Beginning teaching in lockdown and beyond!

This blogpost is focused on beginning teachers. It starts with a focus on the specifics of training during lockdown. It then draws your attention to resources for beginning teachers that you might not be aware of and shares news of upcoming resources to look out for next term.

Training to be a history teacher is different this year, but it is not a deficit model. Up and down the country, beginning teachers and the colleagues who work with them, have been adapting to remote learning in lockdown. Alongside established teacher colleagues, beginning teachers have been learning to adapt their practice to teach online, to teach large groups in school socially distanced and to still teach good history. They are resilient, they have learnt how to focus very hard on the purpose of the learning and to think very carefully about how to achieve that learning. They are creative, they are thinking hard about what they have learnt about history teaching and are applying it in new ways. ‘Move Me On’ in TH179 captured some of their voices.

Chelsea Winter (@Chelsea11487071), currently training at the University of York, has been planning with the EEF’s rapid evidence assessment in mind. She describes her planning this term: “During the weekly History meeting, it was organised who would plan/adapt the next topics for remote learning. I offered to plan an 8-lesson sequence for Year 7. Due to the fact these lessons would be used by the entire history department (eek!), I spent a lot of time thinking about what really needs to be included. One of the most challenging parts of teaching online is really seeing if students are engaging with the work they are being set. Therefore, I have aimed to utilise the short live lessons we have for KS3 by encouraging participation from the students; this has been in the form of quizzes or working together with interpretations etc. It has been great to work with the department and feel like I have contributed. It has also been very enlightening to really consider how much of our lessons we really need the students to take away and how the live lessons can support their independent work.”

Chelsea also writes about the challenges that she has found as a beginning teacher: “Personally, I think the most challenging part of training last term and now during lockdown has been the difficulty of building relationships and trying to figure out where you fit. Given the Covid-19 rules, it was challenging to try and teach from a box at the front of the room. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome in training connected with building positive relationships which you simply cannot achieve with social distancing and extra rules. This also applies to relationships with colleagues, it is difficult to build a relationship outside of the lesson feedback given the constraints. I think in previous years, it would have been a lot nicer to sit in a department office with colleagues without having to worry about another teacher not being able to come in as there are only 4 allowed in at any time. Also, the ‘unknowing’ factor of lockdown is very difficult. Though I think everyone has become very resilient during lockdown, not knowing what is around the corner is certainly very scary.” This is an honest account that gives colleagues working with beginning teachers an insight into just one of the challenges that our new colleagues are facing. Victoria Crooks (@UoNSoEHistory), PGCE History lead at the University of Nottingham, has been writing really helpful blogposts designed to help with work to support beginning teachers in these weirdest of times.

The HA is very aware that not every beginning teacher has a dedicated team of subject specialists around them whose role it is to support their training to be a history teacher. To help beginning teachers there is an increasing range of resources being made available on the HA website.

Firstly, there is a new, and growing, series of films:

  1. An intro to disciplinary concepts.
  2. An intro to lesson planning – part one and part two
  3. Questioning in the history classroom – part one and part two

Watch out for more films in the next few months on topics such as literacy in the history classroom and building subject knowledge quickly.

Meanwhile, the What’s the Wisdom On…? articles and films are designed to give the back-story and an introduction to the years of thinking that have taken place about specific concepts. The series New, Novice or Nervous suggests intro TH articles on topics. And the back catalogue of TH’s regular feature ‘Move Me On’ is here. And subject knowledge updating while you run, or cook, or iron is available via the many podcasts from historians. If time is tight, then these book reviews are very useful. With the regular TH feature ‘What are historians arguing about?‘ introducing debates also worth a look. Meanwhile the old HA pamphlets can be an accessible way into brand new topics and provide material for interpretations to be used in class. If you are stuck for ideas and need a boost to your creativity, the back catalogue of Triumphs Shows and Cunning Plans may help.

The HA conference in May 2021 will feature a strand for people working with beginning teachers and will see the launch of the revised and newly curated resources for course leaders, mentors and beginning teachers on the HA website. More news on that soon! Follow @histassoc for updates.

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