I had graphs, clear definitions and hand-drawn overhead transparencies. So nothing could go wrong

12th October 2007 at 01:00

Best My best lesson was a "health" (coy language for sex education) class taught to Year 10 boys in New Zealand. The headmaster had arranged to do a lesson observation and, despite my warning that it might not be the best topic to be observed on, insisted that it was a convenient time for him and that he was interested to see how testosterone-ravaged boys responded to a small, foreign female discussing such delicate issues with them.

As always, the subject matter was guaranteed to hold the attention of even the least enthusiastic male teenage learner and, within five minutes, I had strayed from my beautifully crafted lesson plan to answer a deluge of questions. The boys had obviously not felt able to ask anyone this sort of thing before and the interrogation continued for the full 50 minutes.

The head had started out writing copious notes but stopped fairly soon as he became absorbed in the questions and answers. On the way out, he thanked me in front of the class and commented that he had "learnt a lot". This raised a roar from the boys, who speculated as to which bits "Sir didn't know before he heard you talk to us".

Worst My worst lesson was the first Year 12 biology class I took on my PGCE teaching practice. The class teacher sat at the back, ready to carry out the written lesson observation. I had spent days preparing a series of lessons on osmosis and water potential. I had the answers and workings for every calculation possible. I had graphs, clear definitions and hand-drawn overhead transparencies. So nothing could go wrong. The only trouble was that, because I was so nervous, I delivered the whole series of five lessons in one go in a grand total of 45 minutes.

The stunned sixth-formers, who had evidently been threatened into submission by their teacher, behaved beautifully, manfully took as many notes as was possible at that speed and nodded and smiled encouragingly.

At the end, as I attempted to leave the lab with a vestige of dignity, the class teacher said kindly that I had made a good start, but that perhaps I should start all over again the next day at a slower spe **

Julie Harris teaches in Lesmurdie, Western Australia

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