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Getting ready to teach: top tips for September

Kelly Johnson Kelly Johnson Curriculum Officer at NCFE

5 July 2021

We know that you and your colleagues are working extremely hard to overcome the extraordinary circumstances that we find ourselves in. Although the 2020-21 session is coming to an end and many of you have now submitted your Teacher Assessed Grades, we understand that you’re busy with preparations for the next academic year.

After the ups and downs of the past year, you’re probably in survival mode right now and we want to help make these preparations a little easier.

Kelly Johnson, Curriculum Officer at NCFE, has put together the following top tips to support you and your colleagues with getting ready to teach next session.

1. Reflect on the previous year and ensure your future curriculum meets the needs of learners

Before we get into gear for September, it’s important to spend some time reflecting on the previous ten months and the things you’ve experienced in that time. What went well and what didn’t go so well? What successes and triumphs should be celebrated? Reflection is an essential part of planning, as there are always lessons to be learnt (even by the ones usually teaching the lessons)!

Now is the best time to think about your curriculum and what learners will gain from this in the coming year. Have you incorporated vocational subjects that add value to your current timetable? By offering an ambitious curriculum that meets the needs of every learner, not only improves outcomes, but also helps your school to meet Ofsted requirements on the quality of education.

2. Make use of free technology to support your teaching

We’ve all had to adapt to using technology in new ways since schools initially closed in spring 2020, so many of you will have experimented with various tools. We wanted to share some of our favourites with you, and we would love to hear yours in the comments below.

  • com is an interactive and online presentation software programme, which allows questions to be submitted, quizzes to be taken and word clouds to be created. For learners studying Health and Fitness, you could create revision quizzes using this tool.
  • A Google Chrome extension, InsertLearning.com, allows you to insert content onto any webpage and share this with your learners. You can highlight text, add questions, discussion boxes, notes or more. For example, for Art and Design, you can add boxes under certain pictures for discussion about colour, form, space and texture within a picture.
  • You can use the online bulletin board, Padlet.com, to create different layouts to display information, including images, videos and links. For example, in an Engineering class, you could add links to videos or websites for learners to visit for revision and homework, then encourage learners to discuss on Padlet.com.
  • Finally, with screen capture and recording technology becoming more relevant than ever during the pandemic, we would recommend using VidYard to record your screen. You can capture a voiceover and there’s no recording length limit. As a homework exercise for Business and Enterprise, learners could record their presentation on a company or a video on how to use Microsoft Excel for making graphs.
3. Adopt teaching strategies that get the best out of your learners, helping them to develop a growth mindset

As you may be aware, a lot of educational research shows that peer collaboration, metacognition or thinking about your learning, and feedback have the strongest impact on learner achievement. But for these to be effective, your learners need to have a growth mindset.

Learners who have a fixed mindset believe that intelligence or ability is fixed and won’t change whereas growth mindset learners are the opposite. Because of this, those with fixed mindsets will avoid challenges as they can’t do them whereas growth learners will embrace them.

One way you can help develop and encourage a growth mindset is in the language you use, which we have outlined in the table below.

Fixed mindset

Growth mindset

“Not everyone is good at maths, just try your best.”

“When you learn how to do a new kind of problem, it grows your maths brain.”

“That’s okay, maybe maths is not one of your strengths.”

“If you catch yourself saying ‘I’m not a maths person’, add the word ‘yet’ to the end of the sentence.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll get it if you keep trying.” *

“That feeling of maths being hard is the feeling of your brain growing.”

“Great effort, you tried your best!” **

“The point isn’t to get it all right away, the point is to grow your understanding step-by-step. What can you try next?”

*If learners are using the wrong strategies, their efforts might not work, and they may feel inept.

**Don’t accept less than optimal performance from your learners.

To find out more about online teaching tools and applications, book on to our webinar on 7 July. We’ll also be running a webinar on teaching strategies and more tips on preparing to teach in 2021-22, and we’ll share the booking details with you soon.

For more information on our V Cert Technical Awards which offer added value and support to your curriculum and have been designed to fit seamlessly into your timetable alongside core subjects, visit our website.

Kelly Johnson one of our Curriculum Officers at NCFE, working in the Provider Development Team. Key parts of Kelly’s role are to support schools, colleges and training providers to ensure learners get the best outcomes and to inspire teachers to plan and deliver outstanding learning experiences for the V Cert qualifications. Her background is in vocational education, with 15 years of experience working in various roles in the Further Education sector.