How to Plan a Sample Lesson for Your Future #bestjobever

by Sarah Murphy Traylor

You have decided to parlay your love of English literature into a career as an educator and delivering a jaw-dropping sample lesson at your final interview is the one thing standing between you and the #bestjobever. We’ve got some great tips to ensure you rock your sample lesson and land your dream job next school year!

    1. Plan, Plan, Plan!  At YES Prep, we provide candidates with a template as well as an exemplar lesson plan. There are also many resources available online. Analyze the examples to see what a great lesson plan looks like. Then, create a plan for the time allotted. You should:
      • State your lesson objective simply.
      • Plan 3-5 key points that students should grasp when they finish the lesson.
      • Select the way you will present this information (PowerPoint, notes, lecture).
      • Plan the way students will process this information (more on this later) and how you will check for understanding.
      • Choose the length of time for each portion of the lesson.
      • Consider what materials you’ll need. You may even want to print materials for students in advance, so you can arrive to campus on the day of the lesson without the added stress of preparing materials.
      • Set behavioral expectations to message to students on the day of the lesson. Reflect on what students will need to do and how you would like them to do it (such as asking or answering questions).


    1. Perfect Your Content. As you assemble your lesson, research your key points to make sure that the information you are sharing is accurate. Research shows that 63% of applicants in the year 2014 submitted applications that contained errors, and errors of any kind must be avoided.


    1. Practice. The first time that you present this lesson should not be on the interview day itself.  When you practice in advance, you become comfortable with the material, refine the way in which you will present information to the students, and can time the lesson to make sure that things are completed within the allotted time frame.  Practice the lesson in front of others or record yourself on your phone to hear what you will say. Utilize a stop watch to time how long it takes for you to deliver content and for students to process the information.


    1. Prepare for Student Processing.  Plan how students will process the information. This processing might occur in a few ways:
      • Written Processing:  Students take notes on the material being learned.
      • Verbal Processing:  Students talk with a partner about the content.
      • Think-Time Processing:  Students use silent time to think about a question that you have just asked and how they will construct an answer.


    1. Interact with Students. Don’t be afraid to connect with students!  Greet students as they come in. Learn their names or let them create name plates, so you can use their names in the lesson.  Building transformative relationships with students is critical to learning, so begin doing so in the interview.


  1. Prepare to Process Feedback. Often, receiving feedback is just as big of a part of your interview day as your sample lesson. This is definitely true at the YES Prep finalist day! Generally, those observing will provide feedback on your strengths and areas for growth. It is natural to feel apprehensive about receiving feedback. However, embrace this as an opportunity to hear how to improve your craft as well as to hear what the school is looking for in exemplary instruction. In other words, acknowledge those nerves you might feel in advance, reflect honestly after the sample lesson on what went well and what could have been better, and listen earnestly to what might enhance your teaching.

Receiving an invitation to teach a lesson as part of an interview process is a tremendous opportunity.  Take a deep breath, give yourself time to plan, and get excited about the chance to engage with a school through teaching its students. Embrace the chance to illustrate your passion for teaching and your strength in your content area. Best of luck and happy teaching!

Sarah Murphy Traylor is a proud graduate of Texas A&M (Undergraduate in 2005, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction in 2012) and has been in education for 11 years.  During her time at YES Prep, Sarah has taught Middle School English, served as an Instructional Coach, and recruited top talent for YES Prep.

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