You’re ecstatic, your interview went wonderfully, and the school seems to want to hire you. A few hours after you’ve wrapped up your video call interview, you get an email from the school saying, “We think you may be a great fit for our school! Would you be willing to do a demo lesson for our hiring managers?”
For many new teachers, this is a terrifying request. Teaching a mock lesson (especially a lesson meant for young learners) to a small group of adults can be both uncomfortable and nerve-wracking. Many schools employ this practice as part of their application process, and if you're planning on becoming a teacher in China, you should be prepared to amaze any administrators you’ll be presenting a demo lesson to.
If you are new to the teaching profession, I would like to give you some basic guidelines on how to teach an impressive demo lesson. I’ll admit, your demo lesson probably won’t be perfect, but if you follow my advice and properly prepare for your demo lesson, it will drastically improve your chances of getting an excellent job offer.
I know, it may be a little cliché, but when you find out you have a demo lesson coming up and you lack any teaching experience, panic can ensue. Relax. You can still demonstrate to this school or company that you have great potential as an educator. Understand that you now have to go through the same process that you will have to go through, daily and weekly, as an actual classroom teacher. Sit down, get out your laptop or notebook, grab yourself a coffee, take a deep breath, and begin the first step of the teaching process:
#2 Understand the Materials
Many schools will provide you with materials to use for your lesson. The first thing you want to do when you get those materials is look for the key points covered. If you’re blanking on potential classroom activity ideas, look online at websites like Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachnology. Chances are, a more experienced teacher out there has shared some very effective activities for teaching the content you need to cover, and you can build their ideas into your lesson. Once you have a few ideas of things you would like to do, you can move onto the next step:
#3 Lesson Plan
Lesson planning is an art. It involves the visualizing of your class’s activities, the budgeting of precious time, and developing a metaphorical roadmap toward what you want your students to achieve. The purpose of this demonstration lesson is to prove that you are able to lesson plan, manage your time, and focus on learning objectives. Take a look at this lesson plan template. It has all the basic components of a complete lesson plan in compartmentalized boxes. If you are able to put a lesson together that fills those boxes and accomplishes a specific learning objective (or student outcome), it will undoubtedly impress the observing panel of administrators. Now let’s go over a couple tips for when you are actually teaching the lesson:
#4 Pay attention to interaction patterns
In being an ESL teacher, a primary focus of your teaching is communication. Because of this focus, you will want to make sure your mock students have a considerable amount of communication time. You should definitely start out with a little self-introduction, but keep it short. After your self-intro, and a short intro of what you’re teaching, get the students talking! For example, if your lesson is about “small talk questions,” get the students to ask the example questions to one another. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I have sat in on multiple demo lessons taught by inexperienced teachers, and they usually spend too much time on direct communication between each individual student and the teacher. Allowing the lesson to be student-centered is an advanced teaching skill, and if you can demonstrate that you're able to teach a student-centered lesson, it will lead the hiring managers to believe that you are a very promising teacher.
#5 Correct mistakes
This is a pedagogical argument that will rage on for eternity. Some say you shouldn’t correct students (if they were able to verbally relay their meaning to the listener), some say you should always correct students (even their minor errors). At the end of the day, the success or failure of your application will most certainly be decided by a panel of Chinese education professionals. According to my experiences and understanding of Chinese education, fixing mistakes is an important part of a teacher’s role in the classroom. The mock students you’re teaching may consciously make a mistake just to see if you will correct it. Take that bait and correct their pronunciation and grammatical mistakes. If you can show that you're an attentive teacher, it will improve the strength of your application.
Another mistake I have seen demo teachers make is forgetting to recap the lesson. This portion of a lesson fortifies the retention of the learning objectives, and is just as important as the introduction and instruction of the lesson’s primary content. When you have a couple minutes left of lesson time, go over what you’ve taught, check for understanding, and ask students to demonstrate what they have learned!
Good luck on your demo!
If you're currently working your way through an application at a school and have a demo coming up, don’t be afraid! You’ll do just fine. If you follow the steps and guidelines in this article, you’ll be able to teach your demo to the best of your ability. Teaching is a profession that takes time, patience, and a little bit of experimentation to master. If you have a demo lesson coming up and would like some help or suggestions, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am an English teacher of seven years, taught in China for five years, hold a teaching credential in the state of California, and am currently a semester away from holding a masters degree in education. On top of this, I have taught many demo lessons during my own applications for teaching positions. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you’re feeling nervous about teaching your demo. The China Jobs Daily team and I are here to help!
（By: Ted Salonek）