Setting Cover? No need: Email exchange with Year 10 student

Co-Construction in Action with Year 10 Physics

This is the email exchange I had with a Y10 student earlier this week: (for some context take a look at this post and linked pdf to see what the co-construction process entails. Arjun is one of the team co-teaching the Waves unit this term. They had recently collected in some work from the class where different groups had researched an area of the e-m spectrum; their task had been to compile them into one…and were a bit behind schedule)

6.33pm: from Arjun

Mr. Sherrington,

Please find attached,the complete set of projects on the electromagnetic spectrum. I sincerely apologise for the delay which occurred, due to my concentration primarily upon my geography coursework.  Me, Karam and Kishen are very much looking forward to teaching the lesson tomorrow.

Apologies once again.

Regards, Arjun.

8.28pm from me

Hi Arjun
Thanks for this. I’m sorry to say that I’ve been called away from school tomorrow. How do you feel about leading the lesson without me? You cld intro eye defects and then set the qus from the books…..or do it on Friday? What do you think?
Mr Sherrington

 8.41pm from Arjun

That will be fine. We have more than enough material to teach and it will be a good challenge. I just phoned Kishen and he says he is okay with it too.  So we will be happy to take the lesson tomorrow.

9.10pm from me

Hi Arjun

Ok. Brave move which I respect hugely.  Can I suggest some a few points:

Firstly, explain all books to be ready for checking on Friday. We will go through rainbows and mirages then too. Then, ask them to discuss prior research into eye defects…. See what they know already before you explain it.

Try to let Kishen and Karam do their share of the talking and ask the cover person to help with managing the chatter!!

Try to get the class doing as many questions as possible using the text books or anything you have prepared.  If you feel you are running out of material, just set more qus from the textbook.  sYou probably have it all mapped out but I hope this helps.

Good luck!!  Let me know how it goes.

Mr Sherrington

9.39pm from Arjun

Ok thanks for the help sir

I will email to let you know how the lesson went


Next Day:

7.06pm from me

How did it go today?

Mr. Sherrington,

9.02pm from Arjun 

Mr Sherrington,

The lesson went very well today as we got through the short and long sighted explanations and corrections and also the fact that uses materials with higher refractive indexes allows us to make lighter glasses. We then covered laser eye surgery to the extent that the textbook described it and we also discussed how lasers work and their purposes. There was little disruption considering it was a cover lesson and there were a few minor instances where it was getting a little noisy but is was very good in general. I regret to say that I will be missing lesson on Monday next week because of the Year 12 MUN. If I can do any reading in advance then please could you let me know. Overall the lesson was a resounding success and we all contribute

Arjun 10Z.

9.33 from me

Dear Arjun

Thanks so much; that is superb news! It sounds as though you did a great job. I’ll bet Ms King was impressed. I think we may need to move forward to Sound next week but I can discuss this on Friday

Best Wishes

Mr Sherrington

Evaluation / Reflection

In today’s lesson, the one after the cover lesson, we tried to consolidate the students’ knowledge of eye defects and how to correct them.  I found that their knowledge was really good and they could apply it to some scenarios presented in a demo-discussion. I hadn’t taught them any of this at all so, the lesson that Arjun, Karam and Kishen led was effective.  I spoke to the cover supervisor, Mrs King.  She said it was an unusual lesson – but that the boys had done a good job taking ownership, giving input, asking questions and setting some work.  The management of chat and attention was the greatest challenge; in my absence it was harder for all concerned to stay focused.  However, the outcomes were very positive and the sense of ownership of the three student-teachers was very strong so, on balance it was a risk worth taking.  How much did the rest of the class benefit?  That needs to be explored further…. it certainly didn’t do them any harm and was more fun that a ‘heads down’ book work cover lesson.

Next lesson, this Monday, Kishen and Karam will be introducing the idea of red shift.  I have not planned the lesson with them this time but they feel that they have it all sorted and I will turn up on Monday trusting that they have some good ideas for a great lesson.


  1. I am a huge fan of your work and of the articles you post on your website. I admire the trust you have in your students to be able to teach a lesson in your absence. My concerns mirror the ‘even better ifs’ which you mentioned. They also sound like very confident young men.


    • Thanks. Yes, this only works because I can and do trust the students concerned. It wouldn’t work everywhere. However, I have done something similar before but where the cover teacher was briefed and took more control to allow the student input to work without any disruption.


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