My best worst lesson

23rd January 2009 at 00:00

BEST: I loved every minute of working at Lyon Park School in Wembley. This was where I learnt the essence of teaching when I taught a reception class for a year. It was when I decided I could use some of this "good" practice in a class in the year above, which was predominately boys, that the children really surprised me with their questioning skills.

I knew an Ofsted inspector was due in my room any minute and I already felt the children were not going to follow the geography lesson I'd intended.

The aim was for them to make comparisons between one location and another using secondary resources. Instead, working in groups, they fired a quick succession of questions at me for the entire 20 minutes that the inspector was in the classroom. How do bananas grow? Where do you think the car is going in this picture? I wonder what flag that is on the ship?

Some quarrelled over the pictures and the fact that they were small, and not all of the group could see - not something I wanted them to highlight.

Later, when I got my feedback, the inspector said it was a good lesson because the pupils seemed generally interested, focused and were developing geographical questioning skills as well as co-operating and listening to one another. He could also see how the future lessons would develop from my medium-term plans. So despite my worries, the little darlings didn't let me down.

WORST: My worst experience still haunts me. I was going for about my fifth interview in as many months, for a deputy head's job. I visited the school beforehand and asked all the relevant questions including: "Do you have any children known for misbehaving in the school?" The head's words were: "No, none, not at our school."

When I received my interview date there was a list of tasks to do that day and one was teach. I had taught all year groups in three primary key stages, except nursery. On the day there were two other candidates and we each had to teach maths. I had come prepared with games, differentiated activities, work sheets, pen boards and so on, but nothing could have prepared me for what followed.

Within 10 minutes of introducing myself and the lesson's objective, they started throwing chairs, kicking the bin and ripping paper out of books.

After 30 minutes of being watched by two governors and trying every trick I knew to get them to behave, I knew I would not get the job. I was later told that the class was known for that type of behaviour and had a specialist behaviour teacher. In fact, even the headteacher never taught that class without at least one, if not two, teaching assistants. Not surprisingly, it wasn't somewhere I wanted to work.

Tina Humber is deputy head at Reffley Community School in Norfolk.

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