Mapping out the future for next generation
Published: 10 Feb 2016
Liz Crisp is head of geography at St Margaret's School for Girls. Here is a day in her life.
I am very much a morning person and aim to be in school early, usually around 7.15am. I enjoy the quiet hour before the girls arrive as I like to be organised and have everything well planned.
I have been at St Margaret’s for 20 years and I love the environment. I have a cup of tea and catch up with colleagues and look forward to the arrival of my first year form class.
We spend time together, attending regular assemblies or participate in form time activities. The morning is spent teaching a variety of classes from S2 to S6 – we have small class sizes and I know the girls I teach really well, building up a relationship with them over time. First and foremost I try to instil a love of my subject while helping them to complete their courses.
I make a point of always having 20 minutes or so to sit down and relax away from my desk and the classroom. Lunch is salad and fruit in the staff room and I enjoy chatting with colleagues.
We are a close knit community and support each other in good and more challenging times. One day a week, I run a social chess club for girls in the junior school, one of many extra-curricular activities on offer.
Geography is such a dynamic and useful subject which develops a whole range of skills in pupils. In the classroom, we use a variety of teaching and learning methods – for example using play dough to model glacial features – as well as in our geography fieldwork.
Each year group participates in fieldwork to places such as Loch Muick and Stonehaven beach, all of which must be carefully planned and linked to our courses. Many of our former pupils’ enthusiasm has continued beyond school, and they have gone on to study geography at university, including my own daughter who was a pupil here for 12 years.
I like to keep in touch with former pupils and often receive news of what they are doing. The school’s new database – St Margaret’s Connect – will enable us to do this more readily in future.
There are sometimes after school meetings to attend, such as the Learning and Teaching working group or work which needs to be done to develop the new Curriculum for Excellence courses.
I was recently appointed an associate assessor for Education Scotland and will be involved in school inspections and quality improvement visits for two or three weeks per year. Although this will be a very different activity for me, it still enables me to remain in the classroom and be involved in learning and teaching.
There is work to be done once I get home, marking and further lesson preparation. I am also often busy with e-mail in the evenings and weekends.
I was president of the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers – which has 500 members throughout Scotland – from 2013 to November 2015, when I stood down at the end of my term of office.
As past president, I am still involved in arranging meetings and events, as well as issuing information, all of which is aimed at raising the profile of geography in Scotland.
I also enjoy meeting and socialising with geographers and friends and following the geography community on Twitter. Baking is a passion of mine and I fundraise for Marie Curie and Macmillan by baking cakes.
I also volunteer at Roxburghe House hospice. Family time is important and we enjoy attending concerts and I enjoy reading. I need my sleep so don’t stay up late, as pupils soon realise when we are away on residential field trips and they discover I can be grumpy in the late evening and as bright as a button the following morning.