Monday, 4 January 2010

Arrested Development? Part 2: Subject Sabbatical and making up the lost ground

I said in my initial post on this blog that one of the things I hoped to pursue this year was a Principal Teacher of subject post. I enjoy working in the school that I am in very much, and there are many elements of my development post that I enjoy. However, like many people that come into teaching late, I had a real desire to reconnect with my subject after several 'lost' years where I had barely used it. After graduating from Strathclyde in 1994 with a BA Hons in Geography and Politics, I spent six months unemployed. It was a pretty depressing time, on the wheel of constant interviews and applications, trips all over the country and appointments at the dole. In December of that year, I was recruited by Ladbrokes as a Unit Manager. My trips around the British Isles stopped, but my trips around Glasgow and Lanarkshire didn't. I managed fairly quiet shops, so any time there was an absence in a busier outlet I was like the relief manager. I suppose then, I had to use some kind of knowledge of place, but in reality, I had no use for my subject knowledge in this job! I moved on in the summer of 1998 to work in credit, and again, was out and about a lot, this time doing home visits around mostly the southside of Glasgow and then a wide patch of North Lanarkshire. I had wanted to pursue teaching for a long time and in 2002 I finally had the financial freedom to take a year out of working and retrain at Jordanhill.
I have never regretted my decision. Like any other job, it has it's ups and downs, but there are so many satisfying outcomes for me as an individual. To talk about things in which I have a genuine interest every day, to build relationships with my students in the class and to see them progress, even when it's tiny steps has an immensely powerful effect on me. Over the past couple of years, I have dabbled with the notion that I might be capable of managing a department. I know there would be major challenges, but I feel that I have benefited from a number of opportunities which have fallen my way recently, many in the last year. Although I have my responsibilities for development within the school, I would like to think that I could continue to develop my subject role in the coming year too.
Some of the initiatives that I was involved in last year and before which I think have helped me prepare for that next step are as follows:-
1) Representation of my department (environmental and life sciences, or Biology and Geography to you!) at Geography Subject group meetings for the last 3 and a half years. I have also in the past presented to the group on use of wikis and blogs in Geography.
2) Attendance at SAGT conference and subsequent involvement in the organisation of the conference in Glasgow for 2010
3) Curriculum mapping for a Boardworks resource against Experiences and Outcomes for CfE.
4) Collection of possible texts for the assessment of literacy in Social Subjects for the SQA. This has led to the opportunity to participate in resource development in the new year.
5) Participation in a teachers forum for Geography resources to link with BBC programming
6) Involvement in a group looking at future models of assessment, again via the SQA. I attended and presented at the last meeting of the group and will hopefully be able to continue that involvement in the new year.
7) Using Glow and Glow meet to enhance learning in Geography- I am one of two people in the school who requested a Glow password before they were given a wider release, and have used it as a platform to allow students to participate in a live session from the Copenhagen Climate Change conference, as well as using the glow meet function as an extension of home supported study. I also shared this at whole school level with two of the deputes and the rest of the school community through the school website.
8) My use of my lessons and resources blog to share with colleagues and students, as well as giving me a space to reflect on lessons and gain feedback from others. This is essentially a detailed record of work for me.
9) Building a network of other educators and individuals/organisations who will help me develop my knowledge of subject and pedagogy through twitter.
10) Although this is fledgling, I have been part of a collaboration on a unit of work aimed at s1 students using the Pixar films as their background. This has seen the contribution of ideas from several colleagues around the country, and I have set up a google wave and a wiki page (to be completed as the ideas progress into lessons).
11) Attendance and contributions at the regular Geography Flashmeetings set up by Tony Cassidy. This has, for me, been the best source of subject CPD that I have had in the last year, and takes my head out of my own classroom and curriculum to see the range of ideas, resources and strategies that others are using in the subject field.
I hope to see the list above develop and ideally grow as the new year progresses, and I think the biggest challenge in doing this will be managing my time effectively, especially ensuring that my family remain at the top of that priority list at all times.

No comments:

Post a Comment