James Ferguson teaches science and publishes on TES as FergieBee. Find out how he creates resources, why he sells on TES and what tips he'd give to aspiring authors.
Tell us about your professional background.
I graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in genetics. Following this, I tried many things, from pharmaceutical research to pig breeding, and I ended up with my own specialist insurance brokerage.
When I turned 30, I sold my business and retrained as a teacher... Call it an epiphany! Although biology comes more naturally, I taught physics from the very start, for no other reason than they needed someone to do it. Because I need to think about physics, I can take a more empathetic approach to teaching it.
As an author of science resources, what are some of the challenges you face?
Resources should enable you to teach and be yourself. They should take the worry out of whether you've covered everything.
I start with the exam board specification and look at a couple of good textbooks and revision guides for inspiration. Previous exam questions are useful to refer to as they tend to develop trends over time.
I get clear in my mind what the students need to learn and how I'll assess it, then I write the objectives. When I have a structure, I let my imagination get creative.
How do you make your resources stand out?
I try to have a fun take on the course material while ensuring that the content is covered. I engage students as much as possible using simple practicals and demonstrations to illustrate the principles and grab their attention.
Until I've taught a lesson a few times and the students have given their (very honest) opinions, I don't think it's ready to share! My resources have been used by myself and others many times over many years.
I learn from the masters; students are the best editors of lesson resources and, in my opinion, this is what can be missing from many commercially-produced resources.
What motivated you to sell your resources on TES?
To produce outstanding lessons requires time and effort. It would be ludicrous for me to spend hours developing a lesson and then keep it to myself to teach once a year.
It makes sense to share and let your students benefit too.
What advice would you give any teachers out there who are considering selling their resources?
Develop an excellent resource, make it better and different from what is already out there. If it only took you an hour to make, then it will only take someone else an hour to make, so it won't stand out as a valuable resource.
But if you've researched it, developed it, tested it, taught it, improved it, nurtured it and it's something you can truly be proud of – and if it receives outstanding feedback in a lesson observation – then not sharing it would be a shame, and we should all be ready to pay you a small fee!
FergieBee's TES Shop
If you're interested in becoming a resources author, but don't know where to start, email our TES Authors Team for a friendly nudge in the right direction.