Teacher Tools

With the new term fast approaching, I have started preparing for my new classes and aims for the year. Before the summer break I outlined my five objectives for the year ahead and wrote about them on my blog back in May. These were:

  • Teaching & Learning
  • Assessment for Learning
  • Reflective Teaching (including observations)
  • Technology
  • International link with a school abroad and feeder schools

With these five objectives in mind it has got me thinking what are the most important tools to achieve this? What do we need as teachers on a day-to-day basis? What are the best web pages/blogs for guidance? What tools can we do without to teach? I will be putting my list together on the next few days, but I would like to hear your views and share them.

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Reflective Teaching

This year in education has been one of change and planning for the future. With the new GCSEs, AS/A2 curriculum changes it has given me much to think about since I joined Gillingham School in September 2009. Joining a very successful school and department I have had big shoes to fill, a challenge I have relished. I believe I have put in place the correct building blocks for the future. This month I have had a chance to look back and reflect upon our successes and future developments. For a successful department I believe you must not look at too many areas to change, focus, innovate or tweak. Geoff Barton, Headteacher of the King Edward XI School likened managing a large department to plate spinning, you have to be able to manage each of the areas you start to change – too many and the plates start crashing around you. Personally, a maximum of five strategies/innovations is perfect. Making sure your strategies are manageable and flexible you are able to keep a good grasp and move the strategies forward.

Idris Mootee, of  the innovation playground blog,  has said, ‘innovation is hard, it is not about getting the ideas at all, it is about managing ideas. So you have a few great ideas, so what? The future is never about the future but now.’

The five strategies we will be focusing on are outlined below:

  • Teaching & learning

The primary target for improvement this year revolves around teaching & learning within Geography. As a Department we want to teach the best we can and we are looking at our lessons and seeing where we can make improvements and implementing new teaching strategies. We must make our teaching experience more personal for the students and improve their independent study skills. This must be developed from KS3 onwards and carried on within the school.

  • Assessment for Learning

AFL is a very important skill and is an area where we could develop within Geography. As teachers we are sometimes too controlling and we must put the onus back on the students for them to achieve. Investigating methods and ways of implementing this into our schemes of work must be one of our priorities. This will encourage student learning and raise achievement across all year groups. AFL will also help improve the student’s knowledge of using a mark scheme and what to include in a good answer. This will reduce our marking and in the long-term our workload.

  • Reflective Teaching (including observations)

As teachers we must be more reflective of our own practice and make amendments where we need to. We must utilise our strengths and work on our areas of development. Observations are vitally important to watch other teachers and how students learn. This would be ideally done within the Department and with other Departments once a term where possible. This should therefore improve our own teaching and benefit the students .Working with other colleagues will help develop cross curricular opportunities to raise achievement throughout the school.

  • Technology

Geography has prided itself on using technology where possible to improve our lessons and the student experience. This needs to be further developed to further enhance our learning and the students. GIS must be developed within the Department across all year groups.

  • International link with a school abroad and feeder schools

As part of our role in the local and global community we would be looking to develop a link with a school abroad. This would develop our student’s knowledge of their role within a global community and understanding of issues that occur worldwide.

Locally we would like to work with the feeder schools on developing our link and improving geography. This would enhance geography’s status and develop their geographical knowledge. Geography is sometimes not always taught in primary schools to a high level and we would like to develop this to help their progression and achievement later on.

Please get in contact regarding what your departments/schools are planning/changing for the future…I would love to hear them especially in these uncertain times with possible budget/curriculum changes.

innovation playground

A blog I have been recently reading courtesy of my brothers’ insistence is Idris Mootee’s innovation playground. Idris is a business strategist and business specialist who blogs about his thoughts and feelings regarding business, innovation and emerging technologies. He is the founder of Idea Couture, winner of the innovative company of the year award. 

Idris Mootee is an authority in strategic innovation, a system and design thinker, Idris partners with clients in all sectors globally to identify their highest-value innovation opportunities, address their most critical challenges, explore strategic options and develop breakthrough ideas.

Idris is a huge fan of thinking outside of the box and using your imagination to move forward or solve problems. It is a very thought-provoking, interesting and humorous read regardless of your education/business background. Idris has several ideas that can be transferable to a school or department. I particular love his use of quotes in his blogs (how does he know so many?!?).  He is very forward thinking who is always trying to stay one step ahead of the crowd…which perhaps is why he is very successful at what he does. I recommend reading innovation playground…it’s the future. It has many links to education and how we teach young people using his ideas from the world of business, a major part is enjoying yourself and having fun. If we gave a five-year old a cardboard box, a pen and a ruler and told them to design a hotel, they would. But if we gave the same scenario to an adult, they would come up with problems. This is a process that happens as a person gets older and we seem to put up barriers. We must become more innovative in education and look outside the box occasionally.

If Idris would ever like to catch up for a coffee to discuss the future of schools and education I would be more than happy!