I’m a Biology teacher. But I came to Biology relatively late. I studied English Literature at university, switching to Zoology in my final year, a decision that has basically shaped the rest of my life. I mucked about in Uganda for 5 years watching antelope copulate and photographing chimpanzees, before eventually doing a PhD (on red-billed oxpeckers) in Zimbabwe.
All of this was useful in confirming that I would make a useless academic/photographer/development worker/student of English, so I decided to try teaching. I did my PGCE and started as a Biology teacher at St Pauls in London in 2000.
To cut a long story short…. teaching has worked out OK. I like working with young people, I like the autonomy of the classroom, I like the creativity required to plan successful lessons. And over the years…
….I have come to realise that my job is not to deliver information to students, but to get them excited about Biology. If I can do that, then everything else that teachers generally worry about (exam grades, mainly) takes care of itself. And I also believe that the best way to excite students in science lessons is to make it like science – in other words, a way of answering interesting questions through experiment.
So I like my students to do as much of the work as possible, and to say as little as possible myself. For me, a successful lesson is one where I’ve been able to make a coffee and tidy my desk while my students busy themselves with some investigation. I think that if students spend a lesson copying notes from the board, then that lesson has been wasted, as the students will not have learned anything and, worse, they will have been bored rigid.
The aim of this blog is to share some of my ideas and resources with other biology teachers.