Now we are drawing closer to the end of the summer term and concluding the academic year of 2014 to 2015 I need to bid you farewell. I leave you with some of my inspiring reflections after my first year as a teacher – inspirations that I hope will stay with me throughout my career.
I hope I have made a difference to my learners. Not only do I hope that pupils have made progress in an academic sense, but also I am optimistic that I have empowered them.
Empowerment is close to my heart – hence the subjects I teach. There can be nothing more powerful than embracing difference within the communities in which we live, respecting and celebrating who we are as well as who are neighbours are. Becoming global citizens is what our national curriculum indicates. I hope that the young people I have worked with this year are empowered to be open-minded and accepting of others.
Having had a mock election in May, I have contributed to building awareness of change and continuity within school, town and national environments – I hope that all my pupils will be voting in the General Election of 2020.
I hope I have been able to open minds to the respect and understanding of others. We have seen examples in the media of intolerance and segregation, so this is often a hard task – especially when we are also wrestling with levels of maturity in our pupils that are still to develop (and are mindful of pupils’ home lives and family values too).
Teaching year 10 sociology, I cover key concepts including equality, age, gender, class, ethnicity, disability and how these issues inform and mould our identities as well as social constructs like family, crime and deviance in order to give context to these ideas. Pupils apply their understanding to the nature-nurture debate – how much of our values, behaviour and attitudes are instinctive or learnt?
While facilitating this learning, the majority have been wonderful at engaging and appreciating the differences they will experience as they grow up. Likewise I have had pupils who have struggled to engage with issues of diversity, which has necessitated further intervention.
Teaching key stage 3 philosophy I have endeavoured (especially with year 8) to share ideas and understanding of key questions like: what are the explanations of faith and religion? What happens when we die (comparing and contrasting beliefs of various world faiths)? How multi-faith is our school/local community/the UK?
This has begun to open young minds to concepts they may not have explored or had to make judgements about before, but my hope is that I have enabled them to take ideas and beliefs and unpick them respectfully to comprehend rather than ignore or dismiss.
I am confident, too, that I have contributed, along with my fellow teachers, to building students’ resilience to feedback and self-awareness of what they are good at – as well as how they need to improve.
Tools like self and peer-assessment assist a pupil in acknowledging good effort and application as well as identifying where improvements can be made. Group working also builds flexibility to collaborate, which in the wider world is a vital skill.
Opening minds to understanding diversity can be hard as we have the challenge of living in a very White town, but it is vital to engage pupils with their world as they grow in independence and mobility.
My pupils are my future – they will shape the world I live in as they become influential adults. I want to help them develop intellectually and morally and I feel a profound responsibility to help them develop maturity and engagement with society.
SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of sociology and philosophy from a school in the South of England.
NQT Special Edition
This article was published as part of SecEd's NQT Special Edition – an eight-page special published on June 25, 2015, offering guidance, advice and support to all NQTs and trainee teachers. To download the full eight-page section, which was produced in association with the NASUWT, click the Supplements button above