Teaching is very much my vocation. I see my primary role as an Tutor/ teacher being to provide a stimulating and challenging learning environment in which every student can meet their potential. I believe that the successful lesson will be student centred, enjoyable and diverse, yet incorporate sufficient support, challenge and pace to ensure that all students can make progress in their learning. As part of a unit of work it will build upon previous learning experiences of the student and assessment of their capabilities to inform planning. On entering the room, I will greet the students and challenge them with a task to arouse curiosity and engage them with Geography in a global context. Success criteria will be clearly communicated, and at all times, expectations of both progress and behaviour will be high. Within Geography lessons there will be frequent opportunities to develop effective learning habits through challenges that foster resilience, promote resourcefulness and develop reciprocity. Embodied into the lesson will be opportunities for students to assess their own learning and support each other through peer assessment. Some of this formative assessment will be through carefully nurtured questioning that will check and drive progress. Feedback via questioning will be specific, developmental and targeted to the needs of the individual. Through this reflective process students will be able to respond to positive and critically constructive comments to engage with their own progression. Whilst delivering the lesson I also feel it is important never to lose focus of the end game, exam success.
As a Secondary Comprehensive School teacher, I work with a wide range of abilities within mixed ability groups, from Level 1 to Level 9, including students who have a range of learning differences, including SpLDs, ASD, behavioural and physical needs. I work closely with Teaching Assistants to provide differentiated learning programmes for individual students. Using Individual Learning Plans along with empathy and personal experience, I have enabled these students to succeed and achieve outcomes appropriate to their abilities. At FE level, differentiation would be incorporated into lesson plans. I would liaise with support staff and direct students to sources of additional support or assessment for Access Arrangements, where required. Within my classroom I emphasize taking personal responsibility for delivering excellence or PRIDE in your learning. I have a positive outlook on life and believe that students flourish when given praise and constructive criticism, therefore I always provide a practical approach to learning that develops concrete examples for students to learn from and then allows them to explore more abstract solutions. I value the role of fieldwork to develop Geographical, communication and interpersonal skills which can be transferred to the world of work.
I believe every young person has a personal story, comprised of many different elements, including social background, cultural heritage and life experiences which all influence their values and attitudes towards learning. It is my responsibility to ascertain each student’s strengths and weaknesses from their Secondary School data, outside agency reports and progress across their college subjects, to ensure personalised learning and foster a productive working relationship with that student. Providing opportunities for students coming to college from different Secondary settings to gel as a group, will be an important part of lesson planning and classroom management, to enable students to communicate effectively and challenge each other’s views within a culture of mutual respect.
Whilst at Ludlow School, I have fulfilled a number of management roles, including a pastoral role as Head of House in a vertical tutor system, Subject Leader in the Humanities faculty and Coordinator for the cross curricular theme of Environmental Education. Within these roles I have worked alongside, and led, teams of professionals, whilst developing assessment of my own strengths and weaknesses. I have been said to be a reflective practitioner by colleagues and senior managers. In 2012 I stepped down from the role of Subject Leader to focus on being a good teacher. I am entering my 32nd year of teaching and still love teaching Geography to 11 to 16-year olds. The most exciting part of the job is challenging the young people’s preconceived ideas about the world in which they live. There is always something new to learn and a surprise just around the corner.
From my initial teacher training at the Institute of Education at London University, I have developed Schemes of Work that cover curricula for a range of subjects, obviously Geography, but also PSHE, Citizenship and Religious Education. When developing a Scheme of Work, I feel it should always be viewed as a dynamic process that is flexible and collaborative. In Geography, the Scheme of Work must always be updated to meet any new curriculum and exam board requirements, as well as to respond to changes that constantly occur in the physical and human world. At present within my department, I have developed units of work for KS3 and KS4. In KS4 I have collaborated with colleagues to develop units of work for Eduqas ‘B’ GCSE Geography to cover the syllabus. This has included attending Exam broad led CPD and using online materials provided by the Royal Geographical Society, to keep myself abreast of the dynamic nature of Geographical pedagogy and thinking.
Back in my university days I was lucky enough to have two great opportunities to visit polar environments. Firstly, I visited Iceland to study Volcanology and Glaciology. I then spent an incredible six weeks in the summer of, 1987 exploring and carrying out scientific research in Svalbard. Sadly, I never got to see a live polar bear, but the footprint was pretty impressive! Coming full circle, I have been fortunate to be able to support my 22-year-old son in his Geography degree studies, whilst keeping my own subject knowledge up to date. I continue to take a keen interest in his MSC studies in Remote Sensing; a rapidly developing technological application of Geography, processing big data, which has the potential to provide solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our planet, both now and in the future.
My motto is, ‘If you enjoy something it does not feel like work’, so I am very fortunate to be able to combine my love of the outdoors with my determination to get young people to cherish their environment, which I mainly do through out of school visits and outdoor education. As well as completing numerous trips to Shropshire’s Outdoor Education centre at Arthog, I have led trips to Aosta in Italy, France and, for the last 14years, to Nassfeld in Austria where I have introduced over 300 children to the joys of an alpine winter environment through the pursuit of skiing and snowboarding. I have even used my ‘Wood Badge’, obtained for the completion of the Scout Association Adult Training Programme, to run a Bush Craft after school club and help both Explorer Scouts and students complete their Duke of Edinburgh Awards. I have been a Scout leader in Shrewsbury for 15 years, during which time I have been a leader on two World Scout Jamborees to Sweden and Japan. This summer I will attend the WSJ in West Virginia, USA as a member of the International Service Team, which promises to be an amazing experience on a grand scale.
Personally, I am patient, persistent and dedicated to helping young people achieve their potential, so that in the future they can make informed decisions and follow the pathways of their own choice as responsible and confident adults.