Was the first thought that sprang to mind when I was approached to teach a school lesson as part of "Teach First Week". For those that don't know, Teach First is a charity whose mission is to address educational disadvantage by transforming exceptional graduates into effective, inspirational teachers.

Other Teach First Week volunteers included Noddy Holder, Jon Snow and Justin King, CEO of Sainsbury's – an impressive line up that only added to the pressure.

Thursday 10th March came and I drove over to Haberdashers' Aske's Knights Academy (Kent) trying to remember the lesson plan that I'd prepared. "What fate lay in wait?" I wondered.

I'd elected to teach a Business Studies lesson focusing on Marketing, but I'd never envisaged what the reality of teaching a group of 27 Year 9 boys would be like. I kept reminding myself that I had over 20 years of solid business experience – hopefully this at least part qualified me for the task in hand.  However, the overriding thought was "I have never taught in my life – what am I doing?"

The classroom door opened and I took a deep breath…

My topic was about launching a new consumer technology product (sunglasses with built in Bluetooth and earpieces for music / phone) in the UK and how a company should go about marketing that product.  Here are my reflections of how I found this experience:

What I loved about it:

  • Aspirations – the boys were keen to know about my career and how they could be successful
  • The way the boys readily adapted to being taught by me and their active engagement in the group work
  • The great questions they asked me. My personal favourite was "are you a millionaire mister?"
  • The gentle smiles from the sympathetic teacher (Ian McLean) at the back of the room
  • The help and advice I got from Tracey Pitts (one of our talented Educational Consultants) in the couple of hours I had to get myself ready

What I found most challenging:

  • Multi-tasking – it's hard to look at the students, write on a white board, think about the lesson, keep control etc all at the same time
  • The amount of energy required / consumed – I only delivered a one hour lesson – I can only imagine the phenomenal energy reserves needed to get through the day
  • The peripheral vision needed to spot what was going on all across the classroom

In summary, it was a fantastic experience. I am in awe of what the UK's wonderful teachers deliver for their learners every day in their classrooms and I'm delighted that Teach First is there to help develop inspirational educators.

My thanks to the year 9 students and their teacher, Ian McLean, for trusting me to teach their lesson.
- Guest blog by Paul Fletcher, MD, RM Education.

Categories: In the classroom, Senior leaders

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