The problem - I have had interviews for a few teaching jobs but feel I let myself down in the observed lesson. I'm not sure how those lessons are marked or how to pitch them, and I have had a bit of low-level disruption in them. Any advice, please?

Tom Bennett

What you said

Your lesson needs to stand out, so don't play safe. Think of some exciting science experiment or art activity. Acknowledge on your lesson plan that it could get noisy, but that you want pupils to be enthused. Don't go for a lesson that involves handing out endless bits of paper, as the pupils can become restless.

Fiona McDonnel

The expert view

Lessons are crucial in interviews: the school wants to know how you are rather than how you appear on paper. Without watching your lessons, it is hard to be specific, but here are some general points.

1. Every minute counts. Have a clear structure - three parts is fine. Include a brief starter that grabs their attention - and the observer's. Follow this with a good main that introduces new content. Get them using this content so they aren't too passive. At the end, check their learning with a decent plenary to show progress.

2. If pupils muck around, bring them in with a gentle touch. So if the bad behaviour is low level, a low-level response works best. Tap the desk, wait for them to stop talking, say "thanks" when they do.

3. If the bad behaviour is serious, you may want to take them outside - for a short lesson, this can be a useful containment tactic. Just make sure you nip outside and get them back in if possible. A good observer should not expect perfect behaviour, but be looking for what you do about misbehaviour.

4. If the bad behaviour is really serious, get the observer involved. If you do not, you look weak. Ask about the behaviour code before you start the lesson. That way you will be forewarned.

5. Indicate that good behaviour is important. Send out cues about what you expect: be there first; have resources set out and aims on the board; look them in the eye as they come in; tell them to sit in their normal seats; and introduce yourself with confidence. Positivity goes a long way.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher.

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