Teacher Toolkit: Thinking of Becoming a Teacher?

I was always going to be a teacher. It isn’t one of those situations where I say ‘for as long as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher’. No, in fact I wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter when I was younger (who didn’t want to be able to make the Thunderbird Island and go on all those adventures?!). But teaching seemed to find me. For many years I thought I would be a Primary School teacher but after about 4 years of voluntary work during my college and early degree years, I realised it wasn’t quite the right fit for me.

So I started to look into different options for teaching older students. There was no question in my mind that I wanted to teach Philosophy and Ethics in the hopes of re-creating the intellectually stimulating environment that I was so fortunate to experience myself at college (mainly due to my wonderful teacher who I am now very fortunate to teach alongside). However the thought of having to do my teacher training in Secondary RE, in order to teach A Level, frightened me to the core (those stories will definitely be kept for a future blog!)

Still I persevered and when the time arrived I applied for the one year Secondary Religious Studies PGCE at Durham University. My interview consisted of a written activity, group activity and then panel interview. Now I was as prepared as I could be, don’t forget this was prior to Google been the fountain of all knowledge but one question in particular threw me through a loop!

“You have ten minutes to design a scheme of work on any topic of your choice to teach to a year 8 class last lesson on a Friday.” My first thought…you want me to design a what?

So with this in mind, last year I piloted an Enrichment course with any students considering teaching. This course was meant to run for the whole year but due to lockdown was of course cut short. I am once again running the course with a new cohort of students for one hour a week. I designed the course to explore many different areas of teaching including: looking for the right route into teaching, preparing for an interview and the pedagogical practice behind teaching. All the things I was naively unaware of.

I wanted to share the Toolkit Pack I have designed to help, guide and encourage any other students exploring the possibility of teaching. It comprises of a multitude of questions, with some reading, to help focus students on important aspects of teaching. It is catered for Primary teaching through to Post 16.

The Teacher Toolkit Pack contains (download here):

  1. What makes a ‘good’ teacher?
  2. Teaching Acronyms: what do they mean?
  3. Myths about Teaching
  4. Avenues into Teaching
  5. Writing a UCAS Personal Statement (This also might help: How to write a UCAS Personal Statement)
  6. Interview Preparation for Teacher Training/ Degree
  7. Lesson Planning
  8. Teaching, Learning and Assessment
  9. Special Educational Needs (More on Autism can be found here: Autism Awareness: How aware are you?)
  10. Ensuring Questioning Impacts Students’ Learning (Check this out for more: Ensuring Questioning Impacts Students’ Learning)
  11. Dealing with Behaviour Issues in the Classroom
  12. Differentiation
  13. What is Happening in the World of Teaching Today? (This is a great website to help with this: ResearchED: Keeping a finger on the pedagogy pulse.)
  14. Lesson Observations
  15. Preparing for Work Experience
  16. Reflections of Work Experience

I hope you find it useful when preparing for a future in teaching.

Charity Event for Sight Support

This year I launched a Philosophy Ambassadors programme designed for a select group of students who wanted to help on Open Evenings, enhance subject advertisement, provide subject mentoring for other students and extra support through study sessions. One idea discussed was organising and running a charity event. Now this is something that I have never done with my students, mainly because I could never think of a way of raising money that was different from the usual fundraising. But loving a challenge, we ran with the idea of a charity event and brainstormed lots of ideas of how to go about it.

The charity we selected was the Yorkshire Coast Sight Support, who support those with sight loss and visual impairment across Scarborough and the wider area. This local charity has a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who organise social groups and meetings and offer assisted technology and equipment essential for people with sight impairments. We decided that for our event rather than collecting money, we would collect donations (e.g. clothes, dvds, books, toiletries, children’s toys, games) for the Sight Support charity shop. After weeks of preparations including designing posters, contacting local schools and informing parents, we launched the event at the start of January. I am very pleased to say that over a three-week period the students collected over 30 bin liners and 20 boxes full of donations to sell in the shop.

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Day One

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Week One

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Week Two

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Finale

We also put a number of collection pots around college including the staffroom, canteen and library. In total we raised over £200.00 for the Guide Dogs as well. I would like to thank everyone who donated and enabled this event to be such a success. Also a huge well done to the Ambassadors for all their hard work!

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When in Rome…

I travelled to Rome many years ago with my family and since then I have always wanted to take students there – call it No. 1 on my Teacher’s Bucket list. 298983_248143781900923_773827034_n[1]The history, culture and religious undertones that floods through Rome is just captivating and inspiring. The problem was organising such a big trip! Now maybe it is the philosophy teacher in me but sometimes in life it feels like a window of opportunity opens…well that is exactly what it felt like on a college conference at the end of last school year when I got talking to Claire -a local R.S. HOD who mentioned an upcoming college trip to Rome in 2019. Spotting this opportunity I just casually said ‘Oh well if you need anymore to join you just let me know.’ Well you guessed it…in September I got the email that invited 10 of my students to join them on a 5 day trip to Rome (and me of course)!

Now I don’t know if any of you have organised such a trip before but it is like opening Pandora’s box of tasks from collecting payments, passports details, organising a presentation evening, sending endless emails and updates to students and parents, not to mention filling out all the paperwork, risk assessments and codes of conduct…my list went on. image1 (003).jpegMy saving grace was Claire, who had not only run a similar trip before but organised all the Rome elements from itinerary, accommodation, to transport and trips. Before we knew it the date had arrived, we were all packed and ready (wearing our Rome hoodies, armed with passports and even some homemade cookies and flapjacks from one Mum) and off we went to the airport.

We met the other college at the airport, seamlessly went through customs, had an amazingly easy flight and we were in ROME! Once bags were collected, we met our tour guide and coach and headed to the Catacombs were we wandered through the maze of underground tunnels, studied the art work and remaining visible relics and listened to the history of the many Christian Martyrs and pontiffs once buried there (with some still remaining). Once leaving the labyrinth of passageways (I would not want to get lost down there!) and re-entering the warmth outside we made our way to our hotel.

Up the winding roads towards our hotel, we were surrounded by epic views of Lake Albano, the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and Rome itself. Our hotel, Villa Palazzola a 13th century Cistercian monastery, was absolutely breath-taking! What a privilege to stay somewhere that housed monks and friars for centuries. Once unpacked we settled in for the evening, lounging on the beautiful terrace together whilst the students played cards.

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