Bestworst lesson

11th January 2008 at 00:00
Best: My best lesson was with a class of Year 2 children and came at the end of some work on the Great Fire of London. I wanted to assess what the children had understood and find out if they had retained important information. One afternoon, I entered the classroom in the guise of Samuel Pepys, with hat, cloak, quill pen and parchment. I introduced myself as the diarist and asked the children if they could help me complete my entries because I had mislaid some important pages in the confusion of the fire.

A detailed discussion followed and with careful questioning, I was able to gather all the information I needed to make my assessments. Every child entered into the spirit of the activity - not one addressed me as anything other than Mr Pepys and their involvement and excitement was infectious as they tried to help the unfortunate, confused character.

Once I had "re-written" the missing pages and made sure that I had everything in the right order, Mr Pepys took his leave.

I left my props in the corridor and quietly walked back into the classroom, apologising for being late back from lunch. I was met by a chorus of excited children who had a "secret" to tell me.

"Guess what Mrs Clarke, you'll never believe it. Samuel Pepys has just been in here," shouted one boy. The power of role-play was never more evident than during that particular lesson and I urge every teacher to give it a try if they possibly can.

Worst: My worst lesson was in my first year of teaching during a parents' open day at the school. The literacy hour had just been introduced and parents had been invited to come and watch. I was teaching a class of Year 3 and 4 children and we were grappling with plurals, specifically changing words ending with "y" into "ies". As a new teacher I was nervous of being observed, particularly by parents, and I ploughed through my lesson in a haze of panic.

The children had all worked hard with their whiteboards and had managed to change lady to ladies, baby to babies and so on and I was beginning to relax. One boy suggested the word "donkey" and I duly helped the children change the word to "donkies", giving lots of praise. We quickly followed this by changing "monkey" to "monkies".

At this point, I noticed one of the observers was the headteacher and that he was making very strange signs, slicing his finger across his throat. I didn't realise the mistakes I'd made and carried on.

It was not until the head returned to my room to point out my errors that I had any realisation of what I had done. Fortunately, he found it amusing and not one parent mentioned it at all.

Angela Clarke is headteacher at Ashbrook Infant and Nursery School, Borrowash, Derbyshire.

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