Bestworst lesson

2nd March 2007 at 00:00
Best My best lesson was one I learnt, and fortunately it occurred early in my career. I had only been teaching for seven months when I took my Year 3 children on a class outing to Dudley Zoo.

There was a little girl called Susan in this class, who was always complaining of minor aches and illnesses. She cried incessantly and spent every lunchtime wrapped in a blanket in the medical room.

At the end of our day at the zoo, I allowed the children 15 minutes' play in the adventure playground. It wasn't more than a minute into this before Susan was brought to me with tears flowing down her face.

"I've hurt my leg," she wailed. "Well, go and run it off," I replied, confident that Susan would recover within a few seconds.

On the way back to the coach, Susan was still complaining of a poorly leg, so I challenged her to a race. She hobbled her way to victory as I pretended to fall over on the line.

The next day, Susan was missing from school and her mother arrived at lunchtime to pick up her PE kit.

"Is Susan not very well?" I asked. Her mother smiled. "Not really," she answered, "She's broken her leg."

Fortunately, the mother accepted the accident with good humour. It taught me an important lesson nevertheless - always err on the side of caution

Worst A little over 12 months ago, I was in the middle of my fifth Ofsted inspection and had become a little complacent about them.

"Bring them on!" I would declare when the brown envelope arrived. I wasn't at all bothered when a gangly inspector with a Singing Detective complexion entered my room. It was literacy. A colleague had given me a lesson to use.

"It's a winner, Steve," she said. Anything for an easy life, I had gratefully taken the gift.

The basis of the lesson was a chapter from Roald Dahl's The Witches. I strutted around the room like Gielgud on speed, saying: "Vot are you doing, you smelly little creature? I vill change you into a little mouse!"

I was in my element and the kids were completely convulsed.

Even the inspector seemed mildly amused. Eventually the chapter ended. I reluctantly put the book down and reached for the worksheet that accompanied the lesson. I looked casually at it and found I had read the wrong chapter.

Sweaty palms and a parched throat followed. I looked at the inspector, who was writing and seemed oblivious of my mistake. From that moment on, I taught by the seat of my pants, trying to ad lib my way out of the mire.

When the bell sounded at last, I was a physical and nervous wreck.

The children left and I went towards the inspector fearing the worst. He flipped his clipboard in military fashion. "That was good," he declared.

I smiled, walked into the stock cupboard and wept Steve Devrell teaches in Solihull

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