing them at the end. The clearer you are with them up front, the more likely they are to follow your directions and actively engage with you during your lesson.
Create a digital agenda for your lesson.
Visual cues are so helpful both in the classroom and during distance learning. Having a visual lesson agenda that you can review at the start of the lesson will help your students know where you are headed, and it will help you stay on track. This will also be helpful for the admin team that is observing you, they will be able to get an idea of where you lesson is headed from the very beginning.
Make sure you involve and engage the students.
While you are the one being interviewed, an important part of teaching is involving and engaging the students. Even though these are new students that you have never met before and you have NO idea what is going to come out of their mouth when you ask them questions, don’t be afraid to engage with them during the lesson. The admin team who is interviewing you will most definitely be looking for how you interact with the students.
Smile and have fun.
Interviewing can be nerve-wracking, but remember why you are doing it – you love teaching. Use your interview and model lesson as a chance to show the admin team how much you love teaching and how excited you are to join their team. A smile and a little enthusiasm can go a LOOOOONNNNNGGGGG way! You got this!
While the idea of doing a virtual lesson as part of an interview might feel a little terrifying, I know you can absolutely rock it. Use the tips that I shared with you in this post to put together an awesome lesson that will just wow the admin team that is interviewing you. And really, that last tip is the most important one to remember! Good Luck! I hope your lesson goes well!
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Figurative Language Mini-Book
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