What am I doing???

So essentially I’m going to give a regular account of life teaching science (yes all three – I know some of you feel my pain) in a British 11-16 high school academy.

Occasionally this may border on ranting but ideally I’m planning to share some good practice along the way and hopefully make this an interactive platform that we can all contribute to ……………… Code: *cry in a dark corner of the interweb together*science



It’s quiet…….. Too quiet

So it may be a little quiet over the next week or so.

Fear not, I will just be making the most of Easter and the awesome British weather……….

I’ll be back when the the fear of exam season reality kicks in 😉 *whistles in blissful ignorance*

Last day of term…..Surprise!!!!!!!!

So there I was, teed up for the day with my ethically sourced and fully licenced movie titles *cough* ready to be played to an exhausted non-uniformed cohort of children with restless everything syndrome. I’ve never done it before, but my colleagues were doing it so I caved. You’re never too old to experience peer pressure apparently.

Period 3 arrives, in walks an SLT member from a partner school doing a development secondment. 

“I’m here for your observation – you were expecting me weren’t you?”








Sure – no problem.
Quickest lesson plan in history ensued.

It went brilliantly. Can’t beat an off the cuff revision lesson.

Was he fooled…….Absolutely not.

Lesson learned?…… Yep.

1) Read your emails properly

2) First and last time I attempt the lazy option. 

Have a good holiday people!

The joy of marking mocks…..

Yay, exam season is just around the corner so it must be time to mark those highly indicative mock exams *groans*. 

I appear to have been hit with the good luck stick and have a mere 120 scripts to mark. Again – yay.

I’d like to say I have a quick win technique here. I’d like to.

Unfortunately my coping mechanism consists of little and often with the TV/YouTube on in the background. One question at break, two guestion at lunch and 3 questions after school. At this rate I get through almost a set of papers per day – on a good day, bearing in mind they’re split into two piles.

You’d never recommend it to your pupils would you (?) – but then in all fairness for some of them doing any work in their own time at all would be an improvement!

My aim is to get them done in the next two days before the Easter break. We’ll see………

Do you have any quick wins or tips when your paper marking spikes?

Revision hell….

So you’re stuck with year 11 for at least another 3 months, because unlike the old days we don’t trust them to revise on their own and there’s too much at stake for us to leave it to chance.

This leaves the very real problem of how to effectively revise for these individuals between now and exam time!

I’ve always been a fan of actually doing papers – relentlessly an unapologetically. If you look at enough papers and enough mark schemes you can’t fail. Same shit, different year.

You can’t do that for 3 months. You just can’t. So you effectively teach the course again because a large proportion of the little darlings have forgotten a lot (A LOT) of it! 

Revision mats? Good for basic recall. I like them, and for 20% of your total marks (the tick box and one markers) they’re great.

6 mark questions: I get my students to answer them in table form, sure the QWC goes to shit – but they’re targeting specific marks now – showing a deeper understanding of how to approach a scientific question, and let’s be honest who gives a toss about QWC anyway?

Biggest problem? Maths. If these kids can’t use an equation and rearrange it then they’re probably not going to. You could spend 3 months trying to get them up to speed but it’s unlikely to be fruitful so pick some easy wins.

Graphs and tables. I give my students endless tables and graphs. If they can spot a pattern they can get a mark, they don’t even have to understand it to get a good enough proportion of marks to pass!

What do you do, what are your quick wins? How do you keep it interesting and stay sane????

What would I tell NQT me?

2016-09-20-274_The_New_Guy_webSo I’m in a fairly good place right now. I’m in a nice school (compared to the early days at least!!) I don’t dread going into work – and coming up to the Easter holidays I’m pretty much up to date with things. Just take a moment to appreciate that – because it never (EVER!) happens.

Compared to a couple of years ago when I was thinking of leaving the profession I am very happy – so I thought: “What would I tell NQT me?”

  1. Mark 10 books a day – it’ll take 30 mins max and is SO worth it!
  2. Don’t sweat meetings – the big boys and girls don’t care about your opinion anyway, so don’t put that pressure on yourself to contribute.
  3. Your folder needs to look fat – but the chances of anyone reading it are tiny. Fill it with highlighted articles, examples of marked work, CPD and lesson observations. It will be fine.
  4. Perception is everything – yes your colleagues probably are dicks, but smile anyway, make chit chat, boost their ego when they impart wisdom. It’s not forever.
  5. The kid that made you want to go home and apply to McDonald’s yesterday after your slagging match has already moved on – do the same.
  6. Shitty lessons are better than good ones (obviously they can’t all be crap) – you learn more from it – they will get better as a result. Good lessons early on rarely work twice.
  7. Don’t kill yourself doing great lessons – the ones that count are the ones that are watched.
  8. Give yourself some easy wins: IT room lessons, library lessons, text book lessons. Never do them back to back with the same group but give yourself an easy lesson to regroup.
  9. When you’re under the kosh – it’s OK to get the kids to mark their own tests to save you 2 hours marking, but for Christ sake don’t try it with year 7 or your bottom sets.
  10. Don’t be afraid to go off topic sometimes – kids love this and it acts as both a rapport builder and way of making things interesting to them.
  11. Watch your colleagues, steal their lessons and resources – unless they are complete arseholes they will want to give them to you – they’ve been where you are and it gives them a little boost!
  12. The technicians can almost always plan your practicals better than you can – they know what they have, what works and what is safe – they like to be treated like the experts they are in their field (the experienced ones anyway) so let them impart their wisdom and thank them for it!

Any thoughts people?