Teaching a lesson

Teaching a lesson

by Academy Admin

You may be asked to teach a lesson as part of the selection process. This is an opportunity for you to show your:

  • classroom craft skills of resource, pupil and behaviour management
  • subject knowledge and understanding
  • pedagogic skills of questioning, engagement and informal assessment
  • lesson planning skills
  • understanding of the rationale for your teaching through your lesson plan

There are five parts to your preparation:

  • identifying a computer-based lesson
  • identifying the unplugged alternative
  • resourcing the lesson
  • creating the lesson plan
  • ensuring you have a “lesson in the backpocket”

Check what resources will be available: computers, software, projectors, etc.  ...and plan for problems.

Imagining the lesson

You will most likely be given a topic; if not, choose a topic with which you are familiar.

Segment the time you are given. The first five minutes is the time to show your confidence in your subject and status as a teacher. Take control of the class, get everyone’s attention by your position and assertiveness and make it clear that everyone should be turned facing you and listening. Give a clear, direct and pacey exposition on the topic. Show enthusiasm and smile. 

Then give the pupils some clear instructions for the activity they are to carry out for the next 15 minutes. Check that they understand before letting them start. Tell them the time that they have. Some schools like learning outcomes - express them clearly.

During the hands-on time, circulate around the room; engage with individuals asking them what they are doing and checking that they know what to do next.

After 9 minutes, stop them. Make sure all are listening by making them turn away from their computers (screen off?). Praise two people for their good work and remind the class of 1 or 2 salient points. Tell them that they have 5 minutes left.

Around the middle of the teaching session stop the class, gain their full attention (which may mean: screens off, turn seats around, move pupils closer to the front. Give the second exposition taking the topic forward. Make sure that this follow-up activity is do-able even by those who have not completed the first activity - make it different in terms of teaching approach. If the first was, say designing code on the screen, the second could be small group discussion and collaborative drawing, individually completing a grid, doing an online quiz, writing some prose describing the concept being taught. Your exposition should make the basics very clear so that ALL pupils will be able to do something but make the instructions open-ended so the most able can extend the activity. Send them back to their computers/work space. As before, monitor their work - engage with the pupils. Well before the end of the teaching period draw them back together for a plenary in which you remind them of what they have learned during the session. A quiz, interactive questioning, game or physical activity shows that you have a range of teaching strategies.

Before the end of the lesson tell the pupils what the exit certificate is to be, tell them to save their work, log-off and complete certificate (for example, a single post-it note that you had placed by the side of each computer as they were logging off). 

If required to dismiss the class - expect them to stand behind their chairs, you stand near the door and dismiss the class by small groups, smiling and saying goodbye as they leave.

Planning the lesson

Taking a lesson plan with you to the lesson can show that you are organised, know how to plan, have an awareness of the issues of differentiation, assessment, means of engagement, subject knowledge.

The lesson plan should outline the curriculum content, the chronology and the assessment opportunities - the 5-minute lesson plan. However, you are trying to convince people that you are an outstanding teacher. The lesson plan is the opportunity to show the interviewers your understanding and motivations that you might not get a chance to show in the lesson itself.

Consider making reference to each of these on your lesson plan:

What is the “lesson in the back pocket”?

Being prepared for those occasions when:

  • the technology fails
  • the materials/plans just failed
  • the pupils work through the lesson faster than you thought; OR
  • you have to cover and teach a class at short notice.

Always have a back-pocket lesson to hand.

Advice regarding referees