Marcus fainted to the side and smacked his head on the taps;BestWorst Lesson;Features Best
My best lesson happened by chance on a wet, cold and windy afternoon. I had completely run out of time to plan it, so it wasn't a well-constructed lesson by any means.
There had been a strong emphasis on learning styles at my school, so I decided to include more visual and kinaesthetic elements to my lesson. The lesson was based on the nervous system.
As a starter, pupils had to guess what the picture of a nerve cell was on the board. Despite their determination that it was a strange form of sperm (the strangest I had ever seen), we had some surprisingly good banter about why it was a nerve cell.
We then dipped into the skin as a sense organ and several pupils came up to feel inside the magic box on the front desk. They had to decide what they were feeling, while describing it to their classmates.
Any dull lesson is thoroughly improved for pupils if suggestions such as "snot", "dead mouse" and "poo" are thrown out.
After looking at the structure of the skin, we built this into a whole reflex arc and how we respond automatically to stimuli.
I always ask pupils to model this using plasticine, which they never fail to enjoy, especially when they can mark each other's for scientific accuracy.
This was the first time I had tried peer-marking models properly, using a mark scheme on the board, and the arguments as to why some models weren't exactly as they should be were fascinating. It also proved to be great as an assessment tool for what learning had taken place, if any.
Heart dissection affords pupils the rare opportunity to see biology first hand. It was also rare for groups of all abilities to sit in utter silence for 10 minutes.
I issued serious instructions, laced with threats to ward off those who planned to pocket pieces of flesh, flick valves across the room and wipe blood on any clean surface. But many took dissection very seriously, knowing that this was the closest they would ever come to being a heart surgeon.
Unperturbed, the dissections started. They were in awe of my demonstration - I truly was amazing. But in teaching, we cannot have unconditional highs like this.
Marcus, a quiet lad, one I perhaps should have watched for that reason, continued his work with two classmates.
I was unable to extract any pre-faint information from his two friends after the event. He simply dropped. But his studious seating position was his downfall.
Marcus fainted to the side and smacked his head hard on the metal taps. I turned around just in time to see him slowly folding to the side.
A simple fall was now impossible because he had his feet firmly tucked into the strut of the stool. Slowly the stool came down with him and smashed to the floor. We lifted his feet up, got help, reassured him as he came round and everyone seemed pleased with the rescue effort.
But Marcus wasn't just a fainter, he was a thrower too. With no useful vessel to hand, he threw up in my recycle bin
Peneli-Jane Le Tocq is a teacher in Warwickshire
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