Bestworst lesson

15th June 2007 at 01:00

The Ofsted inspectors were in when I was seven months' pregnant, rather large and wheezing a bit. I always do intensive speaking practice with Year 11 on a Monday and I went ahead as normal. It was before our interactive whiteboards arrived, so I still used my overhead projector. The lesson was on food and drink - my topic for that week. I had brought with me a selection from my store cupboard and the fruit bowl at home.

I often use toys, baby clothes and family photos in my modern languages lessons.

The pupils enjoyed revisiting the various words and phrases, and we covered some fun new ones, such as knoblauch, the German word for garlic, which the pupils found amusing.

We also had a brief discussion about some vegetables they did not know. We played a memory game in which I put all the food back in the shopping bag and they had to name all the items they had seen - a little like TV's Generation Game. I had brought some German noodles, another favourite of mine, and I described my favourite recipe in the target language.

By the end of the lesson, they had mastered all the foodie role plays and were using new food words not usually present at GCSE level. The inspector told me she found it exciting to see real food in a lesson.

When the pupils were asked why they complied with all my requests, one said: "Because we wanted to please Miss". This was lovely praise from a child and I have always remembered it.


I had invited two heads of languages in to observe my department - all part of sharing good practice. I was expecting an array of primary children who were visiting for the day and having various taster lessons.

Mine was to be German.

"Don't worry," I said. "I do taster lessons every year. Year 5s are pussy cats. This lesson always goes down a storm with them."

My visitors watched as I embarked on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood in English, substituting the key words with German ones and using visuals on the whiteboard. It was going well, until I heard giggling.

One spiky-haired boy had his hand up. I went over. "Do you like make-up?"

he asked. "Pardon?" I said in disbelief. "I just wondered because you wear a lot of it." This hit a raw nerve and I was now uneasy. I glared at him and ignored his question.

I put the Year 5s in groups to re-enact the story themselves. This quickly became mayhem and when I asked why they were brawling on the floor, they said it was the woodcutter killing the wolf. Silly me!

My visitors at this point were making copious notes. I felt queasy.

I re-established order, we had a brief written task and then I shouted through the plenary as my blood pressure was up and I was still glaring at the spiky-haired boy. The bell went and I attempted to smile at my visitors Sara Sullivan teaches in Essex

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now