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icebreaker lesson

Seek and ye shall find in a scientific introduction

Seek and ye shall find in a scientific introduction

The first few lessons are all about setting out your stall: teaching students what to expect from you and what you expect from them.

Learn students' names and always have a seating plan arranged. Get as much background information as you can. If you know you have a tricky group, talk to their head of year or previous teacher to get some feedback on where to sit them. Forewarned is forearmed, but allow every pupil in your room a clean slate. Each year is a fresh start for them as well as you.

When they arrive for their first lesson, behaviour will probably be the best it's going to be all year, so reward that. Give them something exciting to grab their attention and show them that your lesson is one that's worth engaging in.

I use a lab equipment game to reinforce expectations and help me to learn which pupils are good listeners, or have good memories, and which to watch for a short attention span.

Begin the game by stating: "I went to the prep room, and I asked for. a Bunsen burner." The students continue by repeating this and following it with items of their own. It shows me how much equipment they are familiar with and if they know the names. If they're struggling, I go to my cupboards and find pieces to hold up as props. This also helps pupils to become familiar with where items are stored in the room.

Next, try a science scavenger hunt. Divide the class into groups and give each group a list of items to find in the room. They are given five minutes to work out what the items are and seven minutes to find them. I also award bonus points for being able to describe what the item is used for and being able to draw an accurate lab diagram of it.

This game can be differentiated up to A-level with students identifying complex pieces of glassware, or made simple with items such as calculators and rulers. Students are finding out where things are kept in the room and how to work as a team.

Above all else, enjoy your first lesson. Remember that you're in the privileged position of working with curious, funny and interesting people still growing into their future selves. You get to help shape them - and have fun doing it.

Sarah Glennie is head of chemistry at a secondary school in London

To download resources for this lesson, visit bit.lyIcebreaker14August

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