I know that now is the time when many college seniors are preparing demo lessons for their interviews at organizations like Teach for America and New York City Teaching Fellows. I remember how concerned I was this time last year, so, from someone who has been there and survived, here are some tips:
1. The most important things are enthusiasm and timing.
Believe it or not, content is not very important in these demo lessons. Far more important is the enthusiasm you show, your ability to hold your audience and your time management skills. Five minutes is not very long, and the interviewers know that. They don't expect you to teach all of quantum mechanics. They want to see that you can engage students and deliver a coherent lesson without either running out of time or (and this is worse in an actual classroom) finishing too early and having time left over. I did these interviews twice: the first time, I ran over a little bit and didn't finish asking my final question, and the second time I finished with exactly 5 seconds remaining. I only got the second job.
2. Practice, practice, practice!
The only way to be able to stay within the time limit is to practice, keeping in mind that you will tend to talk a bit faster when you are nervous. If you can, practice in front of a live, impartial audience and actually pass out the materials and write on a board or chart paper as you intend to do during the real presentation. Prepare answers to possible questions as well, and expect the interviewers to answer things incorrectly or be slightly disruptive. They want to see what you will do in these situations, so be ready.
3. Don't choose a lesson just because you think it will be easy. Make it interesting.
As much as we don't like to think of ourselves as babysitters, a large part of what teachers do is occupy time for children. That is why choosing an interesting and engaging lesson is so important. In my two interviews, I saw several lessons on the scientific method and even more on elementary-level grammar. Not that adjectives aren't interesting, but I can only imagine how many similar lessons the interviewers saw. With hundreds and thousands of applicants, you need to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Try to pick a topic that is inherently hands-on or interactive, or if you must do a lesson on adjectives, find a way to make it different. Use the Scope and Sequence and Performance Standards to guide your lesson selection and keep it focused. Remember, you only have 5 minutes, so rather than teaching the whole scientific method, why not stick to hypotheses and discuss them in more depth? Ask the students to volunteer their own hypotheses about a question that you pose.
4. Be prepared.
Make sure you have everything you need before leaving for the interview. Here's what I brought: my resume, the required readings, my demo lesson plan, handouts for the demo, pens, pencils, markers, scotch tape and visual aids for the presentation. Arrive early and be ready to talk about why you want to become a teacher.
5. Be yourself and try to stay calm.
Remember, you are at this interview because you are passionate about teaching under-served children, so let your passion and even your idealism show through. More than anything else, that is what the interviewers are looking for because without hope and desire to do good, you will not make it as a teacher.
Good luck! I hope you get in!