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Teaching outside of your main subject

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by elliejo, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. elliejo

    elliejo New commenter

    Hi Everyone,
    I'm carrying out some research into teaching outside of your main subject and would like sone feedback from others in a similar situation.
    Here's my background: trained in Music and RE - now teaching Maths and RE - RE has become my main subject and Maths is my non-specialist subject but I teach 17 periods of Maths to only 5 periods of RE. I do absolutely love what I'm doing and as I've been teaching for 23 years mixing up subjects isn't a new thing for me.
    If you are so inclined I'd like to hear experiences from some of you out there who have had to teach outside your specialism - something along these lines:
    1. Do/did you enjoy the experience? If so, why? If not, why not?
    2. Did you have any choice in the matter? Would it have helped if you did?
    3. If you are in charge of curriculum allocation, how do you make those choices for your staff? Do you consult staff prior to allocating them non-specialist teaching time? Why/why not?
    4. Do you have any advice for those approaching this situation for the first time?

    Thanks so much... :)
  2. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    1 Yes
    2 Yes
    3 Yes
    4 Embrace opportunity. Get up to date training asap. Go on courses regularly. Observe specialists.
    elliejo likes this.
  3. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    1. Yes. An opportunity to keep learning about a subject and a challenge. It helps if it is a subject you are interested in anyway.
    2. Yes. I completed my PGCE in History but couldn’t get a job in the subject so started looking for jobs teaching English, for which there is a lot of crossover.
    3. I wasn’t in charge of it, but I would have appreciated a bit more flexibility from the HoD when teaching KS3.
    4. Don’t be frightened; even if you think your subject knowledge is light you will know more than the kids and you can always buff up your knowledge (and if a student does catch you out, it has probably happened to subject specialists as well). Plenty of background reading, and make sure you know the exam specs.
  4. varcolac

    varcolac Occasional commenter

    1. Do/did you enjoy the experience? If so, why? If not, why not?

    Depends. Politics, absolutely loved it, ended up being head of subject for it. Geography, less so as I had bottom set KS3 and inherited some bad advice on how to teach it.

    2. Did you have any choice in the matter? Would it have helped if you did?

    I was asked at interview if I'd mind teaching them. I said I'd be very interested in Politics, and I could have a go at Geography in Year 7 and 8.

    4. Do you have any advice for those approaching this situation for the first time?

    Get good support as soon as you can in a non-specialist subject. My first Geography HoD was useless and gave me poor advice on subject knowledge and pedagogy. Second one was incredibly supportive but I'd been burned by the first one so I became resistant.
    elliejo and Happygopolitely like this.
  5. coxy15

    coxy15 New commenter

    1) Yes I have enjoyed it. Last year I taught English, RE and Maths. This year Geography, PE and Maths. I enjoy the range, and I feel trusted to deliver good quality lessons regardless of them being outside of my specialism (PE). It also gives me plenty of options when I choose to move on, as a PE teacher having experience in a second subject is crucial, and I've got a whole load of that!

    2) I had a choice in accepting the offer of the job, knowing I would have a varied timetable. year to year my mix of subjects change, and I am always asked for my preferences which are catered for 90% of the time, and the rest is just that it won't fit in the school timetable. However, I am considering moving to another school where I will be able to teach PE as my main subject. I'm beginning to feel like the "gap-filler" at the school, which is not a reputation I want.


    4) Be very clear about what you will/won't feel comfortable teaching, don't be afraid to say no to specific subjects. Speak with all departments you work in and access resources from the specialists in the school. You will need to do plenty of reading around topics before teaching them so be prepared for this, although in supportive schools this may be balanced out by being provided with detailed lesson plans, resources and powerpoints to reduce that side of the workload. Early moderation of marking is very useful too to check your understanding of the topics and the criteria for assessing students' work.
    elliejo likes this.

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