There’s a section on the bottom of the model lesson plans that we trainees have been given called ‘escape route’ which I’d had explained to me but never seen in use before, until Friday last week.
The teacher in question was teaching a class for the first time. The rest of the year before hand they had been taught by a succession of cover teachers, and they had been changed to one of the schools permanent staff mid-way through the year to help pick them back up a bit.
He was teaching them how to solve simultaneous equations by equating coefficients and, bless them, they really weren’t getting it. This was nothing wrong with the teaching, he had started them off well with a fun starter activity, and explained the topic in an active, engaging way. It was just one of those things that happens sometimes in teaching – it just isn’t working that day. To be fair as well, the class were actually trying. They weren’t playing up, or failing to engage, they just weren’t grasping the concepts, which probably had something to do with it being the last lesson on a Friday.
Cue: escape route. about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the lesson, the teacher (having realised it just wasn’t working today) cut his losses and went for the back up option: a logic quiz. It had nothing to do with the topic in hand, and wasn’t intended to. It was intended to be something stimulating and engaging (so as not to waste their lesson time) but a welcome change from the topic that was going down like a lead balloon.
The reception from the class was really positive. They were all keen to engage in the puzzles of the quiz, and really happy not to be struggling through a task again. By the end, some of them who were struggling with the topic asked if they could come back to it next week “maybe on Tuesday, sir?” they asked.
Full credit to the teacher for planning an escape route and having it ready, as well as acknowledging that it wasn’t working and opting to use it. It showed a good awareness of the class and their level of progress during the lesson. It can really pay at times to be adaptable to the circumstances.