Teachers’ stories: Christopher Collins

  • Teachers’ stories: Christopher Collins

The moment I…

...first felt ‘in charge’ in a classroom.

When I first stepped foot in a classroom during my PGCE year – it was a Year 11 group taking GCSE science and I was to teach them the heart and circulation. They listened well, and I felt completely confident of my knowledge, and that in the next lesson, they would be able to dissect a heart. Perhaps it was this ‘carrot’ that made them really attentive to what I was saying.

...knew I’d reached a previously unreachable pupil.

‘Thank you for everything. I really appreciate what you have done’. Those words were spoken to me at my first GCSE results session. The student who spoke them had been really difficult and challenging throughout the year, and I had struggled to respond positively to him. It was wonderful to know that my work had been appreciated, and that he had achieved well beyond his – or my – expectation.

...first got positive feedback from students.

A card dropped in my office one day. It was from a student whose group I had taken over. The card read: ‘Before you took over, science was my least favourite subject, but now it’s my best.’ What delighted me even more was that this was the first of many cards from the same group. It was great to receive such positive feedback so early on in my career.

... considered giving it all up.

In spite of all the ups and downs, I never have considered doing anything else.

...got so lost in a lesson, time ceased to exist.

In working with my AS and A2 groups we often digress to enjoy discussing the excitement and wonder of science. One day, we found ourselves debating genetics, evolution, and the influence of Darwin in such depth that we all felt disappointed and surprised when the bell rang for the end of the session.

... found myself being taught by the class.

Every day. We all have so much to learn from our students.

... I never tire of experiencing.

I’ve always loved the quote from Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” It always pleases me to watch a student understand a concept; then immediately question it.

...will always remember.

Seeing the reactions of the students when I persuaded our Learning Team to dress up for the day as Greek gods and goddesses, in appropriate flowing robes and wreaths of myrtle, sprayed gold – and all to celebrate a day dedicated to the forthcoming Olympic Games.

Fact file

Name: Christopher Collins

Age: 34

Job title: Director of Learning

School: Tendring Technology College

The best bit: Enabling students to unlock their imaginations and discover science. the worst bit: When people think anything below a C grade is not worth having. Christopher Collins was named Science Teacher of the Year (East) at the 2011 teaching awards. Find out more at teachingawards.com