How I… have found advantages in the challenges of teaching during lockdown – Rachael Jackson-Royal

Reflecting on teaching and leading RE during the lockdown period has made me realise there have been some challenges, but also some surprising advantages.

We have been teaching all of our classes the normal curriculum predominantly through a combination of audio power points (delivered via google classroom) and live zoom lessons. These have caused some challenges. For example, I had to quickly learn how to use these apps and to find time to write numerous power points and source suitable clips. I have also made many, many mistakes. Such as forgetting to turn the microphone on when I was recording! However, there have been advantages. In particular, creating the audio power points have enabled me to deepen and consolidate my understanding of a unit and how this links to other curriculum areas. As well as introduce some new ideas sparked from my attendance at Strictly RE earlier in the year. In addition, as the students have found these audio power points to be so useful, I plan to write more of these and utilise them to better support flipped learning and to aid those revising for an examination or to catch up due to absence.

Deciding how to teach the year 11 and year 13 has also been a challenge. We made the decision to provide lessons which enable students to make the transition to the A level or a university degree respectively. However, although this was time consuming, as there were no previous materials to draw on, it too has been advantageous and even enjoyable. Firstly, it has enabled me to further my engagement with various academics in order to identify beneficial topics for pupils to explore and to discuss the suitability of materials they already provide (I am lucky in this respect as, due to my role on NATRE, I already work with various scholars). This has led to fruitful, ongoing dialogues, concerning how these materials could be adapted and developed to better support school pupils; something that will be continue to be useful for all in the future I hope. Secondly, this also drew my attention to various free webinars being provided for teachers. Thus, I have been attending, virtually, webinars (which include those given by ResearchED and James Holt/TRS at Chester University) that have enabled me to deepen and reflect on my subject knowledge, pedagogy and teaching practice. Such engagement has already been beneficial as it has led to adaptions being made to the curriculum and in the resources used to support pupil learning; something I hope will also continue over the summer term.

Therefore, although there have been many challenges (not all mentioned here), there have also been benefits both in terms of my own practice and in the experience I have provided for the pupils, as I try to do the best I can to deliver my lessons in this ‘new normal’.

 

Dr R M Jackson-Royal

HoD of Religious Studies and a member of the NATRE executive

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