Bestworst lesson

6th July 2007 at 01:00
Best

My best lesson was actually the second part of two. In the first lesson, we'd talked about the events surrounding the death of Thomas a Becket. The homework I'd planned to set was for the children to write a news article for a medieval newspaper about the story. As I explained the task, one of my Year 7 pupils asked: "Can we do it as TV news instead?" and perhaps involuntarily I heard myself respond: "That might work."

Within minutes, there was a hubbub in the room as pupils tried to claim their roles. And before they left the room, somehow I'd agreed to let them put together a TV report.

On the day of the second lesson, I half hoped their plans had been forgotten. As I opened my classroom door, I was faced with smiling faces among a plethora of microphones, clipboards, robes and swords.

In the event, relatively little effort was required on my part. A camera person was elected (after some struggle), roles allocated and the main anchors took their seats. I acted less as director, and more as researcher, clarifying points as necessary and briefly reminding the marauding knights that American accents were not common in medieval Canterbury.

In all, they managed to produce an eight-minute news article, with reporters, analysis, studio guests and even a blow-by-blow reconstruction. I couldn't have asked for more. And, of course, you can imagine which aspect of medieval history sticks most clearly in their minds.

Worst

I was teaching maths to a Year 7 top set. I had it all worked out and with interactive whiteboard wizardry up my sleeve, I was about to wow them with my electronic transformations and rotations. It was one of those lessons which just looked great on paper.

I should have known first thing that morning when I was told I would be teaching in another classroom because of testing. Frantically, I ran to check the new room had an interactive whiteboard and reassured myself that all would be OK.

When period three came, I knew I'd have to collect my class from their timetabled room and take them to the new one. Except they weren't there. Panicking, I presumed they already knew of the change and so raced to the new room... also empty.

Only when I returned to the original classroom did I find 30 Year 7s arriving from PE and sounding like they were on their way to a match. I made my apologies to the teacher leading the tests and took my group to the new room.

Only now did it become clear that, although I had an interactive whiteboard, there was no PC attached. Just as trained, I instantly changed my lesson plan we'd go straight to the textbooks. Which I'd left in the original classroom. It was only when I had 30 pupils in seats and a full set of textbooks that the fire alarm went. I've never been more grateful for a drill

Michael Tidd teaches in West Sussex

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