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Tips on giving a good trial lesson

How do you give a good trial lesson?

A trial lesson can be daunting, so we've put together some support to help you prepare and feel confident in the classroom.

Information gathering

First things first - don't panic! The goal of an observed lesson is ultimately to show that you have enthusiasm for teaching and your subject, and that you can plan, build relationships with the pupils and engage them in learning. The best way to do this in one lesson is to keep it simple.

A school will give you guidelines about what they're expecting in the trial lesson and this check list will help you make sure you've thought of everything and are in a good position to plan a good, responsive lesson.

What is the age and size of the class?
What are the current levels of the pupils?
Are there any specific SEN or gifted and talented pupils in the class?
What guidance have you got on the topic / subject to be taught?
How long is the lesson? This is basic but we've seen many teachers get this wrong!
What resources are available for you?
What support will be available - is there a TA in the class?
Who's observing you?
Is there a school planning proforma they want you to use?

The lesson plan

Create a lesson plan that has a clear structure and direction, but that is still flexible, as the class could take things in a new direction. It's important to keep the class on track and make sure you have some extension activities to hand.

Ensure you have very clear learning objectives that you can assess by the end of the lesson through defined success criteria. Within your plan, include a range of activities - some teacher led, some individual work and maybe some pair or group work. It's also important to ensure you've planned to meet the needs of different learning styles and consider differentiation.

Keep things simple, and try to avoid the urge to use too much complex equipment. Remember it is the quality of your interaction that is being observed, not your IWB skills!

Lastly, make sure you've done some house keeping, creating some well presented, typed copies of your plan to provide to each of your observers.

Starting the lesson

Give a copy of the lesson plan to the observers and introduce yourself. If you have a TA, start building a rapport early, and make sure they are clear on what you need from them. If you can, try to get access to the classroom before the pupils arrive so you can set up and give yourself a minute to familiarise yourself with the setting.

Make sure you know of the school routine for beginning a lesson. By following the usual routine, you'll demonstrate you can fit in with the school, and you'll help to settle the class. Greet the pupils positively and confidently as they're arriving, and introduce yourself for the class. Don't be afraid to let the class know why you're there, and be positive!

As you start the lesson, be clear and enthusiastic about the objectives to help get them engaged, and let the class know what they will be able to do/have achieved by the end of the lesson. Get pupils to hand out any resources, as delegating will show you can build relationships.

Use praise from the start, and if you can, pick up names to elicit a good response, and show that you value their contribution, such as "Callum, great! I can see you've taken your coat off and are writing the date in your book already, good work".

The lesson

As the lesson progresses, keep a high level of energy and vary the activities. Move around, speaking to the class as they work. Try and make sure you speak to everyone and use praise to engage the pupils. Make sure you keep checking understanding and refer back to the lesson objectives through the use of mini plenaries.

In the final phase, bring the class together, draw conclusions from the activity, and summarise the learning - what do they know that they didn't know before? Leave the class with suggestions for extending or practising what you've taught them.

After the lesson

After the lesson ensure you reflect on what went well, what didn't go so well and why and what you would do differently.

What would you do in the next lesson if you were teaching the class again?
Who do you think was struggling in the class and who was finding it easy?

Be prepared to discuss this in the interview with the observers.  It's important to demonstrate self reflection in your teaching practice, and it's great to help you develop and improve, even if you don't get that role.

Other tips

Anticipate how you are going to manage behaviour in order to maximise learning and engage the class. You can try to pre-empt the behaviour with methods such as rewards, jobs, and the support of the TA.
Make sure you know the school's Behaviour Policy- it's often on the school website.
Think about the observation process for Ofsted and their teaching and learning criteria in your planning and delivery.
Be yourself and stick to your usual style of teaching – you need to feel comfortable and let your teaching style and skills shine!

It's easy to get nervous, but try to remain positive, an observation is a great source of CPD. Ask for feedback, and think about the comments given to help you develop as a teacher.

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