Worst Lesson Ever Taught

A typical interview question is, “Can you tell me about a really good lesson you have taught, and say what made it so good?” I’m used to that one and I always have one in mind before I go to an interview.

The last time I went for an interview though, they really threw me. “Can you tell us about a really bad lesson you have taught, and what you learnt from it?” I wasn’t expecting that. Quite apart from the fact that nobody ever wants to share their failures, it’s a hard question to answer. Like most teachers I finish every lesson thinking, “I wish I could teach that all over again – I could do it so much better next time.” How do you choose one from so many like that? I decided to talk about the first lesson I ever taught as a trainee teacher as I don’t think lessons get any worse than that particular one.

I knew what my lesson objective was, and I had thought really carefully about what independent activities I wanted the class to do to practise the learning objective. What I hadn’t considered enough, was how I was going to break down the learning objective to allow them to achieve it. The result was a shambles. I threw far too much information at them in one go, and then set them off on their first task.

Of course, they didn’t understand and the noise level rose as they asked each other what to do. I got frustrated because nobody was working. They were frustrated because I was telling them to be quiet and just get on with it, but they couldn’t. By the end of the hour every child in that class hated me, and they were my least favourite class for the rest of my placement.

But I did take away a very important lesson of my own from that experience, and the first bit of advice I would give any trainee teacher going into the classroom for the first time is this:
The lesson objective is what the class should achieve by the end of the lesson. They are not going to be able to do it after the first ten minutes of the lesson – if they can then your expectations are not high enough. You need to plan a series of small steps for them to take throughout the lesson so that by the end they can look at the lesson objective and say, “Yes – I can do that.”

I’ve never made that mistake again, and now whenever I teach I think about my particular children and plan how to break the objective down for those particular children.

Day of Ashura

The Day of Ashura, which means day of remembrance, is on the 10th day of Muharram, and it commemorates many different events.

It is believed to be the day that Noah left the ark after the floods receded, and this is one of the events thought about on this day.

For Shi’ite Muslims, it is also a day of mourning that I think about Iman Hussain (Hussain ibn Ali) the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who was killed in battle in 680CE.

Sunni Muslims think about God saving Moses from the Egyptians, also believed to have happened on this day, and for them it is a day of fasting.

Related posts: Laylat al-Qadr   Islamic New Year

History podcasts

Well, we have a bonus post today. I usually post every 10 days, but I thought I’d squeeze a last one in before the end of the summer holidays.

I’m not a GCSE teacher so I can’t vouch for the quality of these podcasts, but you may find them useful.

The GCSE History Revision Podcast

The British History Podcast – this one isn’t a GCSE revision one, but it’s informative and entertaining for anyone with an interest in history. Warning: it contains explicit language, not all of which is bleeped out.

15 Minute History – this one isn’t GCSE specific either, but I enjoy listening to it. It sometimes has more of an American slant but they cover some interesting topics.