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NQTS Tricks of the trade


Mike Tidd takes a look at what tools a new teacher can


use to help them survive their first years in the classroom


T Blogs


For the last few years I have found blogs a great source to further my understanding and learn new skills as a teacher. I have always said that a teacher never stops learning. Just like our students, we as teaching practitioners are constantly learning new techniques to improve the methods we use in the classroom. This is part of the reason why I love teaching, it is never dull and is a challenge I relish on a daily basis. Out on the blogosphere are some brilliant writers


who share their teaching experiences, daily routines, ideas, schemes of work, lessons – you name it and teachers are writing about it! Reading about someone else’s experience can create and add to your armoury of activities. Some of the best writers out there are Ollie Bray, Dave Rogers and Alan Parkinson who I wholly recommend reading.


Working as a team


Teaching can sometimes be a lonely job, with yourself up against 30 students challenging you. It can sometimes feel like you are the Lone Ranger but that is not so. Using people around you can make your life much easier, especially when you need help or guidance. For a young teacher this is possibly the best tip I can pass on – talk to those around you. I have worked in some great departments where


working together and sharing ideas/workloads makes everybody feel important and better about themselves. The success of a Department should improve too with more minds working together. The work/life balance is very important and should never be forgotten.


Thinking outside the box


Being innovative and brave within a classroom can bring enjoyment, success and respect. I admit not every idea I have tried has worked but those that do can enhance the student’s experience of your subject. Trialling new ideas improve your lessons and


enjoyment as a teacher. It is not always easy trying out new ideas. It is very easy to stay in the comfort zone but without trying out new ideas we do not develop ourselves as teachers and will not improve.


SecEd • January 13 2011


HE LAST 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 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. 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


VI School in Suffolk, 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. Making sure your strategies are manageable and flexible, you are able to keep a good grasp and move the strategies forward. The last year has made me think back to my days as


a young fresh-faced NQT, where I had no management responsibilities and was starting out on my road as a teacher. Teaching in my opinion is the greatest role in. To actually see the look of wonder and understanding on someone’s face is something that cannot be bought. To pass on knowledge and see where it takes a young person in life is amazing. Last year I wrote an article for SecEd called Proud


to be a teacher, outlining my reasons why teaching is the best profession, from teaching a subject you love and have a passion for, to motivating and inspiring young people. From those thoughts I wrote down the tools and key things a teacher needs to survive in the classroom.


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.”


Enjoy your lessons


As teachers we work long hours and spend many lessons preparing and planning work. We have the aim of teaching the national curriculum and working with our students on achieving their personal best and gaining the grades they deserve. But we must enjoy our working life. There are


many pressures in the education industry and targets to achieve. As I have said, teaching is the greatest role in life that someone can do. To actually help young people in life choose a path in their life with your encouragement and guidance is breathtaking. With this a sense of humour is needed. My friends and colleagues will know I sometimes


refer to teaching as stand up comedy, you must be think fast on your feet and be quick-witted where possible. We are working with some tough, intelligent and emotional young people who will test us all at some point. There is much to enjoy from teaching, just don’t forget the positives!


Assessment for Learning (AfL)


AfL is a very important skill and is an area where we could develop within geography – my own subject. 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


As teachers we must be more reflective of our own practice and make amendments where we need to. We must use 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.


SecEd


• Mike Tidd is head of geography at Gillingham School in Dorset. Read his education blog at www.miketidd.com


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