Bouquet of the week

27th March 1998 at 00:00
No one forgets a good teacher - especially if they're training to be one. This week Jules Nicholas, a PGCE student from Leicester University, has written a rave review of the head of geography at Casterton Community College in Rutland who supervised her practice this term.

Mike Davis is "an enthusiastic and inspirational tutor", writes Jules, who nominated him for Bouquet of the Week. "Not only does he inspire me, but he inspires other teachers and, most importantly, his pupils. He is always striving for new methods to improve learning."

Mike Davis was "dead chuffed" with the flowers, and was modest but refreshingly honest about what he does. "This is a rural school, and I'm probably not going any further. But these students are definitely going places, and I see them as a great opportunity to bring in fresh ideas and to try things out."

He sees teaching as a craft, and says that if he can help PGCE students to get the basics right - how to organise a lesson, how to write on the blackboard, that sort of thing - "then the rest falls into place". He says he's learned a lot from watching other people teach in his 17-year career. "I always feel that I don't want people to make the same mistakes as me and that they can go on to do even better."

Mike's teacher-training skills are recognised by Leicester University, which sends him 10 per cent of its geography cohort every year. In effect this means there's always one geography student at Casterton. This term, during the school's Ofsted inspection, Mike Davis taught a lesson with Jules Nicholas and they were rewarded with an "excellent" rating.

(It says a lot about the student herself, an ex-air traffic controller who this week was interviewing for her first teaching job. "She was incredibly quick at taking up suggestions, and she'll be a head of department in no time," says Mike.) Headteacher Richard Bird is full of admiration. "Mike has a brilliant grasp of pedagogic theory and the practicalities of the classroom. He really believes that teaching and learning can be improved, and the evidence is there in his department."

Mike Davis is keen to exploit new opportunities through the Internet. But his main source of information is the Geographical Association, of which he is a longstanding member and fan. "Most of my ideas come from the GA." Follow his advice, then, and turn to our "Subject of the week" on pages 20-29. You'll find innovative teaching methods, fool-proof resources, and advice on grasping concepts.

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