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A Week with our Inspiring Teachers

A Week with our Inspiring Teachers

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study, is one day with a great teacher” Japanese proverb.

This week, I have had the privilege of observing some great teachers in action, and this famous proverb has been at forefront of my mind.

In Geography, I watched a dynamic and engaging lesson led by Mrs Burton. It built cleverly on previous learning as students used data they had gathered out in the field (literally) to create impressive graphs and other infographics about an ecosystem.

The momentum was excellent and Mrs Burton deployed an impressive variety of teaching and learning techniques including board work, Q&A, independent pupil written work, white boards and peer review. While her class studiously worked through their tasks, I found myself hypnotised by the countdown clock she had ominously ticking down on the touch screen TV to help the pupils with their time management!

Talking of ecosystems, in Biology I observed Mrs Holness and her Year 7 class create their own!  The start of the lesson involved establishing a clear understanding of the word “ecosystem” with a nice starter exercise. Pupils then used this knowledge to create their own ecosystem using compost, seeds, a plastic bottle, water and some dextrous planting techniques. The pupils clearly relished the practical work and this was expertly directed by Mrs Holness.  It was wonderful to see young people developing their appreciation for the natural world (alongside learning the hard science) with such enthusiasm and focus.

Then, I went to one of my favourite classrooms, Food Technology.  Mr Barnes always guarantees a warm reception and knows how to get my attention quickly: this time, with some freshly cooked sourdough and a tahini dip. Amazing (thank you Sir).  He then brilliantly led Year 7 through a demonstration of how to make the perfect chocolate brownie.  It was a tour de force that included important health and safety advice, interesting links to nutritional science, a range of challenging questions for pupils and a characteristic dose of good humour.  The class then used this knowledge to create the afore-mentioned brownies.  Terrific attention to detail, first class pupil engagement and some fascinating cross-curricular learning.





Meanwhile in Poland, our Director of Drama has been teaching children at the Noblistow School in Krakow. Sadly, I didn’t observe this session but Mr Sell brings us up to speed below.

“Last weekend, Mr Sell and Mr Sykes visited our friends at the Noblistow School in Krakow, Poland.  We have an excellent relationship with the school who have hosted our pupils on trips to Poland in recent years.   Several times a year the Noblistow kids are given the opportunity to have a sleepover at the school – it is not a boarding school so they all bring sleeping bags and are supervised by staff. They attend workshops in different subjects until late at night. This time they had drama (me), dance, mindfulness and English workshops. The children ranged in age from Y5 to Y8. They don’t study Drama as part of their curriculum so I had to keep things basic with drama games and improvisation, as well as a brief look at Physical theatre. The kids were extremely excited and we had great fun.”

The danger for observers of high quality teaching, is that it can look easier than it is. This graph sums up the teacher expertise paradox:

Outstanding lessons never happen by accident.  They are born of subject expertise, detailed planning, teachers understanding pupil needs and abilities, the use of varied teaching and learning techniques and a compelling passion for the subject at hand.  Our teachers work extremely hard to provide an excellent learning experience for St Edmund’s pupils and however easy skilled professionals make teaching look, I never forget that.