Pipped at the post: how to support beginning teachers struggling to get their first teaching job

Photo by Edmond Dantu00e8s on Pexels.com Every year I observe our beginning teachers applying for jobs, and every year it is hard to predict how the die will fall.  Invariably a few fortunate souls will get the first job for which they apply.  Equally, a few unfortunate beginning teachers will end up applying for quite … Continue reading Pipped at the post: how to support beginning teachers struggling to get their first teaching job

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Seeking a Second Opinion: Feeling undermined by your ITT mentee

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com The Mentor’s View Sonya is a new mentor. She has been shadowing a colleague in the role for the first time this academic year and has really enjoyed taking a more active role with the ITT student. She has appreciated how thinking like a mentor has sharpened her own … Continue reading Seeking a Second Opinion: Feeling undermined by your ITT mentee

What am I meant to be looking for?  Supporting beginning teachers to undertake effective observations of other teachers

Photo by B.Bailey on Pexels.com The vast majority of initial teacher training routes begin with time spent observing more experienced and ‘expert’ colleagues in the classroom.  The role that this observation plays in providing a ‘frame of reference’ for beginning teacher’s subsequent or concurrent practice is well established (Hagger, Burn, Mutton & Brindley, 2008, p.169).  … Continue reading What am I meant to be looking for?  Supporting beginning teachers to undertake effective observations of other teachers

A case for using historical fiction in the history classroom

  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com I love history because I am nosy. I love people and studying the way they relate to one another.  My only other option is gossip and celeb watching.  History feels like a more wholesome way to indulge my nosiness, and historical fiction provides an avenue for it to be … Continue reading A case for using historical fiction in the history classroom

The Comparison Compulsion: Sailing your own boat

Photo by 10 Star on Pexels.com On 21st April 2020 at the height of the UK’s first Covid-pandemic lockdown, Damian Barr’s tweet, about the varying ways people were experiencing and ‘coping’ with the challenges of that period, went viral.  This analogy took on a life of its own because it so brilliantly evokes something we … Continue reading The Comparison Compulsion: Sailing your own boat

The magic of teaching a history lesson with coherence direction and purpose

Photo by Vinu00edcius Vieira ft on Pexels.com There was a magical moment in a lesson I recently observed where you could almost see on pupils’ faces the relevance of the lesson collectively ‘click’.  Following a retrieval practice exercise on the Reformation and actions of Henry VIII at the beginning of the lesson, and the discussion … Continue reading The magic of teaching a history lesson with coherence direction and purpose

Avoiding the Observation Trap: Interpreting generic mentoring approaches through a subject specific lens

This blog is jointly authored by Vic Crooks and Laura London based on a presentation we gave at the Historical Association Conference in May 2022.   Back in January, this blog introduced you to Tom who was struggling to understand why things were going wrong in his teaching.  His mentor has identified ‘pace’ as an … Continue reading Avoiding the Observation Trap: Interpreting generic mentoring approaches through a subject specific lens

Setting the albatross free: Teaching without PowerPoint

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com As a young teacher beginning my career just after the turn of the millennium, my first classroom was fitted with the ultimate in modern technology – a roller board incorporating both a blackboard and a whiteboard!  I also shared an OHP (OverHead Projector) with my colleague in the room … Continue reading Setting the albatross free: Teaching without PowerPoint

Feeling despondent? Why beginning teachers need to keep on climbing

Photo by Yevgeniya Fedorova on Pexels.com I am not a hill walker.  I love visiting the Lake District, but I would much rather a nice walk on the flat around a lake (perhaps with a quick stop at a tea shop) than battle up a hill which quickly turns into a mountain.  Why?  Because I … Continue reading Feeling despondent? Why beginning teachers need to keep on climbing

Teaching children about sensitive and controversial current affairs: Talking to children in schools about the situation in Ukraine

This blog has been developed from a twitter thread (27/2/2022) relating to supporting children and young people to understand the situation in Ukraine. Photo by Santiago Sauceda Gonzu00e1lez on Pexels.com The teaching of sensitive and controversial issues in school is always contentious.  Teachers are tasked with navigating the finely balanced rights of the child to … Continue reading Teaching children about sensitive and controversial current affairs: Talking to children in schools about the situation in Ukraine

Making a move: How can I switch from primary to secondary history teaching?

Photo by Sanndy Anghan on Pexels.com I feel convinced of the need to keep good, committed teachers in the profession, and am therefore pragmatic about the fact that teachers sometimes find themselves falling ‘out of love’ with their current situation even if they still feel committed to the overall endeavour of education.  For the vast … Continue reading Making a move: How can I switch from primary to secondary history teaching?

Let’s work together: Supporting your mentee to work with support staff *

*This blog is written within the context of the secondary phase.  Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com Since Hakim started at Skyview Academy, high levels of staff absence have meant he has been working alongside a number of supply teachers and cover staff rather than the class teachers to whom his timetable is attached.  Recently, … Continue reading Let’s work together: Supporting your mentee to work with support staff *

Remote Opportunities: becoming a teacher during Omicron

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com “How are you finding online teaching now?” I asked one of our alumni ECTs at the end of February last year - they had contacted me at the start of January feeling anxious about how to make the move into remote learning during the lockdown (you can read about … Continue reading Remote Opportunities: becoming a teacher during Omicron

Targetting Tom’s Transitions: Moving smoothly between phases within a lesson

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com The start of the lesson hooked pupils into the learning beautifully and Tom, the beginning teacher, valiantly moves the class onto the first independent task. Within minutes the lesson, which promised so much, has been overtaken by a ripple of off task behaviour.  By 5 minutes in only the 3 most compliant pupils have achieved anything even vaguely resembling a response to part … Continue reading Targetting Tom’s Transitions: Moving smoothly between phases within a lesson

‘Singing from the same hymn-sheet’: school-based mentors’ partnership with university ITE/ITT subject tutors

You can read a recent research paper I've co-authored via this hyperlink: Crooks, V., London, L. and Snelson, H. (2021) ’Singing from the same hymn-sheet’: Exploring school-based mentors’ perceptions of the role of HEI subject tutors in ITE partnerships’, TEAN journal, 13(1), pp.3-16. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Showstopper Lessons: What Beginning Teachers and their Mentors can learn from GBBO.

Photo by Vojtech Okenka on Pexels.com I love baking and all things cake.  So, having recently written about what mentors might learn from Strictly, I now turn my attention to what beginning/ early career teachers and their mentors might learn from Bake Off and the nature of the three baking challenges included in each episode.  … Continue reading Showstopper Lessons: What Beginning Teachers and their Mentors can learn from GBBO.

Strictly Come Teaching: Giving feedback to novices

Photo by Marko Zirdum on Pexels.com Watching Strictly Come Dancing this past weekend I was struck by the way the judges gave feedback to the contestants in week 1 of the competition.  Unsurprisingly my mind turned to the beginning teachers just starting out on their own journey from novice to competent over the course of … Continue reading Strictly Come Teaching: Giving feedback to novices

Education NOT Training: The uncomfortable truth about effective initial teacher education

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com Periodically social media is liberally sprinkled with negativity about ‘teacher training'. This isn't the kind of negativity about teaching that prompted the 'Those who can, teach’ campaign in 2000, rather this is negativity about the training itself.   For those considering embarking on teacher training who stumble across these posts, … Continue reading Education NOT Training: The uncomfortable truth about effective initial teacher education

Turning on the head of a pin: Why developing agency in beginning teachers matters

Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com If the pandemic period has convinced me of anything it is that developing professionals with agency is vital for society.  The ability to imagine an alternative to what is already known and practised, and to find a way of enacting that imagining, has been part of our daily experience over … Continue reading Turning on the head of a pin: Why developing agency in beginning teachers matters

Perfectionism and the honourable art of being good enough

Not that long ago, to my shame, I found that 15 minutes had passed as I scoured the web for the ‘perfect’ picture of an iceberg to illustrate a point about bilingualism in the classroom. Why did I do this? Did I imagine that my adult audience would struggle with the concept of an iceberg? … Continue reading Perfectionism and the honourable art of being good enough

‘I predict a riot!’ Supporting your mentee to notice and deal with low level disruption*

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com Low level disruption (shouting out/ whispered conversations/ persistent clicking of pen lids/ ignoring instructions) in the classroom is the scourge of teaching and learning.  It eats up time and energy and takes away learning opportunities from the wider class. There is nothing really 'low level' about disruption - it impedes learning. … Continue reading ‘I predict a riot!’ Supporting your mentee to notice and deal with low level disruption*

I don’t like Mondays: Advice for beginning teachers on making a positive return to post-lockdown teaching

Photo by Max Fischer on Pexels.com As we stand on the precipice of returning to full classroom teaching after the most recent lockdown I’ve begun wondering how our beginning and early career teachers might be feeling.  It seems I’m not alone in this thought.  Indeed, shortly after having conversation with one of my own PGCE … Continue reading I don’t like Mondays: Advice for beginning teachers on making a positive return to post-lockdown teaching

Writing job references for beginning teachers: Recommending Rahul, the Pandemic Edit

It is a tricky job writing a reference for a beginning teacher who may then be compared with more experienced colleagues, but where to begin in the middle of a Pandemic when their initial teacher education year has been so disrupted and unusual?  I first wrote a blog about writing references for trainee teachers in … Continue reading Writing job references for beginning teachers: Recommending Rahul, the Pandemic Edit

An Ode to our History ITE Mentors: A journey into training to be a teacher virtually, Part 3

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com The pandemic has demonstrated the strength and versatility of cooperation and collaboration in our ITE partnership.  This has been shown through the support and flexibility of our school partners joining with us to train beginning teachers, and through the ways in which the University PGCE has worked to develop … Continue reading An Ode to our History ITE Mentors: A journey into training to be a teacher virtually, Part 3

Discovering Lego: Growing as an early career teacher

During the SHP Virtual Conference in July, I got into a Twitter conversation with a beginning teacher who, following Christine Counsell’s presentation on ‘The what, why and how of broadening historical content at KS3’, commented that he felt like a teaching toddler:   This feeling of not having done enough or learnt enough or not … Continue reading Discovering Lego: Growing as an early career teacher

From caveman to concepts: Making history count in the primary classroom

Back in March I wrote this blog for the UoN Primary Team's excellent Blog considering six ideas for developing primary history, along with some practical strategies. I now reproduce it here in case it is helpful to a wider audience. “Mum you’ll never guess what happened today!” These words we’re delivered by my 7-year-old with … Continue reading From caveman to concepts: Making history count in the primary classroom

Embracing the space: A journey into training to be a teacher virtually

Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com Before I begin this blog it is important to establish that I am utterly convinced of the importance of partnership in Initial Teacher Education.  Training teachers ‘outside’ the classroom environment in a purely theoretical realm is just not possible; theoretical knowledge cannot be easily interpreted by teachers into effective … Continue reading Embracing the space: A journey into training to be a teacher virtually

Moving beyond delivery: The thorny issue of competency

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com It is at around this point in the ITT year when many training teachers begin to get into their stride.  They are no longer complete novices; they have built a familiarity with their placement setting and its rules and procedures, they are understanding how to fit into the departmental … Continue reading Moving beyond delivery: The thorny issue of competency

A shape-sorter understanding: Why mentees find changing teaching placements so hard

We're approaching that time in the ITE year when our students prepare to move to a new school setting for their second teaching practice. Having just settled into their placement school, having just found their feet as beginning teachers, we uproot them and transplant them into a brand new context, with different children, staff team, … Continue reading A shape-sorter understanding: Why mentees find changing teaching placements so hard