Tips for Successful Teaching Demos

Teaching demos are a common yet sometimes harrowing part of tenure-track interviews. Still, there are steps that candidates can take beforehand to make sure they are adequately prepared for the task, writes Kevin Gannon, professor of history at Grand View University and director of its Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, in a recent story in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Gannon describes criteria that search committees use to evaluate teaching demos, including how a candidate approaches teaching, how students react to the candidate’s teaching, and how a candidate responds to difficult or unexpected situations.

Candidates should consider many points before a teaching demo such as what type of class they will be teaching, what the classroom setup is, whether or not it will be a traditional class session, and what technology plan they’d like to use. For the latter point, Gannon recommends creating a technology plan with ample practice leading up to the demo, a suitable room, and steps to follow if something goes wrong during the demo. It doesn’t hurt to reach out to the search committee or department ahead of time to get answers to these questions, Gannon writes in the story.

“Ideally, the search committee and/or a departmental representative will share enough information and suggestions to make your planning process relatively easy. If not, though, don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. An email — with wording like ‘I’m looking forward to the opportunity to teach a sample class for your department. As I plan the session, I was wondering if I could get a little more information about …’ — is a perfectly acceptable step to take,” Gannon writes.