Ian McNamara

More on lesson planning

Yes, we know it needs to be done


Plan B from outer space

The convergence of two things, three if you count the bottle of Super Leo by my side, led me to churn out this week's column.

First, my New Year's resolution : "Do something to help those less fortunate than yourself." Second, a whiny email asking me to use my talents as a force for good instead of one for evil for a change. To which I reply - "What talents?" Ha! Touché!

Anyway, with the Mother Theresa in my psyche beginning to give me buzz, or maybe that was the Beer Leo, and another nitpicking email on my conscience. It was time to dream up a topic.

To begin, the nominations for those less fortunate than myself are:

1. Al-Quaeda's PR consultant "Of course we're against terrorism but..."

2. The poor lad who chisels the ‘A' into the asprins.

3. The people who have to work with me.

4. The people who used to work with me.

So, this week's LIBeL goes out to those of you still teaching in private schools where the inspector occasionally calls. It's been a long time since I rambled about life at St Jude's Academy for the sons ( or perhaps sins - "Give and thou shalt receive redemption or a plaque with your name on it in the new International section at the very least.") of the wealthy.

The inspectors are due to make their rounds to ensure that standards are being maintained. As I mentioned in a previous column the arrival of the Min. of Ed.'s mafia is the cause of much flustering, floundering and headless chicken impressions amongst teachers. Here to help is a quick n' easy lesson plan to use on the fateful day when the panicked cry of "They're heeeeere!" echoes around the playground.

Plan B

Be real, you wouldn't even be contemplating using this if Plan A had gone as intended. There again it's not too surprising considering you spent 3 months preparing Plan A, in accordance with instructions given by the Head of the department only to find that, with 30 minutes remaining before the Grim Reaper walks into your class. The original directives having been based on the ramblings of a mad 13th century monk and not the ISO manual (easily confused in times of stress).

Aim:

There's only one - to make inspectors believe that you are a conscientious and hard-working teacher.

Resources:

A class of children who are well versed in phrases such as "Excuse me please sir. May I ask a question?", "This is a most interesting lesson and no mistake." and "You're a wonderful teacher, you really are."

Before the lesson:

Ensure that all the children have experienced the exact same lesson on at least three previous occasions, and have at those times received significant monetary reward for good behaviour. The standard payment for model answers to difficult questions is a 500 Baht One-2-call phone card per answer, with the extra incentive of half an hour's filter-free internet access in the library for the most thoughtful comment.

Preparation:

Ensure that the walls are covered with the most interesting and inspiring work imaginable. More importantly, ensure that the children, if asked, will totally accept that the work belongs to them, despite the teachers having completed most of it during the lunch break and the paint on the 3-D representation of the double helix DNA structure still being wet.

Introduction:

Avoid starting the lesson in the usual "Shut up and listen, you ignorant morons" manner. Instead, use phrases like "I'm very excited about this lesson. I think we're going to learn something really super smashing." The children will be so startled by your apparent transformation into a character from an old 1950s movie that they will initially be struck dumb and appear totally attentive.

Waving the arms around and looking thoughtfully to the ceiling will give the inspector the impression that you are interested in your subject. One may find it useful to imagine oneself delivering a Martin Luther King style speech during this moment, as it will increase the potency of the emotion. Begin the second paragraph of the introduction with the phrase "I have a dream . . ." or " I have in my hand a piece of paper . ." - goes without saying that you look a bit of a tosser if your actually holding a board rubber ,marker pen or anything but an actual piece of paper, whilst using this phrase. Remember that.

During the introduction to the lesson, take the opportunity to comment on previous achievements by the children. These need not be actual achievements that have occurred, as most children will willingly accept praise for made up exploits.

"Before we move on to page 26 in the workbook, I'd just like to thank you all once again for the sterling work at last week's "Counterstrike for Chonnabot" computer games fundraiser. 146 Baht was raised and now little Nongluk na Upcountry will have a Christmas after all. Thanks for the donations as well, not one but two volumes of ‘The complete Duke Nukem cheat codes for sciving teens' are winging their way up to the North-east as I speak."

Main Activity:

Before the lesson, explain to the children that the inspector will be wandering around the room looking at the quality and quantity of their work. You should tell the children that the purpose of this is to identify the underachievers so they can be sent to a secure school in Laos.

If you should spot a potentially embarrassing child being approached by the inspector you will need to think quickly. A good ploy is to send the child to the school nurse to receive their medication. Take any arguing by the child as evidence that the previous dose has worn off.

If you run out of things to do during the main activity, the following ideas may help:

Look at your watch and nod your head.

Lean over the shoulders of children and point at their work.

Write words on the board (pretty much anything will be acceptable) .

Grin at the inspector (not quite sure why you need to do this but it works).

Say "Well done!" and "Fantastic!" in a loud voice to random students.

In closing:

At the end of the lesson, instead of shouting "Don't forget your mobile phones" as the children run aimlessly run from the room, calmly say "I feel we learned a great deal there, thanks class."




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