Schools and the university make distinct but complementary contributions to your learning. The course will provide you with the opportunity to learn from practical perspectives in school and from broader perspectives in university. You will be encouraged to critically analyse and reflect on both perspectives and to take an active role in your own learning. Your prior experiences are seen as a valuable starting point in developing your understanding of different aspects of history teaching and learning. This course encourages collaborative learning in which you will work as part of a team in both school and university in order to learn from each other as well as from teachers and the SD tutor.
The process of reflection is seen to be fundamentally important in learning to teach. You will encounter a range of new experiences and ideas this year. Reflecting and thinking critically about these experiences and ideas will enable you to make sense of them and clarify your own views. The course will provide many opportunities for reflection as described in the following sections. One important way of reflecting is to write about your school and university experiences and what they mean to you in your reflective BLOG. You will be encouraged to undertake some reflective writing at various points during the year including through assignments.
Learning in school: working with your mentor
Your mentor will play a key role in managing your experiences in school and helping you to make sense of them. You will meet with your mentor on a weekly basis. This meeting may include a range of issues for example: debriefing a particular lesson; reviewing your overall progress; the Professional Development Portfolio; SD topics and tasks; next week's programme; questions arising from a university session; or any issues you wish to raise. There is an expectation that you are proactive in raising any matters which you want to address in these mentor meetings. Most importantly you may find this a useful time to make sense of your university and school experiences.
You will undertake a range of tasks in school from observing and teaching lessons to discussing issues or planning with teachers. Your responsibility for teaching in school will gradually increase in order to help you make progress. You will take part in a range of structured activities including observation, supporting teachers, teaching parts of lessons, team planning, team teaching and teaching whole lessons. The rate at which you take on greater responsibility for teaching classes will be negotiated with your mentor and will depend on a number of factors including your prior experience.
You will be encouraged to learn from all your school experiences but particularly through the process of reflection through debriefing sessions with your mentor, class teacher, SD tutor or trainee teacher partner. In debriefing lessons you will be encouraged to ask and answer questions and arrive at your own judgements about lessons and how they could be improved, so generating ideas for action in your future teaching. This process can be used both when debriefing lessons you have observed and those you have taught. The following summarises how this process can work.
- Briefing: Focus of observation agreed by observer and teacher.
- Observation: Observer notes evidence relating to the focus
- Outcome: Trainee teacher identifies what s/he has learnt and decides on future action/focus for next observation
Once you start teaching, using audio, video, or a digital camera can be a useful tool to help you to reflect upon and develop your teaching. You may record a lesson which you are teaching (N.B. You will need to check with your placement school what policies they have in place regarding the filming or photographing of pupils), or you may (audio) record a debrief session. In either case, playing back the tape at a later point, in relaxed surroundings perhaps at home, may help you to understand and develop your teaching. Taping debriefs, in particular, enables you to think again about issues raised either by yourself, or by your mentor or tutor. You may find this is a good time to do some reflective writing.
Learning in school: INSET days
You may have the opportunity to get involved in school INSET days. In particular, it will helpful to attend training relating to new initiatives such as the KS3 Strategy and including the initiative Teaching and Learning in the Foundation Subjects. You should attend such training wherever possible and you may be asked to share you experiences with others in a university session.; you should always check whether you should attend particular INSET training with your SD tutor first.
Learning in university
Subject Didactic sessions in the university will provide you with a range of opportunities to help you learn about teaching. These sessions will contribute to your learning by giving you time to reflect and make sense of school experiences and raise awareness about issues in history education. Sessions will also add a broader perspective to your thinking by encouraging you to share and compare practice in your different schools. In addition, a range of broader issues and ideas about history teaching and learning will be explored such as research evidence, national policy and practices elsewhere. You will be encouraged to use these sessions as a critical forum for discussion of your own ideas about history teaching and for developing questions to explore further in school. Many of the activities followed in the university sessions will help to develop your pedagogical subject knowledge (ie. ways in which history can be taught effectively in schools).
Learning from trainee teacher peers
Although you will learn a lot from working with teachers, your mentor and your SD tutor, there are many opportunities for you to learn from your trainee teacher peers. You share with them the perspectives of beginning teachers which other personnel on the course cannot offer. Trainee teacher peers can offer enormous support in dealing with the emotional aspects of learning to teach, in sharing both concerns and anxieties as well as successes and good practice which you experience over the year. Your own individual teaching style will not be the same as any other trainee teacher, and you will have a different profile of strengths and weaknesses. If you are able to develop supportive and trusting relationships with peers, however, your discussions with them may enable you to develop your own particular style and strengths.
There are opportunities for working with peers in both university and school time. In the Homeschool you will, in most cases, be placed with a history or geography trainee teacher partner. Your Homeschool will arrange your timetable so that you and your partner will have at least one non-contact lesson at the same time each week. As you grow in confidence you may decide to observe each other teaching, discussing it after the lesson, following exactly the same procedure that mentors and tutors follow (see diagram on previous page). You are also encouraged to work with trainee teachers from other subjects outside the humanities area of the curriculum. It is hoped that, by developing links with other trainee teachers, you will begin to learn the value of working collaboratively in your own professional development, skills which are increasingly important in the role of a qualified teacher.
A suggested core reading list is given in this booklet. These books are a starting point. A more detailed list will be given to you at the start of the course which will suggest a list of weekly readings. Increasingly books and journals are on-line and the Library catalogue will list those that are on-line.
This may look dauntingly long! The readings will include a variety of books, articles and essays which are relevant to the themes of each week. You are not expected to read all the articles listed and your SD tutor will help you to prioritise the readings. You may, however, want to return to some of the readings if they are relevant to your written assignments. There is also a list of useful websites, many of which have been suggested by previous trainees.