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Help with non Specialist!

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by nigiollabhui, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. nigiollabhui

    nigiollabhui New commenter

    Hi All,
    I have a really good non specialist teacher taking half of yr. 9 classes. The teacher is enthusiastic, motivated and creative in their teaching however the classes are underachieving. I have checked the marking of assessments and I would agree mostly with the levels given, I am aware of a core group causing behaviour problems in lessons but they are across the board. I have put a class on report, we have discussed seating plans and planned lessons together but I am at a loss as yet again in achievement report the 5 groups this teacher has are mostly underachieving.
    I'm not sure where to go with this as I feel 74 students underachieving is excessive! The teacher is a History specialist and wondered if the teacher is thinking too much like a history teacher and not emphasising the higher level RE skills enough. Any advice or tips to help improve on this would be great.
  2. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    I had exactly the same problem a few years back. I just couldn't figure it out, so I went and observed a series of lessons. It was pretty easy to see that she was lacking something that all specialist RS teachers (well maybe that's optimistic, most of us) take for granted, which is a geniuine passion for the subject. I think students can read that stuff and they could see that despite her energy, creativity etc there was still a sort of mechanic approach to RE. As a result, the brightest students weren't inspired by her. She wasn't carrying students along with her in that sort of sweep that RS teachers manage to pull off. Interestingly (though not importantly, I'm sure) she was also a history teacher.
    I thought long and hard and really tortured myself about how on earth I would support her knowing that she actually wasn't really doing anything wrong. We came up with two solutions. The first was that she sat the GCSE exam with the students. When she looked at the kind of work she was doing with them and the kind of stuff she was writing for herself I think she realised there was a gap. Also, the more she studied the more involved and interested she became (with weirdly remarkable results). With the younger students, I gave her some lesson plans on really unusual stuff that she didn't know about or even guess at: the existence of Jinn in Islam, the transfiguration of Jesus, and a project on comparisons on life after death beliefs across Eastern and Western religions. She was honest and told the classes it was new to her, and that these were things she hadn't really thought about or known about and so the students seemed to take the opportunity to lead the lessons in terms of discussions (and endless anecdotes about grandad Bertie who reappeared to grandma Mildred 10 minutes after he'd died etc etc).
    Obviously, it depends on your school and your context. I can only speak from personal experience.

  3. nigiollabhui

    nigiollabhui New commenter

    Thank you both for your response and ideas,
    it is just so frustrating, the teacher was observed today by HOCA (who is also History specialist) and they recieved a good with outstanding features and this class is underachieving! I have been rejigging the SOW's and really like the idea of Jinn in Islam. I already cover a topic on angels so it could link in with that as a comparison. I really want them to start using P4C in lessons and create learning enquiries on concepts.
    I feel bad as I have said already the enthusiasm is there but the levels are just not. I think what you have said leviosa about allowing time to go off topic is right and don't think this teacher does allow this much. I might bring it up as a tip to spend more time allowing students to discuss and explore concepts. Thinking about it the teacher does tend to move through the scheme of work alot quicker than other teachers do.

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