Former pupil Leeds West Academy pupil and trainee teacher, Jordan Holdsworth, shares his thoughts on subject knowledge in lessons in his second reflection blog. He writes:
My focus for today was specifically on subject knowledge, but I found that I was also observing a range of behavioural techniques and the way which teachers respond to the attitudes of students (on a Monday morning). After observing a few lessons, I was able to browse the schemes of work for each year group. On the whole, I understood the learning objectives and exam board specifications from my tutoring outside of the SOE, but found I had no experience with the requirements for subject schemes of learning.
Schemes of Learning are provided for each lesson within the English department, as well as lesson materials such as presentations and handouts; this was reassuring from a trainee’s point of view since I was concerned with the amount of time it would take to plan lessons, having seen other trainees spending time producing material and becoming stressed the night before a lesson. These schemes were useful in that they provided guidance for constructing learning objectives (e.g. all LO’s must contain ‘so that’ to define consequences) and were structured in a manner which made information – like class details and resources needed for each lesson - easily locatable. I do recognise, however, that my future placement school may not be as organised as Leeds West Academy when it comes to providing resources.
For GCSE students, the SOL consisted of lessons that address each of the questions in the exam – more lessons were assigned to questions that had a higher number of marks and required more analysis/time in the exam. A new text was introduced either every week, or every fortnight, and this seemed to provide a suitable amount of time to understand each text while keeping the studied material fresh.
The PowerPoint presentations for all year groups were also consistent in their layout. A ‘connect’ activity allows students to start working as soon as they come into class, followed by classroom expectations and learning objectives. For the rest of the lesson, slides providing ‘new information,’ ‘challenges,’ ‘demonstrations’ and ‘review and reflection’ give students clear and concise information to guide them through the hour. Each slide also contained ‘support’ and ‘stretch’ boxes, to give students additional tasks in case they progress faster than their peers. This uniformity across the English department’s materials means that expectations can be maintained across teachers and students are able to challenge themselves at various points when they feel that they are progressing well.
As an observer, I was allowed to watch 3 separate lessons today with varying abilities. The abilities of all three classes had been considerably lower than those I observed on my first day, but I thought these were interesting classes to have been a part of and thankful for the experience.