This week consisted of 2 demo lessons, 3 interviews, and answering online interview questions within 3 days.
That marks my 12th interview, 3rd demo lesson, and the 3rd district I’ve moved beyond the initial screening process with.
And I’m flat out exhausted. I am waiting to hear back for 5 different places, I’ve gotten 3 rejection phone calls, one rejection email, and one district I never even heard back from.
So I decided I am going to deliver my own experience of interviews and demo lesson.
When you Google “Teaching interviews” and “teaching demo lessons,” the search results will consist of beneficial tips and tidbits about how you need to make sure you bring your portfolio, enough copies of your lesson plan and resume, look the part, make eye contact. In a seminar held by my university, human resources representatives told us don’t mention our “student teaching” experience but just phrase it as our professional teaching experience.
While all of these tips have helped me immensely in this process, here’s the down and dirty from someone who is going through it at this very second.
- While in the interview, I keep my hands under the table or holding on to my portfolio. Otherwise, I’ll be flapping them around. I’m Italian, what can I say? We talk with our hands.
- I also ALWAYS wear a blazer in an interview. Not only does it make me look professional, it will also hide any sweat stains. Nervous sweat is a real thing.
- I chew anywhere between 2 and 6 Altoids before I go into a school. They give me fresh breath, biting helps me work out some of the tension in my body, and the minty flavor helps settle my stomach.
- Even after my 12 interviews, I have found that there is NO WAY to read the panel. There have been interviews I have left thinking that there is no way I will get a call back and then I do. Others I felt like I smashed and then a few days later I get an email saying they’re “moving in another direction.” Great.
- Although there is no way to read the panel, it will not stop you from analyzing every move that you did. Did they think I fidgeted because I pushed my hair off my shoulders right before the interview started? Did they notice how many times I said “um?” Did I speak to the school’s mission statement well enough? Do they think I have enough experience? Will I be a good fit? The questions will not stop until I receive a phone call or email.
- And if that call or emails comes with bad news, the analysis will continue. At least it then becomes a learning experience, but it still very much stings. Like my other post, it makes you question your own philosophy, your experience, your ability. It never ends. Until it starts all over again with another district.
- BE PREPARED. I am prepared for ANY circumstance that may arise. I have 50 name tags, 7 different marker, crayon, and pencil boxes, 12 lesson plans although the panel consisted of 5 people, 8 pieces of anchor chart paper with the objective already written. I will actually practice my script in the car ride over so I don’t stutter. I envision possibilities of the path my lesson may take.
- Breathe. Right before I take over, I breathe. I introduce myself and set the scene. I also don’t ever ever ever look at the adults who are watching my every move. Because they will. The principal of one demo lesson followed me to the three different groups of students I worked with. Another one took pictures of my anchor chart.
- Again, try not to over-think (which oh so easier said than done). I’ve had committees get up and walk out halfway through, another left before my closure. At the end, I just try to reflect on what I did well and what I could have improved on. There is no way that it will be a perfect lesson. Usually the topics given are vague and broad. The kids are not my kids. I don’t know if I have exactly what they are looking for. But I know who I am as an educator so my goal is to represent myself as best as I can.
At the end of the day, this process is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have had many opportunities to express who I am as a teacher and to feel over and over again like people don’t want me is incredibly harsh. Being a teacher is at the core of my being so to feel that I am not wanted is hurtful and raw and it stings. This is exhausting. I put my heart and soul and brain on the line every time I meet a new panel or teach a demo. You have to be 110% as soon as you walk in the school. Someone asked me if I feel like I’m getting better at this. Honestly, I’m not sure if I am. Parts of it, yes absolutely. But I’m finding that rejections are becoming harder to swallow. Is it early? Yes. It is also incredibly humbling. I really thought I would have been employed by now. I have a lot of wonderful teachers tell me how wonderful they think I am. And there have been a lot of schools who decided I am not as wonderful as I thought I was for them. I am in a waiting game to find a school who thinks I am as wonderful as I think I am.
So there you have it. Interviews and demo lessons 101 from someone who is living this stressful, hard, vulnerable, intellectual, exciting, nerve-wracking process as we speak.