The POWER of the DEMONSTRATION LESSON for new ESL teacher applicants

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For many language centres around the world, there are a huge number of problems they have to face in order to get the best teachers they can to suit their school needs and budget. To ask for a demonstration lesson as part of the recruitment process is for some an extremely challenging concept.

Firstly I would like to present the reasons why schools may not opt for this critical part of the teachers recruitment:

  1. The teacher may be outside the country and not willing to come to your country simply in the off chance their demonstration lesson may be successful and they may get a job.
  2. The concept of a demonstration lesson does require someone who is highly knowledgeable about teaching to view it and give feedback and the school may not have one on their team.
  3. This person who is observing may not be the owner of the school and in turn though the school may be desperate for a teacher, the person observing the teacher may say no to the proposed teacher and the owner is stuck in a bind.
  4. A demonstration lesson is quite scary, and if the owner of the school is desperate for a teacher, they may not want to frighten the teacher away, so is more likely to offer them the job on the spot in the interview or even over a skype interview before anyone else offers them a job.

All these are quite fair points, particularly if you are living in a non-native English country and are yourself not a non-native English speaker but owner of the school.

However I would like to press upon the reasons why we do ask for a demonstration lesson:

  1. Following the interview the teacher is requested to do a demonstration lesson and needs to present a lesson plan on the day.
  2. The prospective teacher’s interview doesn’t end when they leave the bosses room, the Director of Studies (when giving them the guidelines for the demonstration lesson) is observing how open the person is to receiving guidance and feedback, and how many and what kind of questions they ask concerning the lesson.
  3. The planning in itself when presented on the day, tells the Director of Studies exactly what kind of ideas they had and how well they deal with no sticking to the plan…which is perfectly okay so long as it is justified.
  4. The observation of the lesson itself is a total eye opener. It tells the observer not only how well they know their stuff, but how well they can relate to students and how responsive they are if things are not going to plan.
  5. The follow up discussion afterwards is the real eye opener, as the teacher is asked first of all to give a brief feedback on how they felt the lesson went. This tells you a lot about whether they can self evaluate…which is critical in a great teacher.
  6. Then finally the response from the prospective teacher to getting feedback on their work. Are they open to it, are they defensive or do they remain unaffected.

All these points tell the school how great a teacher they have on their hands. If the teacher is generally open and responsive to getting feedback and shows that they are keen to work as a team, the job is usually theirs for the taking, however if they are defensive and single-minded, it’s the best danger signal a school can get.

Let’s face it, students choose a school based on the quality of the teachers. If the teachers are good, then the school will do well. But getting the best of the best is not easy, it takes time and effort and often if you make a bad choice along the way, it can backfire badly if you are not careful.

So I want to encourage all schools to make demonstration lessons a mandatory part of the recruitment process, and the long term impact will be certain. Also I want to encourage all teachers to understand how important that demonstration lesson is and to not be afraid. If you are a good teacher, you are a good teacher….the observer will pick you up immediately. Any small error in the class will be considered endearing – it’s all about how you make the come-back.

Enjoy!

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