NEW! Support for beginning history teachers

The HA has launched resources to support beginning teachers and those who work with them. Are you thinking of becoming a history teacher? About to train as a history teacher? In your training year? In your first year in post? In the first three years of your history teaching career? Working with beginning teachers? If the answer to any of these Qs is ‘YES!’ than these new resources are for you. And, you know, they are even worth a look if you are a bit less of a beginner, but just need a refresher!

What are the resources?

In the ‘Beginning teacher‘ section of the Secondary Tab on the HA website you will find three new sections:

  • Structuring Learning for Beginning Teachers is a section primarily for people organising the history specific learning of beginning teachers. It has updated the resources produced by the HITT project in the first decade of this century. The support is organised into five subections: 1) Understanding progression in learning to teach history; 2) Working with adult learners; 3) Principles and considerations: constructing a teacher education programme; 4) Roles and responsibilities of school-based mentors; and 5) Assessment of beginning teachers.
  • Teaching for Beginners is for colleagues in training, for colleagues in first post who may not have had a training that focused on history teaching, for anyone new to teaching history and for the mentors and course leaders who work with them. The process of learning to be an excellent history teacher is, of course, career long. Therefore, the period of being a beginning teacher is only the start of the learning journey. While there are certain things, such as the structuring of a history lesson, that are learnt as a beginning teacher, learning to teach history is not a linear process. The same resource about subject knowledge may be used by a beginning teacher and a more experienced colleague, even if the questions they ask and the use they are able to make of the resource differ. As a result, this section draws heavily upon other parts of the Historical Association’s large selection of resources for teachers. These are introduced from a beginning teacher’s perspective. Activities to support beginning teachers’ development are also be provided. The section is divided into three sub-sections. The first, is called ‘What is history in schools?‘ It is an introduction to the discipline of history in schools to support beginning teachers’ learning about the nature and purposes of history in the school classroom and to know something of past and ongoing debates that surround the subject. The second sub-section is callled ‘Historical knowledge‘ and it introduces beginning teachers to how knowledge is constructed and understood in the history classroom. It also introduces the framing and organisation of that knowledge, from the single lesson via historical enquiry to the history curriculum across the key stages. The third sub-section is called ‘History classroom practice‘ and introduces many topics, from historical literacy to assessment and from SEND in the history classroom to learning beyond the lesson.
  • Beginning teachers’ professional learning will go live very soon! In this section you will find ideas, resources and activities to support the professional learning of beginning history teachers who are at the very beginning of learning to be a history teacher, as they gain more direct classroom experience in their first year, after gaining QTS and in the first few years of their teaching career in school, and as their professional learning continues in the first few years of their teaching career. This section also considers the research underpinnings of history teachers’ professional learning and what beginning teachers can bring to support a culture of professional development.

Supporting resources is a section that provides lots of links to really useful HA series such as What’s the Wisdom On…?, the HA podcasts, the training films and Move Me On. It also links to other really useful history teaching websites and has a reading list.

Beginning teachers’ historical knowledge audit

In the section ‘Beginning teachers’ professional learning’ there is an audit document that is designed to be used by colleagues as they start their first history teaching post and during their first year. Most colleagues find that in their first year the business of getting to grips with classroom history teaching is all consuming. A simple RAG (red, amber, green) rating audit is provided to help colleagues to audit their history teaching knowledge and to identify any gaps that they need to fill and/or to support them where they feel less secure in their knowledge. The audit provides support by guiding colleagues to where they can gain/refresh the necessary knowledge for a beginning history teacher if their audit identifies some areas as amber/red. An audit could usefully be done at the start of the year. Alternatively, it might be done part way through the first year to identify areas where the beginning teacher would benefit from revisiting and rethinking their practice. Colleagues beginning to teach history will benefit from working on this audit with a mentor, both in the initial audit and then as they work on the areas identified as gaps in, or insecure, knowledge.

What about the Core Content Framework?

The ITE Core Content Framework is generic in nature and a minimum entitlement for people training to be teachers. All the resources and activities provided by the HA support colleagues to develop their knowledge and experience relating to the CCF’s 5 core areas. However, becoming a successful history teacher (and maybe later a subject leader) does not happen by focusing on the generic. History teachers, history teacher educators and academics have built up a research and knowledge base that is history specific. The subject community is full of lively professional discourse that feeds the further development of classroom practice. These resources draw upon that wealth of existing knowledge and will continue to develop via learning from research and community discourse. This approach fits with what Amanda Spielman, HMCI, talks about when she refers to inspection looking “more closely at the substance of education: what is taught and how it is taught,…”

Why not use the phrase ‘early career teacher’?

A phrase being used in education policy in England at the moment is ‘early career teacher’. This term is being used to describe the first two years in post. The generic Early Career Framework applies to these years. While all the resources here are absolutely for these colleagues, they are also for colleagues in their training year, colleagues new to history teaching and colleagues in their third and even fourth year in post. After the fourth year in post colleagues are eligible for HA Teacher Fellowships and to apply for Chartered History Teacher status. The resources on these new pages are for the first stage of a history teacher’s career, from thinking of history teaching to the point of having seen a couple of years of exam classes through and being much more experienced.

But there’s not much here for anyone in their second and third years of being a history teacher yet!’

True – but watch this space! Or rather, keep an eye on the HA website and the secondary CPD calendar. We are planning an exciting new course for early career teachers who are beyond the early days of settling into their practice and their first post. We hope to launch this new course in the spring of 2022.

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