Preparation is everything

As the new academic year is about to start, it is vital that preparations start now.  Boy is that a depressing thing to think about when I am still on holiday!

But even though I have been teaching for over 30 years, and in truth, I can walk into any lesson at any level and make up a reasonable lesson plan in my head within 2 minutes, it does not change the fact that I must spend a little time planning the year – it is a lesson I learnt early in my career and have never forgotten it – “preparation is everything”.

There is little doubt that if the presentation of IB Physics is to be taken seriously, then a teacher needs to start now, by planning what you intend to do with the syllabus and getting some idea of what your target deadlines are.

Answers to the following questions are needed:

 What is the order of teaching?

 For HL, how will I be teaching the extension material – at the same time of the core or at a different time?

 What Optional Topics should I teach and when?

 Where do I want to be by the Christmas, Easter and Summer breaks?

 When will the Gp4 project be run?

 How will I be planning the practical work and IA?

For example, let’s be honest, HL Physics is too big for the time available.  This does not mean I will not be able to cover it all, but it does mean two very important things for my teaching:

1. I must not waste too much time.  I must keep the pace high right from the start.  If I don’t then I will not finish in time, having completed everything I need to do.  This means that the students may not have enough revision time – which is a sin on such a linear course as this.  I did this once and always regretted the lost time – it will NOT happen again!

2. I must not embellish much.  Although this is not a waste of time, it has the same effect on the pace through the course i.e., it slows it down.  This is not a simple problem to overcome.  My students pretty quickly pick up on the fact that Physics is a passion in my life and they learn that if you ask aimless questions, I will explain stuff and effectively they slow the pace down.  Good teachers must look for this happening and control it.  Countering this, I feel very strongly, that part of my job is to show students the beauty and wonder of Physics.  In this way, I may be able to inspire them to go on and have a career in this subject.  In my school, the physics department is good at this – we have close to 90 students doing Upper School Physics (A-Levels and IB) and around 50% of them go on to read Engineering or Physics at University!

If you are new to teaching IB Physics, then hopefully these blogs will give you some insight into such problems.  I am also team-teaching the HL course this year, for the first time.  It is a trial and we will see how it goes.

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