In this series of blogs, colleagues from across the school will share their experiences of teaching remotely. I’ve asked them to consider the challenges they have faced and to reflect on some of the strategies they have used. The idea is to share some good ideas and provide some reassurance by recognising common struggles. Today I’ll share a contributions from Religious Studies and Business.
Evie Forsey – Religious Studies
I am extremely fortunate in Religious Studies to have a team of innovative and experienced teachers to rely upon, so for us Remote Learning has been a chance to focus on our lesson development and curriculum planning, something we are all hugely passionate about. When we first heard the announcement that schools were preparing to close, we held a cobra meeting of our own and collaboratively decided the strategy for RS remote learning. We wanted pupils to receive a simple and consistent set of instructions, pupils to cope with the RS workload , but we also wanted our lessons to continue to reflect our curriculum vision: “Our lessons will encourage empathy and open-mindedness. Through this, students will go onto become kind and considerate members of society.” Something which has never been more vital. So, from this strategy we decided on some clear rules and expectations of RS lessons. Every lesson was to include:
- ‘How is RS relevant to us today’ – a ‘thought for the day’ slide which shows pupils the impact that this pandemic was having on religious communities around them. We always encourage pupils to think beyond themselves and this was an opportunity to widen their awareness of how the global pandemic impacts other members of society.
- DO now tasks – this was crucial for remaining consistent with our “normal” lessons. We still expect students to retain their knowledge from previous lessons and these short tasks support this.
- An opportunity for extended writing in every lesson. Just because pupils are remote learning, our expectation for extended writing hasn’t changed. Nor has the importance of DIRT, we continue to dedicate lesson time to this, encouraging pupils to look for exam skills and improve their original work. We always provide model answers, and using the video PowerPoint we are still able to model the exam skills and improvement process while pupils watch.
- Video PowerPoint lessons, mirroring how we would normally introduce new subject knowledge, explain tasks and secondary-tier language to pupils in class, but for KS4 videos which could then be converted into interactive ClickView lessons. These videos allow pupils to control the pace of the lesson for themselves, stopping and starting our commentaries while they complete their tasks. We also ensure our lessons have a range of resources available to keep pupils engaged.
- AFL: we developed a simple whole class feedback proforma that all teachers in the department were expected to use and utilised Frog quizzes. Although we aren’t able to give 1:1 feedback, we still wanted pupils to know we valued their effort and have the oppertunity for reflection and improvement.
From this, we also wanted to ensure that the content we created for remote learning was going to have some long-term impact for the department. So, with the help of Sue Busher we have been able to develop an area of remote learning in the RS ClickView library. These lessons are there permanently and we intend to continue to re-use them for revision, homework’s and stretch and challenge tasks when we return to school and embark on the ‘new normal’.
David Domm – Business
Since starting to teach my classes remotely I have found the level of engagement to be really good. Students really seem to appreciate the effort that we are putting in as teachers to continue their education. I have had the majority of my students in lessons and they are willing to engage by using the chat function where they can. This has actually increased engagement for some of the quieter students I have. They are willing to answer questions using the chat function when they would normally be unwilling if we were in a classroom setting. It is very different teaching virtually and I have had to change my style to suit this. I am normally chalk and talk but have had to put together PowerPoints for the students to work off. I have had some feedback from students that they miss the classroom environment and the ability to have informal discussions with their peers about the work that helps them understand concepts.