How I…use social media to support teachers – Sarah Payne
05 November, 2019
I love my job, but boy can it can be a lonely place as a teacher of Religious Studies. Often in a one-person department, the smallest budget in the school, parents who are anti-RE, lack of understanding from the SLT, and the constant “Why are we learning this? I’m not religious!” comments from many students.
When I heard that NATRE were looking for Regional Ambassadors, I immediately thought of my colleagues who may feel exhausted or despondent for the reasons I’ve just mentioned, and felt that I wanted to support them if I could. I wanted to be a part of helping those teachers find like-minded RE teachers and be part of a local network of support, resource- sharing and friendship. I was absolutely thrilled when I got the job.
I began my journey as a Regional Ambassador in February ’19 and I’ve enjoyed my role so far. I’ve been to some amazing local groups, where teachers have given up their time because they know there is power and safety in numbers. These RE teachers and advisers have a passion for RE teaching and learning and have a desire to share their experience and wisdom with others. I’ve loved seeing the joy on a teacher’s face as they’ve heard from others that their own experience is not isolated, or when they’ve learned something new that they’ll be able to impart in their own schools. I’ve met with leaders and potential leaders who are willing to take a risk and lead a group because they know there is a need in their local area.
I’ve also attended SACRE meetings to talk about RE, and also a wonderful Youth SACRE. It’s amazing to know that young people have a desire to learn about other faiths and worldviews, despite what the media and SLTs might tell you is the value of RE.
One of the ways I’ve been able to reach RE teachers is through Social Media. I’ve set up a group for my region, South Central, on Facebook. It’s called ‘RE Teachers in South Central’ if you’d like to join! I post encouraging documents, websites for CPD and resource links to help my colleagues in the region. Other teachers and RE professionals can also post ideas and resources, or share their experiences. I use it as a platform to point people to local RE groups as the main reason for my role is to encourage teachers to be part of a network. It is important to me that no one is mocked or left out because of their subject knowledge or experience, no matter their question or concern. I also use Twitter to signpost people to the local groups in their area, relevant research and to share resources and links to help them on their teaching journey. You can follow me on @SPayneRE.
There are lots of ways that Social Media can help teachers, from being able to share their problems and issues, to sharing resources, tips and experiences which can support others’ lessons. Collaboration is so vital in our subject. You can find that you are not alone or isolated at all.
To see who your Regional Ambassador is visit https://www.natre.org.uk/about-natre/re-in-your-region/re-ambassadors/