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Lesson advice for interview

  1. Feb 3, 2016 #1

    I am about to have my first ever job interview for a teaching role, I am not even an NQT yet, I am still on my PGCE. The school I am being interviewed for are among the top grammar schools in the country and obviously have very high standards. I am doubtful I will get it as I am so inexperienced but I want to give it a good go.

    I have been told I need to prepare a lesson for a class of highly gifted year 10 girls on the topic of Newton's second law of motion. I am very comfortable with the subject matter and I'm sure I could put together a straight forward lesson to teach it to a group of students but I have been advised to make it as fun and interactive as possible to impress at interview, and also to stretch the students as they are very good at Physics.

    Does anyone have any interesting ideas they could share with me that could be a fun and interactive way of teaching this topic in 30 minutes?

    Since 30 minutes isn't long and I don't know the labs at all I am reluctant to do a practical that is really complicated.

    I would really appreiate any help. Thanks a lot.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    They will judge you within the first 5 to 10 minutes. Everything after has only small effects. (I know many people will protest on this statement but I've experienced it in roughly 250 interviews. It rarely has been not so.)
    The best you can do is: BE YOURSELF!
    Don't pretend to be funnier than you are or try to do some tricks. They will recognize, even the students. Sometimes it helps to imagine that you don't need to succeed: "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose". That can give you sovereignty. However, such an autosuggestion depends on whether it might work for you or not.
    Be yourself and be sovereign (not arrogant!) is the best advice I can give you. You may be a showman for a 30 minute lesson, but not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow or next week unless you are really one, which I can't know.
    And don't be afraid of questions you can't answer right away. Pass them onto the class or write it on the chalkboard. That gives you time to think about it!

    Yesterday I've watched a video of a Feynman lecture. Very general topic. Watch it, it might help you to get a feeling for the situation.
  4. Feb 3, 2016 #3


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    Think-pair-share is an easy and good way to get participation. When you first give them the question, they're not allowed to talk to each other. They have to come up with their own answers, and then you take a vote. If it's easy, most (north of 80%) of them should get it right, and you can move on. If less than half get it right, there's probably a problem with the question, so find out if that's what's going on and provide any clarification if needed. It might also signal to you that you glossed over a point that you should talk about a bit more. If between 50% and 80% get it right, tell them to convince a neighbor that their answer is right. When they're ready, take another vote.
  5. Feb 3, 2016 #4
    Yeah, 30 minutes is really short. I like vela's idea. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to prepare some demonstrations and see if the students could explain them in terms of Newton's laws. There's plenty you can do with common items. If you prepare 6 good demonstrations that will probably be more than you need for the 1/2 hour. If you need some ideas just say so!
  6. Feb 3, 2016 #5


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    My advice is to practice giving the lecture and have someone record the video, then play it back and watch it. Although this may be a little painful, you will be amazed how much this helps. It gives you a chance to see yourself as others see you. Don't hesitate to do this more than once if you want to see an improvement.
  7. Feb 3, 2016 #6
    I agree that is a good thing to do, but I'm not sure I would go to the trouble during an interview. That is something to do to improve your practice once you are in!
  8. Feb 4, 2016 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    I have forgotten to mention one really important advice:

    In the case you use slices, powerpoint or whatever: Do not give the DJ!

    It's a commonly made mistake by inexperienced to have far too many slices which they try to rush through. 10 are already too many for 30 minutes.Take 5 or 6 at most. Therefore it is better to use the chalkboard, it slows you down (usually). A look at a Feynman lecture can really help.
  9. Feb 4, 2016 #8
    I resisted using slides for a long time because my least favorite classes were heavy on powerpoint when I was in college. I've since changed my mind. When I'm writing on the white board I can't see the students, but when I'm using slides then I can. I've been able to get the pacing just right using slides because it is easier to gauge when the class is ready to more on.

    For this interview I don't think it will much matter if you use one or the other as long as you engage the students.
  10. Feb 5, 2016 #9
    Hi everyone, thanks for all the great tips. Just to neatly tie this off I thought I'd let you know that I got the job. Thanks again.
  11. Feb 6, 2016 #10


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    Congrats. What did you end up doing for your teaching demo?
  12. Feb 6, 2016 #11
    I used a simulation from PHET, they have such great simulations. It was the motion and forces basics one. I had one of the students come up to have a go at changing all of the variables and moving everything around while I explained what was going on, which was good fun. Then I finished with a couple of AS style problems to try and stretch them a bit. Then finally I showed a one minute video of the Apollo 15 mission where one of the astronauts demonstrates dropping a feather and a hammer on the moon.
  13. Apr 2, 2016 #12
    Sounds solid! Now it's time to do that everyday! I'm sure you'll rock!
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