So your DOS tells you that you’re ready to start doing small star demos, brilliant! So excited! You observe a lot of your colleagues doing demos on a daily basis so why not you? You watch a few and write up a lesson plan, you sit down with your DOS to explain what you’re going to do and the pair of you even come up with a gimmick to win the instant popularity vote with parents and kids (a bubble wand ain’t gonna cut it this time). Your demo is scheduled for the weekend, you prepare yourself in plenty time – think Rocky montage – you get into the room and greet the kids. Not so bad really. You think ‘this is fine, what’s all the fuss about?’. Then the clock strikes and it’s your time to begin…. oh wait, I have to introduce myself and talk to the parents?? Oh s#!*£ the one bit I didn’t write down, oh well I’m here now with several pairs of judging eyes, do they know what I’m saying, maybe not… the CC will make me sound kick ass… I hope!? Oh this kid is not into this, he really doesn’t like me or high fives. Just keep smiling and I’m sure he’ll warm up to this soon!
The thing you have to remember is that although demo’s are there so you can make sales and have more students at your school, it’s not you that has to make the sales target. It’s the CC’s. Yes it’s wonderful when you hear that a few demo students have signed up, you feel like it’s all worth it. But if they don’t don’t be disheartened. There are a number of factors that a kid won’t sign up, one being they’re here with their grandparents who can’t make financial decisions without the parent, another might be that the time of the class is not suitable for them or that it’s too expensive. When it comes down to it, you’re the last thing that makes them not want to join the school… unless you have a really ‘fake’ smile, one colleague told me. Yes, the parents want to know who you are and how you teach but in reality they want to know the facts so you’ve nothing to worry about really.
Things to remember for your demo:
1. Smile! Always smile! Even when things go wrong a smile makes the parents think you’re in control. And it’s charming and welcoming.
2. The parents and kids don’t know the script! They don’t know what you’re going to do. Yes you’ve told them you’re doing a bit of phonics and learning the animals but other than that they don’t know that you’re supposed to 4 or 5 IWB activities, they don’t know that you have a basket of animals or that you want them to form a circle and repeat ‘c-c-cat, d-d-dog’. You know what you need to do in the time you’re given but they don’t, so if you make a mistake move on and no one will catch on.
3. Most importantly, have fun! These are new kids you haven’t seen before and they have never met you and may not speak any English. If they see a stressed out adult they’ll run to their mum and never return. Let them know you’re on their side and don’t be afraid to get silly.
4. Encourage every kid. If they say ‘cat’ give them a clap and a high five, if they say ‘ca’ do the same. If they don’t want to let go of their mum, get the mum up to and ask her to say it with you. High five the mum too then the kid even if they haven’t said anything. They will think they’ve done something great.
5. Smile! Yes it’s in here twice. It’s really nice for parents to a happy teacher. They feel welcomed and at ease.
6. Greet the parents as well as the kids. Parents want attention too and the teacher-parent relationship is vital for helping and encouraging the student at every stage.
Once you’ve done a couple they become second nature to you and it’s just like teaching a normal class, only in half the time. You’ll be prepared for every scenario; troublesome kids, crying kids, kids who just don’t want to be there or even doing a demo with only one kid in the room. you’ll get into the swing of things and soon shouting ‘c-c-cat’ into room of uninterested 3 year olds will not phase you. Nor will the parents or grandparents staring blankly at you the entire time. You’ll forget about the glass door and the crowd of strangers outside gawking at you being the clown and you’ll learn to laugh at everything stupid that happens to you or to the kids. You’ll develop a knack for handling heckles from the kids and also pick up some Chinese too! Demos are daunting but are really worth it as a nice break to your usual routine of familiar students and lessons. For 30 minutes you get to entertain a whole new bunch of kids and show them that learning English is fun.