This year, I have been thinking about how to improve the teaching and learning in my department. A few key areas will be the focus for us, and I think they are useful for any teacher of RE.
1. Establish an ethos of personal development.
Only as reflective practitioners will we be best placed to achieve excellence in the quality of our teaching and learning. I aim to lead by example and have adopted an ‘open-door’ policy for any teacher to observe my lessons at any time. I am open to new ideas and hope that my own research and observation of colleagues will help me learn new skills, reflect on different pedagogical approaches and enhance my own practice.
2. Proper implementation of the NQT programme.
I have attended some in service training so I am ready to support my two NQTs fully this year. Meeting regularly, observing and being observed are all crucial for developing their skills, helping them address their weaknesses and reach their full potential as classroom practitioners.
3. Proper work scrutiny and effective moderation of marking.
This can be key to improving teaching and learning. Such opportunities provide a vehicle for sharing ideas and experiences. Effective formal feedback and assessment for learning let pupils take control of their own learning and empower them to take control of their own targets.
4. Sharing good practice.
This year I have added a standing item to our regular department meetings. It is important to share the best teaching ideas in the department. Sharing resources (especially online in a shared school intranet area or on sites like Dropbox) is a good way to spread the planning load across the department as well as give opportunities to try new things.
5. Communication with other departments.
Talking to and observing the lessons of other teachers is one really good way to improve teaching and learning.
6. Centrally collating marks.
I like to collate marks across a whole year group following formal assessments and comparing them to ‘raw-ability’ data (such as MidYIS and ALIS tests) can provide a good selection tool for which pupils need intervention sessions. Of course this should be done in discussion with the teachers too; data does give a good indication of those who are under and over performing but their teacher can give the best picture of whether they need support or stretch. .
7. Remaining up to date with the national picture of RE.
Organisations such as NATRE, RE: Online, Cullum St Gabriel’s Trust, Educational Blogs and social media outlets such as Twitter is crucial for getting ‘beyond the bubble’ of your school. For me, it is invaluable (and free) CPD!
8. Training Courses
Finding time to get out of school and onto a course is so important, especially when implementing new GCSEs and A Levels. Going to the exam boards to learn about assessment is important and many even offer online training which negates the need for a day away from school. Equally important is enhancing your own subject knowledge: find your area of weakness and turn it into a strength!
Anything I have missed? What are you doing to improve teaching and learning this year? Comments welcome below.
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