In the autumn term the fourth cohort of teachers will embark on their SSAT Leadership Legacy journey. This article shares the vision developed during the year by two Leadership Legacy Fellows from cohort 3 and gives an insight into the difference their think piece projects have made to their practice and the next steps they are planning.
Describe your educational vision and principles and how they link to your Think Piece.
Emma Hopkins, Corby Technical School
My vision for education is constantly being shaped by my educational research and experiences. I truly believe the most powerful part of education is as a powerful tool against social inequality in society. Education has a critical role to play to provide all students with vital knowledge to be able to integrate and flourish in society as active citizen. Education provides the foundation for all students to live fulfilling and successful lives. At the heart of this is to ensure as a profession we engage with research and debate knowledge to constantly reflect whether we are succeeding at our main aim of achieving social equality. During my think piece research, it became apparent that education can be so varied for so many children depending on their location and expertise of their teacher. It is our role as educators to seek challenge about the content of our curriculum and ways in which we can enhance student’s ability to learn to give them the best opportunities. I now have a stronger feeling at the centre of this is teaching and learning and how we ensure all our professionals become expert in their area of expertise.
Houmayra Joonus, formally Capital City Academy
Teach, Inspire, Motivate, Love, Believe
Ever since I thought of becoming a teacher, these terms have been the founding principles of my teaching philosophy. My goal is to teach and support all my pupils, no matter their differences. I have always valued the importance of working and supporting pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. I strongly believe that education is an important source of support that could inspire them to make a significant difference to their own future, and potentially that of their family. Our disadvantage pupils deserve quality education and support from us teachers who will allow them to believe in their dreams. Through our engaging and stimulating lessons, our duty is to motivate them to flourish in their learning and equip them with the right skills for the future. In addition to that, we can only motivate and inspire our pupils once they feel loved by their teachers. Building positive relationships with our classes is therefore an essential tool. In turn, that genuinely proves to our pupils that we believe in each one of them to reach their potential.
Hence, after attending the SSAT Conference in December about Fighting for Deep Social Justice, I was inspired to make deep social justice at the heart of my teaching and empower our department’s teaching practice to support our most vulnerable students in their learning.
What was your project about and what difference has it made?
My project aimed to improve students’ knowledge and retention to ensure they could more easily access the higher order thinking skills. It aimed to improve the outcomes of those taking GCSE History and Geography and equip teachers with the knowledge of memory techniques to aid more effective strategies in History and Geography.
Covid-19 made it hard to measure the impact of the project however the project took a different direction and we were able to team our knowledge of retrieval practice with technology to support online learning. The project has had several positive indirect consequences for teaching and learning in the department. As a department we have all become far more engaged with educational research which has become a regular feature in our department meetings. Secondly, it has highlighted the need to go back and review our curriculum offer based around a knowledge rich approach to the curriculum. It has also inspired other colleagues to trial retrieval practice activities so that we can improve our resource bank. I am really pleased with how the project has substantially improved areas of my department. I know it also needs to go through some refinement.
My project focused on the question, “How can we support social justice through the effective use of Assessment for Learning (AfL) strategies in MFL lessons?”
As a department we have developed more consistent and effective AfL activities throughout our MFL classes, which has had a very positive impact on our teaching and learning. The CPD and Sharing Good Practice sessions have enabled us to discuss and reflect as a team on our practice, which therefore supported us in improving our formative assessment strategies and maximize our students’ progress. Consistency of practice has helped students and classes we have focused on become more engaged with their learning.
How will you build on what you have done during the project?
This is only the start and I know my project needs to go through a stage of refinement and build on successes. I want to ensure in September we revisit the educational research behind the science of memory and apply it to the new situation we find ourselves in. Working with others in the department I would like to use technology to expand the way we set homework and embed core knowledge as part of independent quizzing outside of the lesson and also work on the theory of cognitive overload and methods such as dual coding to help students progress in their learning.
As I am leaving my current school to move back home, I will not be able to follow through with my department on the fruitful work we have done on Assessment for Learning this year. However, before leaving, I intend to work with my Head of Department and our new Teaching Lead to discuss the positive results this impact report has had on our pupils and our department, and plan together how they could continue to consistently implement these powerful strategies and build on to it so that our students continue to thrive in their learning.
I also plan to embark on a new project about deep social justice in education in my home country, Mauritius, where regional poverty has a strong impact on the attainment and achievements of pupils. I intend to get in touch with local schools and work together to build a structured teaching and learning programme which would focus on giving equitable chances and more opportunities to children from deprived backgrounds.
I strongly feel that the SSAT Leadership Legacy project gave me a solid foundation, for me to be effective in implementing concepts of deep social justice in education.
SSAT’s Leadership Legacy Project is a unique member opportunity to develop a recently qualified teacher with leadership potential, supporting their leadership development while shaping their vision and principles.