Specialist Experience and Skills
My experience working as a Religious Studies and Philosophy teacher: As an examiner of Religious Studies, I have always ensured I maintain up to date knowledge, discipline and practice so that the students I teach and exam are given an accurate level based on their performance in lessons and the actual exam. I believe Religious Studies holds an important place both in Pastoral and Academic Curriculum. Religious Studies facilitates an understanding of the beliefs structures which underlie value systems. It provides evidence and examples of ways in which beliefs and values have directly affected... Read More
My experience working as a Religious Studies and Philosophy teacher: As an examiner of Religious Studies, I have always ensured I maintain up to date knowledge, discipline and practice so that the students I teach and exam are given an accurate level based on their performance in lessons and the actual exam. I believe Religious Studies holds an important place both in Pastoral and Academic Curriculum. Religious Studies facilitates an understanding of the beliefs structures which underlie value systems. It provides evidence and examples of ways in which beliefs and values have directly affected people's lives through the making of choices and selection of priorities. It provides a critical frame of reference which transcends personal, group, ethnic, political and national interests and enables pupils to use it. It takes account of faith as an important motivating factor in people's lives. It offers an alternative approach to life than either secularism or materialism. It offers opportunity for controversial issues to be examined sensitively, avoiding possible indoctrination by default and it offers cross‑cultural insights.
As a teacher of Religious Studies and Philosophy, I have always ensured my students develop the ability to reflect, communicate and challenge themselves to pupils think and ask questions. I use questioning techniques and provide a safe environment where students can share their own viewpoints, being sure of their own beliefs whether religious or non-religious, and provide an environment that makes religion and beliefs come to life. From my own observations, practice and experience, I believe that Philosophy and Religious Studies are subjects that evaluate many aspects of life, morality and social issues. They also help to develop higher thinking skills and allows students a platform to think, analyse and evaluate what they believe. In my role as a Religious Studies and Philosophy teacher, I feel that I have helped students develop through my schemes of work the skills of moral reasoning and critical analysis.
My experience working with exam students: Having attended subject network meetings in the past and liaising with the examining board at regular intervals I have kept up to date with current assessment requirements and arrangements that are determined by exam boards for the exam subjects I have taught. This has enabled me to implement the changes and adapt existing strategies for learners. Using terminology that examiners use on a regular basis and also building in examination techniques has allowed students to be more confident year upon year in being able to present their knowledge and understanding in the way it is required by examiners. Alongside this, clear target setting is made to ensure that students are clear in their understanding of what is required for their progression; through using levels, grades and success criteria. I have worked closely with my students in making levelling and grading more explicit to students so that students are aware of what levels they are working at. Assessment and monitoring of students’ progress is not only through exam outcome but also in the form of both summative and formative assessments which are planned into lessons to allow me to monitor progression of my students’ understanding; ensuring challenge for all through accessible means.
My experience improving student progress and outcomes: My responsibilities have been to plan, develop and teach schemes of work according to the National Curriculum for Key Stages 1-3 and according to exam specifications for KS4. This was done in a way that ensured each student could access the curriculum at their level and need and have a positive learning experience. In addition, I prepared and implemented a programme of study from IEPs by identifying and targeting student needs; I have been responsible for writing reports for each student on a half-termly basis, creating a comprehensive account of their progress, attitude and behaviour and also targeting areas of improvement and recommendations of strategies for integration or reintegration into education. Other responsibilities included reporting to the SEN and Medical Needs coordinators of individual pupil progress, queries and problems; maintaining regular contact with parents, schools and specific departments within schools, teaching staff and head-teachers about individual cases. In addition, I have had regular meetings with other professionals, such as the Educational Welfare Officer, Educational Psychologists and Speech Therapists.
I have been actively involved in developing different curriculums through planning and reviewing learning sequences, to incorporate a wide range of strategies including assessment for learning, to ensure that high quality provision that is robust and rigorous is provided regardless of abilities. I have also taken on board whole school initiatives such as literacy for marking, data analysis to inform planning, so that relevant intervention and support can be put in place for students that require it and so that students are clearly aware of what skills they are expected to work on and develop.
I have implemented whole school policies into my teaching practise. This has been through taking on and developing areas of focuses which I have led and managed, including assessment for learning, formative marking, reviewing learning objectives and literacy by incorporating them into all lessons (English, Maths, Humanities, Science, and PSHEE).
My experience working as an English & Maths teacher: I have had over 16 years of teaching English and Maths. My students typically develop a new enjoyment and satisfaction with English Literature and Language, as I am able to explain things to them that they have struggled or been dissatisfied with. Students that struggle with Maths are given clear focuses and methods to help break down the questions, especially with reasoning questions. I can teach to the exam board syllabus, or alternatively provide my own materials. I have developed and applied different pedagogies to enhance the learning of my students. I have developed an up to date working knowledge of the requirements that is statutory according to the national curriculum and GCSE. Using terminology that examiners use on a regular basis and also building in examination techniques has allowed my students to be more confident year upon year in being able to present their knowledge and understanding in the way it is required by examiners. Alongside this, I always set targets for students to ensure that they are clear in their understanding of what is required for their progression through using levels, grades and success criteria. I have developed an in-depth knowledge and understanding of how to enthuse students through the content and transferable skills that allow for progression. Examples of this include being able to identify key skills and GCSE exam questions from past exam papers. This has been done in a way so that there is clear progression from the start of the academic year to exam preparation in the spring term. Whereby at the beginning students learn how to answer exam style questions that carry less marks and slowly building up to essay style exam questions which carry more marks. I also use a range of strategies to engage and develop students including challenging tasks to start, revision games, plenaries, target grids, quizzes, vocabulary bank and flash cards. I use a range of literary texts to broaden their understanding of fiction and non-fiction writing as well as helping them understand the writing process and different strategies that can be applied to mathematical questions.
I have extensive experience as a Religious Studies and philosophy, English, and Humanities, teacher and private tutor working within the mainstream educational system as well as within SEN - autism (including high functioning), social, emotional and mental health, non-verbal, language and communication delay, dyslexia and Downs Syndrome, Medical Needs and alternative educational units. In addition, I have been successful at working with those students who needed to improve their GCSE grade as well as those students who needed to improve a specific area whether it was essay writing skills, reading, creative writing, algebra. My experience to date, has involved teaching mixed ability classes at key stages 1, 2, 3 and 4, in mixed inner-city comprehensives within England. This has given me opportunities to teach a diverse range of students from different ethnic and social backgrounds. Through teaching, I have established the ability to modify my style of communication according to the audience and need; from an individual, small group, class or larger setting. I have been able to develop various pedagogies to address young people’s learning styles, therefore catering to individual those students who are visual, auditory and kinetic learners.
My additional experience as a peripatetic teacher of Special Needs and as a Private Tutor has meant that I have had to work independently with a diverse range of students with a variety of learning needs. I had to ensure that more lessons were specific to their needs and my approach was individualized to the needs of each student. This could be in a volatile situation where I would need to adapt my approach according to the emotional and mental state of each student at the time. The opportunity of being an educational practitioner has enabled me to create engaging resources and learning material, as well as differentiating for students with different learning abilities ranging from high attaining students to EAL and SEN students. Through the monitoring of students and their attainment, I have been able to pin-point under achievement and set specific targets in each case. My work as a teacher in PRUs, tuition centres and alternative educational sites has enabled me to support, engage, motivate, teach and integrate pupils with SEBD, SEN and medical needs into mainstream or alternative education; this varied from working with a year 5 non-verbal EAL downs-syndrome student working at P-levels, enabling him to access language, reading, ICT and the creative arts to students with SEBD and additional complex needs.
My experience working with autistic students including high functioning autism: I have learnt that no two students are the same and therefore my approach has been to have a range of approaches and strategies. I have used daily timetables including visual schedules as a way of structuring the day or lesson so that students know exactly what they will be doing, which reduces anxiety and disengagement as well as a homework schedule to ensure that set tasks are done. Ensuring a range of tasks that can stimulate throughout the lesson has been an effective way of managing emotions and improving focus and progression. In addition, I always keep instructions specific, concrete and task orientated so that students know exactly what is required of them. Lessons are very structured and student-specific so that continuous progression is made. Cross-curricular approaches to teaching and learning in other disciplines has meant that explicit reference is made to what is taught in other subjects such as maths, English, PSHEE, art, science involving photography, crafts, research, writing essays, which helps develops students’ mathematical, scientific, creative and literacy skills.
My experience working with students with anxiety and low self-esteem: I usually start lessons with different breathing exercises and body scans. I also use visualisation techniques, music and focus points to help reduce anxieties and refocus students. This helps them to engage better within the lesson and helps build calm. I also embed creativity within the lessons so that students have a space for self-expression and self-reflection. I feel that I have helped students develop through my schemes of work the skills of self-reflection and self-awareness as well as helping them to develop reasoning and critical analysis; allowing students to voice their concerns and how they feel about teaching and their progression in lessons.
My experience working with students needing study, social, life and career skills support: I have delivered lesson activities that are appropriate to the students’ social, cultural and religious backgrounds as well as learning ability through strategies such as role-play and discussions. Role-play has helped students to rehearse situations that they may encounter as well as developing problem solving skills and empathy with others. Through discussions, the students have been able to address social and moral dilemmas, review and reflect on what they have learnt. Furthermore, there has been a raise in self-esteem and students have learnt new strategies to manage risk. I have also ensured that students have had access to differentiated material that is appropriate to their ability. Through lesson planning and the use of questions, discussions and formulaic methods for extended writing and examination questions, group activities and paired work students are given opportunities to develop personal and social skills. Through looking at the secondary curriculum I am aware of the need to look at the key skills that run through subjects such as Functional Skills, Preparation for Working Life, PSHEE, Humanities as well as the wider curriculum to ensure students have an understanding of the key process and skills within any subject area, developing a working knowledge on how these skills can be transferred within different subjects and in a wider context through life, which can then be applied to exam attainment.
My experience working with dyslexic students: This has involved using creative methods alongside traditional phonics, literacy and numeracy intervention to help develop foundational skills in communication and self-esteem improvement. In addition, I have used critical thinking, philosophy for children and short tasks to improve concentration, memory and focus skills. My certificate in psychology has helped gain the knowledge and understanding of dyslexia, short-term and long-term memory, processing and engagement.
Throughout my career, I have ensured that I have had a full awareness of my professional development, through taking posts that furthered my skills and developed me as a practitioner. Skills that I have developed are organizational – through managing my job as a teacher and private tutor, for example; planning the lesson time, learning activities, and resources effectively. Alongside organizational skills, I have developed good interpersonal skills through my role as a teacher in various education environments, working with different subject teams, through my position as subject leader for Humanities and PSHE in the PRU; working closely with families, key workers and clients. I am flexible – I have been in situations where a lesson is not suitable for a student or group, therefore adapt accordingly. Behaviour management is another skill which I have sought to develop - I will use a range of strategies to diffuse a volatile situation; I am quite perceptive and will automatically gauge a student’s emotional state before a lesson to create a safe and productive environment for them. I provide differentiated lessons – I have taught a range of students and therefore I am able to create individualized learning resources and curriculum based on each students need and interest as I know that there is not a one box fits all. Through my additional teaching of SATS, 7+, 11+, comprehension skills, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, essay writing and study skills; numeracy, literacy, and phonics, I have acquired different skills to enable a student to access the lesson material and make good progress.