Helping Teachers Make a Difference in the Lives of Their Students

How to Nail the Interview for a Teaching Position – Nail #3: Creative Lesson Planning

how-to-nail-teaching

This is the third installment of the Nail Your Interview for a Teaching Position series.

You can find the first and second nails here:

Nail 1: Building Positive Relationships

Nail 2: Know Your Common Core

The third Nail is Creativity in Lesson Planning.

Most likely, there will be a question asking you what process you go through when planning a lesson.

There is no ONE right answer, but there are ways to get this wrong.

For example, don’t make the textbook the most important part of your lesson plan design. Although there are sample lesson plans in each textbook, they are designed for the “typical” student. The textbook is not specific to the students in your class. I didn’t like using the textbook when I taught. It was more of a reference than the primary learning tool.

Also, don’t make lecturing or direct teaching the primary mode of instruction in your class. Although you might see yourself standing in front of the class, giving a highly-engaging lecture while students sit awestruck listening intently to every word you say, that’s not reality. After 20 years of teaching, I was pretty good at telling stories and keeping my students’ attention, but never for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. I had to mix it up.

So what is a good answer for the lesson planning question?

I’m glad you asked.

Like I said, there isn’t ONE right answer, but here’s what you should include:

  1. Identify the standard that you are going to teach. (Write the standard in kid-friendly terms on the board, so the kids know what they’re learning.)
  2. Open up with a quick warm up lesson. Make this something that is interesting or cool or surprising. Don’t make it just busy work. The last thing you want is one of your less motivated students getting you upset in the beginning of the class, because he would rather talk to his friend instead of doing the boring warm up. You also want to have the kids come in every morning wondering what crazy thing the teacher is going to have them do to begin the class. Be creative – even in the warm up.
  3. Begin the main activity. Again, make it different than what other teachers do. Let the interview panel know that what you enjoy most about lesson planning is coming up with creative, out-of-the-box activities designed to connect with all learning styles in your classroom. Include examples such as cooperative learning groups, partners, walk-around-the-classroom activities, go-outside activities, etc. As an Assistant Principal, I’m looking for teachers who are creative and innovative in the classroom. The days of the teacher sitting at his/her desk while teaching are gone.
  4. Check for understanding. Part of your lesson plan should include some way to verify that the students are learning the concept before moving on. It could be as simple as a thumbs up-thumbs down check or a formal assessment. If you really want to make some points in the interview (and you want to be an amazing teacher), let them know that one kind of assessment doesn’t fit all. Some students may know the concept, but have a difficult time with tests. Unless you’re assessing writing ability, you can find out if a student knows the concept by allowing him/her to orally share their answers instead of demonstrating their knowledge on a test.
  5. Make your lesson about student discovery, not teacher telling. Common Core is changing how instruction is delivered, and if your lesson planning is primarily focused on you, then you won’t nail the interview. You want to let the panel know that you’re all about having the kids active in their learning. You serve as a facilitator and a guide on their journey to learning. This kind of teaching will not only impress the interview panel, but it will make you a rare teacher in this new landscape of education. Eventually, more teachers will step away from the “Sage on the Stage” role, but for now, you will be a rare and valuable asset to the school.

So there you have it, the third nail in your preparation for your interview: Creativity in Lesson Planning.

I hope you’re finding these posts helpful. If so, please share them on Twitter or on Facebook. That would be cool.

Follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page, so you get notified when I upload Nail #4.

Until next time, here’s to your Success in the Classroom!

Thank you,

Sam

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