Yesterday, I reaffirmed my respect for teachers and primary teachers in particular. It's fully fifteen years since I last regularly taught primary children and yesterday I spent much of the day at Shirestone Academy in Birmingham. I had been invited by Principal Clare Lucas to kick off National Science week by talking about the Bloodhound Project in assembly and then running a balloon car lesson up to lunch time for year two. While I was there I was asked to talk to year six for fifteen minutes in the afternoon about why science isn't boring and then I headed home.
And I was exhausted! After only two and a bit hours of contact teaching time.
I spent most of Sunday afternoon stress testing the balloon car lesson with my daughter and fretting over whether year two would be able to cope with what is effectively a key stage two lesson. Equally I worried about being found out for my fraudulent championing of science when I am actually a history graduate. As it turned out I had no reason to worry whatsoever. The children, all of them, were wonderful.
When we asked them what they could do to improve their cars they came up with huge range of ideas: from adding more balloons, adding bigger balloons, improving the materials of the wheels from rather flimsy card, adding more Plasticine to the wheel/axle joint (but not so much that it made the car too heavy), making the car a better shape, not stepping on the car...
One of them even made the connection to Newton's second law, which I had introduced in the assembly earlier with the help of a skateboard.
My point is that any fool can get up and talk to children. But to ensure that children of multiple abilities and varying interests are engaged and actually learning is hard work. So hats off to those who do it every day!