Student teacher: Learning to juggle and using a box of tricks

A third of the way through her PGCE and our blogger is still as enthusiastic as ever, despite facing the challenges of having to teach subjects that she doesn’t feel comfortable with. “Even though I see the importance of science as a whole, I struggle enormously with teaching chemistry at KS4.”

Teaching physics... nothing to fear?I am stuck. I should be planning a lesson for a year 10 physics class that I am teaching tomorrow. I have loads of ideas, but not a coherent plan as of yet. My idea was to combine their previous lesson on earthquakes to a lesson on ‘how science works’ and tie it to the L’Aquila quake story and Galileo’s trial. So far, lots of ideas, but actually not an awful number of concrete activities I can do with the students. Hmmm, maybe taking a step back will make it all fall into place.

So far I can’t complain too much, not at all actually. I have been in school for 4 weeks now and I’m absolutely loving it. Some bits more than others, which is not surprising.  Even after a hard day I still want to come back the following day – except if that is a weekend day. Weekends are bliss! Time to clean the house, do the shopping, reflect upon the last week and plan a load of lessons for next week. Wasn’t there also an assignment I had to write?

As much I love it, I do miss my pals from University. Not only do I have to act all grown up and responsible now, I also miss the peer support. Luckily there are such things as social networking sites, but a comment thread can never replace sharing stories over a glass of wine in the pub after a hard day’s work.

In the meantime, I am scribbling away on my lesson plan… it is slowly coming together!

Planning lessons still takes ages, there are so many things I have to think about (let alone the actual content) that it feels like I am juggling with 7 flaming torches! However, I am slowly filling my box with tricks, activities and ideas; and with each addition, my confidence level rises.

Even though I see the importance of science as a whole, I struggle enormously with teaching chemistry at KS4. In physics and maths, I am much more comfortable with the content, and I know peripheral topics which means I can focus on the mechanics of teaching and standing in front of the class. In chemistry I am very aware of my limitations, which means I spend more time studying the subject beforehand. During the lesson, I worry about questions the kids could ask hence I have less energy/time and focus for the other 6 flaming torches I am desperately trying to keep up.

I urgently need to learn that all that matters at this point in time is improvement, not perfection!

And on that note – I should stop trying to make my lesson for tomorrow perfect and take the evening off… or not…

PS I have now given that lesson – the students seemed to really like the link to real life. They were engaged and the group was truly divided on whether or not the scientists were to be held responsible. Some very good debating was going on, with excellent listening and outstanding arguments. I am very proud of my students!

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