View from a Global Teacher Prize nominee: 'How to be a star FE teacher'

Richard Spencer, head of science at Middlesbrough College, was one of only 10 people shortlisted for the inaugural Global Teacher Prize earlier this year, narrowly missing out on the winner's $1 million reward. Here are his top five tips on how to excel in a college classroom
19th November 2015, 6:05pm

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View from a Global Teacher Prize nominee: 'How to be a star FE teacher'

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  1. You have to build up a rapport with the class. Some of the things I do are quite out there, so the students need to feel comfortable with me and with each other. I try to learn the names of everyone in the class in five minutes. Students need to believe that you are interested in them as an individual and as a learner.
  2. You need to be enthusiastic. If you are enthusiastic about what you are teaching, it will filter through to the class, and they won't question it if you do something that is a bit out of the ordinary. My favourite teaching method is the biology dance. These dances are simple - it's not like Strictly Come Dancing. They help teach quite complicated science. An example would be the DNA Boogie. Songs and poems are also a good way to teach complicated terminology.
  3. Don't be afraid to take risks. I once did a song with my class and it had all these actions in it. We got to the end of it, and the class said: "That was awful." So we never did it again. But that one performance of the song stayed with me.
  4. Vary it. If you have a two-hour lesson, vary the pace. In a lesson about DNA, the DNA Song might make up about 10 minutes of the lesson, the rest could be model-making, up-front teaching and other things. It has to be integrated.
  5. Get involved in external projects, and try and get your students involved, too. That really enriches their experience. I am currently doing a project with Science on Stage on science and football, and my students are doing work on grass recovery after a match.

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