Primary RE trainees were asked to consider what characteristics a person who is ‘religiously educated’ would have. Would they be spiritual, practising a religion, respectful of others, have intra-personal intelligence or something else? Trainees worked in groups to create a visual metaphor out of plasticine and presented their ideas to the class. This type of activity could be used with young children as it helps communicate their thoughts in a more personal and creative way – so much more interesting than worksheets, writing and colouring in don’t you think?! 😉
School based partnerships are at the core of what we do in the RE ITT team and we are always looking for ways to develop and enrich trainee experience. As a national priority behaviour for learning is right at the fore of the DfE’s agenda for ITT, but as everyone who has been a trainee or a new teacher knows getting those relationships right in the classroom can be a big concern. This year we were warmly welcomed not only by our outstanding Stretford High school colleagues, Layla, Faisal and Mez, but the most important people of all- the pupils!
We visited Stretford High school on 11th November and received some characteristically effective training and development on how the school’s successful systems work. In the first session Layla showed how restorative justice and a really coherent pastoral house system work to support everyone achieve the best outcomes.
There’s nothing like hearing what the pupils have to say about what they think makes a good teacher and that’s exactly what we got in the second session. Mez and Faisal (Head of Humanities) took us over to the Humanities are where year 9 pupils worked with RE trainees on the question, ‘What makes a good teacher?’ Trainees and pupils created some great posters and talked together about what really works. We were all unanimous that we wanted creative, fun classrooms but a disciplined and safe space to learn and teach in.
Here are a few examples of what trainees thought:
Dani said, “I think restorative justice is a great idea and I have used it in my own lessons to great effect. I find verbal praise works just as well and rewarding pupils with the chance to write on the interactive whiteboard seems to be a great incentive at getting pupils to behave within the classroom.”
Abbi said, “I enjoyed our trip to Stretford. I particularly liked the progressive C system that was in place and having it in the classroom is a great idea so that the pupils can visualise what ‘stage’ they are at and what the consequences will be.”
Jenni said, “I also enjoyed the trip to Stretford High, I thought the input from the students was very interesting and it was great to hear their opinions on what makes a good teacher!”
Jenny said, “I thought it was really interesting to see how another school tackles behaviour, and to see a system that allows restorative justice to have a huge impact on how children are managed.”
It was great to hear pupils views on the training too. They are clearly very reflective young people and it’s positive to get feedback from Junaid, an aspirational teacher,
“When we were working with the trainee teachers, I felt quite nervous at the beginning however, later on I became more confident and I was the one doing most of the talking”- Wafa
“I felt it was great experience for me, because if I decide to become a teacher, I can dwell upon this meeting with trainee teachers” – Junaid
“I enjoyed working with the trainee teachers as it has been a wonderful experience to express my ideas regarding what makes a good lesson/teacher. The trainee teachers were wonderful to work with as I have learnt a lot from this experience. I felt engaged and proud to work with them as a group and I hope them success for the future”-Kaoutar
Just prior to the Christmas Holidays, the Second Year, RE undergraduates visited the National Holocaust Centre near Newark on Trent in Nottinghamshire. This was a first visit for Edge Hill University but proved to be well worth the journey.
Our visit began with an introductory talk and a tour of the ground floor which was set out like a traditional museum with artefacts and factual information.
However for me personally, the afternoon was the highlight of the day. Firstly we were very privileged to meet Janine Webber who shared her experiences of growing up as a Polish Jew after the German army occupied her native Lwow in 1941. Janine now aged 81 shared her truly harrowing story of how her Parents, Grandmother and younger brother were murdered by the Nazis. How she was betrayed by people who had promised to care for her and how she lived in a hole without seeing daylight for a year.
If anyone had any right to be angry or bitter it was Janine but she was an incredibly, spirited, warm and forgiving person who seemed to bear no hatred or malice towards those who had caused her such pain. She said her only feeling was one of sadness.
The second part of the afternoon was spent in part of the centre that had been set up to follow the experiences of Leo, a fictional German-Jewish boy living in Berlin during Nazi rule. The Journey is the first exhibition to be built in the UK, solely for the teaching of the Holocaust to primary-aged children. Leo’s story unfolds in a series of rooms, which not only detail Leo’s experience but also that of children who lived during the Holocaust and survived.
Although designed for Primary school children we all found it a moving and inspirational experience.
The Holocaust Centre is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the Nottinghamshire countryside that allows visitors to reflect sensitively on the Holocaust. I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to anyone who is engaged in teaching or learning about the Holocaust.
To find out more visit the Holocaust Centre website