My best worst lesson

2nd May 2008 at 01:00
Best: We were being inspected at the small, rural boarding school in the South of England where I was head of geography and boarding
Best: We were being inspected at the small, rural boarding school in the South of England where I was head of geography and boarding. Everyone else had prepared a week's immaculate lesson plans, ready for an inspector to appear at any time. I, meanwhile, had been dealing with a bullied pupil, a Year 11 drinking incident and complaints that the girls' showers ran cold after 7am. So I had no lesson plans at all.

The head intimated that inspectors would only make it to lessons after period one on Tuesday. I was free after that period, and intended to use the rest of the morning for some lesson planning.

Unfortunately, when I rushed (late) into the first lesson on Tuesday, an inspector was already waiting. I grabbed some maps from the filing cabinet, and we had an impromptu lesson on land use.

Unbelievably, the lesson went well. But I knew that, at the end, the inspector would ask for my lesson plan, blowing my cover completely. I could not believe my luck when, five minutes before the end of the lesson, the inspector signalled that he had to leave, and swiftly disappeared.

It was hard not to look smug when I sidled up to him later in the day. "I didn't get a chance to give you my lesson plan," I said, handing over the one I had retrospectively prepared. "Oh, it was obvious you had planned it really carefully," he said.

Obviously, there is a God, and he feels sorry for teachers.

Worst: There's nothing like a good video to bring a geography lesson alive. Of course, it's even better if you've shot it yourself, so you can add in all your personal recollections. With this in mind, I was keen to capture as many sights as possible during the summer my wife and I spent travelling around Brazil.

My brother-in-law lent me his video camera (it was in the days when you recorded on to mini-tapes) and, upon our return, he offered to transfer my films on to a cassette. I accepted, knowing I would never get round to it. He produced the videos, and I put them in a cupboard until I had time to watch them.

It wasn't long before the tapes came in useful. Year 9 was studying Brazil, and the focus of the next lesson was to be the Iguassu Falls. With the lesson fast approaching, I dug out the cassettes and flicked around until I found the start of our Iguassu film.

Next day in class, I presented my video. The class was attentive - having their teacher on film made it more interesting, apparently.

Because they were all paying attention none of them missed what came next. The Iguassu film ended abruptly and we suddenly flicked on to a shot of me sitting naked on the toilet, while my wife playfully remarked: "Now, isn't that a fine figure of a man." I have learnt my lesson: thorough preparation usually pays off

Kevin Cooper lives in Bootle, Cumbria. He is no longer a teacher

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