Biology teacher in final of global prize

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A biology teacher who sings and dances while teaching difficult concepts is one of 10 finalists in a $1 million international teaching contest.

Richard Spencer from Middlesbrough takes an unusual approach to teaching complicated scientific subjects, singing and dancing round the classroom and getting his students up and moving. He says his method works, as his students enjoy his classes and “learn a lot from joining in”, and that when he bumps into former students years later they can still recite some of the songs he taught them.

Dr Spencer has made it to the final of the new international teaching competition and will be competing against teachers from the USA, Kenya and Afghanistan. His success is based on a range of teaching approaches: “I adopt this style of teaching to engage the students in some very complicated processes in biology, complicated structures, and to get them to say the words which are quite difficult,” he said. “We do other things as well, like experiments and traditional teaching, but this just livens things up for them and they respond fantastically well.”

He is the only UK representative left in the £650,000 Global Teacher Prize, the BBC reports, which will be awarded for the first time next month. It has been created by the Varkey Foundation to raise public recognition for the importance of teaching and encourage high-quality recruits to the profession. Sunny Varkey, who started the foundation, said: “We introduced the prize in order to return teachers to their rightful position, belonging to one of the most respected professions in society.”

Our best wishes to Richard Spencer for success in the final! What unusual techniques do you use to make complicated subjects more enjoyable for pupils?

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