Bestworst lesson

7th September 2007 at 01:00
Best My best lesson was with a very difficult class all manner of problems including social, learning and behavioural difficulties.

I was well organised: the classroom had been arranged into one big table for all to sit around; the projector and PowerPoint set up, and a variety of images from important moments in history the moon landings, Kennedy's assassination, Princess Diana in her wedding carriage (a suitable variety for the romantic, bloodthirsty, conspiracy theorists) were flashing slowly in a loop.

All pupils found at least one image they liked, and I allowed them to make notes of any words, phrases, ideas or stories that they could associate with their chosen image, but not to talk yet. As I looked around, they were all smiling, even the girl who made it her life's work to scowl constantly at me, was busy scribbling. They were silent, another unusual occurrence.

When I asked them to discuss their ideas, they were more enthusiastic than I could have imagined. They talked of honeymoons (potentially theirs, as well as Princess Diana's), wedding dress designs, Government cover-ups, the angle of the bullet that killed Kennedy, alien existence, Jackie Kennedy's reactions, the stories the astronauts could tell...

Then one girl asked (somewhat loudly) "Miss, can I write a story about this? Like I was Jackie?" The rest nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I want to be the astronaut!" someone else piped up. I smiled. Mission accomplished.

Worst As a new teacher, a class of pupils with a range of behavioural, social and learning difficulties were "given" to me for a few weeks until a new member of staff arrived.

"Don't worry," said the depute head who'd taught them until then, smiling, "There are 15 on the list, but only four or five will come."

Colleagues helpfully gave me any number of teaching ideas and extension worksheets and helpful advice. My principal tutor also timetabled support for each period.

It worked, until one day the support person forgot. And 14 arrived.

I bravely ploughed on with the lesson, glancing at the door to see if anyone was coming to my rescue. They weren't.

The class became an exercise in riot control: verbal abuse was hurled across the room, rubbers and at least one book were thrown, one table tipped up, the rest is a blur.

An angry-looking girl plastered in make-up chatting to her mate, whom she hadn't seen for a while (since she hadn't been at school), looked me up and down, and, lip curled, she snarled in her best west of Scotland accent: "Whit eh yoo lukin' et?" Er, nothing I thought, and wondered whose classroom I was in.

Then, a boy whom I hadn't yet met arrived and when I explained the task, he looked at me and laughed, saying: "Miss, whit you talkin' about? Ah didnae come tae English tae work."

I laughed, but only because when the bell went, I cried

Lauren Dixon is a teacher in East Ayrshire

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