The Teaching Demo

This post feels more than a little presumptuous and egotistical, but I’m going to go there anyway and see what people think. Below, you will find the slideshow from a teaching demo that I had to do at a recent interview. I’m happy to report that, in fact, it was a recent successful interview. My slides are by no means a “how to” manual, but I’m hoping they will provide a starting point for talking about how one navigates the teaching demo portion of an interview, particularly when you know you’re speaking to a room full of professors who are just pretending to be students.

This particular slideshow was produced for a CEGEP interview in a Humanities Department. Interestingly, CEGEPs take history to be a social science, and humanities courses are usually taught by members of one of the other humanities disciplines. Now, I’ve always felt a little schizophrenic as a historian – the discipline is notoriously divided between humanists and social scientists – but the CEGEP application process has really hammered the point home. By subject matter, I’m a historian, and thus belong in the Social Sciences Department; by methodology and self-identification, I’m a humanist and should be in Humanities.

CEGEPS offer Humanities courses in three fields: Knowledge, World Views, and Ethics. I got Ethics. So, if nothing else, this is a good case study in having to give a talk in something way outside your comfort zone. I was given 1 week to prepare a short talk (these things are usually 10-15 minutes) on the ethical issues surrounding minorities within the context of larger social structures. I was told that I could approach it from my own disciplinary perspective, and that PowerPoint would be allowed, but no further instruction was given.

Here are the questions that immediately sprung to mind:

  1. What level should the presentation be pitched to? Ethics is a senior-level CEGEP course, so roughly akin to first-year university students. And yet, CEGEP students are not university students.  And then there’s the problem of the multiple levels of aptitude one encounters in any given class.
  2. How do I deal with the problem of having to talk about something that would come up mid-way through a course without the benefit of being able to assume students know things and still fit it into 10-ish minutes?
  3. How do I deal with the fact that I need to prove that I can lecture in such a way that students can actually take notes, when the people in front of me aren’t students and aren’t taking notes (this is important because if you slow to note-taking pace when there are no notes, it gets very dull very quickly)
  4. What do I do about those places where I usual have a dialogue with the class?

Ok, so… you can see how I decided to deal with all of these issues for yourself. Before you view the slideshow though, I just wanted to mention one last thing. You will notice that during the second slide I whip along at warp-speed. I thought about recording the voiceover again, but then I thought better of it. I decided instead to follow Oliver Cromwell’s example and provide you with a true portrait, “warts and all.” Besides, when I get nervous, I do speed up – I did the day of the interview too, and I still got the job. I guess what I’m saying is this. The key to dealing with the teaching demo isn’t a flawless delivery of whatever you may have planned; it’s an expert recovery when you inevitably mess up. Or, at least that’s my opinion anyway.

Sarah Waurechen_Marianopolis_Guest Lecture


The articles I distributed were:

“White Liberal Dude Privilege Syndrome”

“Welfare cut to failed refugees awaiting deportation”


2 thoughts on “The Teaching Demo

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