If you apply to be an instructor it will take 6 to 8 months before you actually teach any classes. They first put you through a very thorough oral exam to test your knowledge of the minute details of the Java language, with surprisingly few questions on the AWT (Advanced Windowing Toolkit) or class libraries. Later you do a sort of hazing ritual called a test teach. You have no idea what is expected of you, other than the general instruction you are supposed to treat your evaluators as if they were real students. They don’t let you audit a sample class beforehand to learn the expected corporate teaching style.
They throw a quite a few curves at you to throw you off balance. It would be unfair to Developmentor to reveal the details. I will just give you a rough idea. They tell you to treat them as students, but they are also evaluators, so you never know for sure how to treat them because they pitch questions at you in various tones of voice, implying they want you sometimes to treat their commands and questions as if they were students and others as if they were evaluators. For example, they will pretend to act like a bunch of rambunctious ten year olds. You don’t know if they want you to prove how unrattled you can be, or whether you are supposed to play strict teacher and take them to task, or whether they actually are as boorish as they appear to be acting and you show your good breeding by refusing to respond in kind, pretending to ignore the rudeness. It turns out the second response is what is desired.
They will ask you a million questions. You don’t know if the idea is to answer them all to prove you know your stuff, or to put them off because the questions are not immediately relevant to the current slide. It turns out they want you to put them off.
They will ask you what at first appear to be very stupid questions, using a sort of idiot’s voice. Treat the question literally, as if Einstein had asked it, because the guys in the audience evaluating you are the best language lawyers around.
Though they bill themselves as wild and crazy guys, stick to the script. Don’t tell stories; don’t use material not in the course; don’t give opinions about anything; don’t use fanciful metaphors; answer questions as tersely as possible. Use a Joe Friday approach to get through the material at a steady clip, focusing on teaching rather than entertaining. They want to make sure you won’t do anything that would potentially embarrass the company.
The general rule is, when they do some outrageous thing to you, (hint some of it will happen even before your test teach officially starts), don’t get mad or say to yourself "what kind of a silly joke is this?" Just think to yourself, if this crazy thing actually happened in the real world when I was teaching, no matter how improbable, what would be the optimal way to handle it? Then play act the solution.
I suppose you could guess from this that I passed my oral exam but flubbed the test teach completely. I tried to prove to them how I could keep an audience from falling asleep and I failed to play act as if the audience were newbie students while answering questions knowing they were actually language lawyers who did not want long-winded, overly-simplified explanations. Big mistake!
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