Welcome to the April noticeboard! We are so pleased to be attencing the annual Geogrpahical Association conference this year! With both an exhibition stand and a workshop to attend - we can hopefully spread our message and values further to support more of you! We will be using the hashtags #ECGeogNetwork and #gaconf21 throughout the conference (April 08-10).
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Official april newsletter
Another world is possible.
Paul gives his thoughts on the future of Geography teaching and the topics we must teach.
Hello - I’m Paul, I’ve been a geography teacher for more than 10 years and for the last 5 led a department in a school with quite a few differences. Students take GCSEs in only 3 core subjects whilst completing the schools own qualification in other subjects such as Geography. Increasingly schools across the UK are following this approach with schools like School 21 and the XP Schools being part of progressive alliances such as Big Education and Rethinking Assessment. Covid 19 has shone a light on the fragility of terminal examination and the current system, it’s important teachers realise there is an alternative.
It’s also so important for early career geography teachers to grow into themselves and feel confident in who they are as an individual. Don’t get railroaded by your mentors or forced to teach in a way that doesn’t feel comfortable to you. Embrace your personality, your experiences and what makes you you, by doing this your passion and enthusiasm will come through and you’ll be the best teacher you can be. When planning schemes of work or considering examples to include in lessons think of places you’ve visited or places you have a connection to, use photos you’ve taken whilst travelling or stories from when you visited somewhere.
Whilst teaching at a variety of schools I increasingly realised my enthusiasm was for challenging the status quo and wanting to expose inequality and unjust circumstances. Whilst at one school I organised a geography conference for students called “Can geography help us avert catastrophe?” We invited 100’s of students from across the south and hosted inspiring speakers to explore geography’s role in creating a better world. I then worked with the Equality Trust to train sixth form students to be Equality Ambassadors. So much is possible when you look beyond the classroom to create learning experiences.
Over a number of years I found that I increasingly enjoyed the creative process of developing teaching resources and lesson activities. This process often started when reading inspiring books or watching a powerful documentary. A good example is the Climate Breakdown teaching materials which have been downloaded more than 7000 times across the world. Google drive has helped facilitate the crowd sourcing of learning resources as well as sharing them with a global audience.
My most recent project is “Who owns England?” based around Guy Shrubshole’s book by the same name and “Trespass” by Nick Hayes. Both books I would highly recommend for any teacher or enthusiastic student. The teaching resources follow the principles of radical geography using enquiry to investigate inequality and unfair situations. Land ownership is a little considered topic in schools but fundamentally underpins representation in the house of commons and house of lords, our freedoms of access and ultimately how land is managed. By exposing students to hidden and secretive data, and encouraging them to explore boundaries and land ownership around their local area, students can better understand the world around them.
We live in a climate and ecological crisis. The opening lines from Dr Emily Grossman’s “Emergency on Planet Earth” are some of my favourite - “The science is clear, we face an unprecedented global emergency, we must act now.” As an educator I like to tweak this to say “We must teach for the anthropocene”, it’s our responsibility to be bold and communicate the urgency around responding to the age of humans. Education must respond.
This month we launch the Radical School Geography manifesto and bring people together in a democratic and collaborative process to create the future of school geography. Last year a group of teachers came together to publish the Radical Geographers’ Handbook which was a provocation to teachers to reflect on their practice and consider how they might teach in a purposefully anti racist, anti sexist and more balanced way. Some awesome geographers came forward and produced videos about why they considered themselves as radical geographers. The Radical School Geography manifesto is an evolution of this, looking to provide a developed vision of the future of school geography.
Teachers are the largest profession globally, we need to embrace the possibility of teaching to create a new and better world for all.
tOP 5 BOOKS:
Trespass - Nick Hayes
Too hot to Handle - Rebecca Willis
Losing Eden - Lucy Jones
From What Is to What If - Rob Hopkins
There is no Planet B - Mike Berners Lee
I am very passionate about supporting ITTs/NQTS hence creating the network. For me, schools are unique and finding the right one for you is as challenging as finding a partner. What will be the perfect school for one person wont necessarily be perfect for another. Therefore, before you do anything, think about YOU.
What makes you happy? What are your non negotiable? Use your observation experience to help with this. What type of culture do you want? Rural and small? Urban and big? State? Private? Really be very clear about it. Then when you research schools as they come up you will be able to narrow the field much quicker.
I was extremely specific about what I wanted and when it came up I immediately applied. It was my second application and I got the job. I also felt very weirdly calm on the day. For me, because I was interviewing the school as much as they were interviewing me, I did not feel any pressure. It must be the right fit for you - remember they are being interviewed as well. Never be afraid to leave during the day if it isn't the right fit. I am happy to look at anyone's application. I will also be talking a bit about this at my GA conference workshop on the 10th April.
Some advice from myself is that networking is so so important I was in the process of applying for jobs but received a phone all from a school I didn’t even know had a job after another trainee I had met on a different course told the assistant headteacher I was a geography trainee and sent her my details (including Twitter) I went into the school and interviewed 2 days later and I’m still there now! Even people you think won’t have anything to do with your job can in fact be a step in!
I actually got a job at the first school I applied to! But my advice is definitely to yourself and put across why you want to be a teacher. I was up against others who had more experience than me and that made me think I wouldn’t get the job, but I relaxed more at the interview because of that and I think that helped.
Lauren Cooper-Jones @MissCJGeog
"I applied to 2 schools in my training year and interviewed for both before making my final decision. Both schools were very different but the essential elements of my interview preparation were the same: be myself, represent the ethos of the schools and show a vested interest in students futures! At one school, I was interviewing with people more experienced and need I say with much more life experiences than me as well, but my awareness of this did not deter me. My emphasis on rapport with students was noted in both of my interview lessons and this is a value that I still hold strong today. My advice to any trainees, is be yourself in your interview, and have a feel for your core values in your teaching as you enter your interview lessons."