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Performance Interviews

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Not surprisingly, performance-interview situations are less about the interview and more about the performance. Typically you are not asked any questions (although a few follow-up questions may be posed); rather, you are asked to demonstrate your teaching expertise in a classroom-type or school-related environment. Administrators want to see if you can put your knowledge into practice. Can you teach? Can you handle the ancillary duties that go along with teaching, and can you take your textbook knowledge and demonstrate how it works in practice?

Keep in mind that the situations you may face in these kinds of interviews are artificial (typically, you won't be doing them in a real classroom with real students); nevertheless, you will need to demonstrate the same behaviors, skills, and talents that would be expected of a teacher on a day-to-day basis. The teaching environment may be contrived, but this opportunity to put theory into practice must never be. Don't try to fake your way through one of these experiences—your lack of knowledge or insincerity will come through loud and clear. Think of this as just one more element—one more day—in your student teaching experience, and you'll be surprised at how well you actually do.

Teaching a Lesson

Many schools and districts are asking teacher candidates to teach a demonstration lesson as part of the interview process. In some cases, you may get to select the lesson to be taught; in others, a subject or specific set of objectives are presented to you in order to craft a unique lesson. Often you'll be asked to teach a full lesson (perhaps 45 minutes in length). At other times you may be asked to teach a mini-lesson (an abbreviated form of a standard lesson). In most cases the lesson will not be taught in a regular classroom, but will be presented in a board room, seminar room, or other location in the administrative offices or a special school location. The audience may include a selection of district administrators and, quite possibly, a few classroom teachers.

You may be told to imagine that the assembled administrators and teachers are a class full of students and that you should teach your sample lesson as though you were teaching it to elementary or high school students. One of my former students was asked to teach a specific music lesson to a group of about six administrators. She said the sight of a half-dozen administrators singing and dancing around a conference room was one she will never forget. Another one of my students was asked to teach a life science lesson incorporating two specific science standards. She developed a "hands-on" lesson using earthworms and still fondly remembers the superintendent getting very ill when asked to handle some of the critters (in spite of that [or because of it], she got the job).

Role Playing

In this type of situation, you may be asked to participate in taking on the role of a classroom teacher with an administrator or teacher taking on the role of another individual. Here you will be asked to show how you might handle one of the common experiences of classroom teachers. For example, you might be asked to be a fifth-grade teacher while one of the administrators in the room takes on the role of an angry parent. You'll be asked to interact with the "parent" to see if you can handle the situation, make appropriate decisions, and problem-solve on the spot. You may be asked to assume the role of a high school social studies teacher who must confront a student with a weapon (say, a knife, for example). An administrator or teacher takes on the role of the student, and you must interact with the "student" to defuse the situation.

These are very stressful situations. All your training and education is on public display. You are being watched by a group of individuals to determine if you can think on your feet and handle some of the many situations that often occur without warning. Take some time to practice several situations, and you will be well-prepared to handle these events with confidence and assurance.

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