What's the point of the four Survive and Thrive units?
There are today many teacher-training routes into the teaching profession. The teacher-training year is always a difficult balancing act between gaining enough classroom experience and enough understanding of the theories that underpin the discipline's key skills. As a result, each teacher-training route has advantages as well as disadvantages. With a lack of uniformity of experience amongst trainees during their training year, the first part of this E-CPD is to help trainee teachers to ‘survive' this challenging year. As a result, it provides trainees with the basic principles of what makes a History teacher? What are the key components of the subject we teach? How can we reflect on our practice in order to improve?
The 'Survive' units asks us to question some fundamental axioms of the how History is taught today. For example, why do we teach and what do we learn in History? What is progression in History? What are we really assessing in our use of assessment? How can we make intelligent use of assessment systems which we are expected to use? Is there any point to marking? There are no quick-hit answers to be found in such questioning, but these chapters are designed to help you reflect on these big issues while you are in your training year and immersed in the teaching environment anew.
No matter how good your training was, starting as an NQT is a significant step up in your teaching career. You will still be wrestling with the big ideas about history teaching which you explored in your training year. You will also have the all too real, day-to-day pressures of a (nearly) full timetable, possibly a form group and a school of hundreds of strange children and staff to get to know. The activities suggested in the ‘thrive' section will help you to learn from your experiences during this baptism of fire, helping you to move on from merely surviving in History teaching to - ultimately! - thriving.
To avoid repetition of the material across the four units, those looking to use the later ‘thrive' section may also find material in the ‘survive' section of great use. Why? Firstly, it is always good to refresh the key concepts and types of debate that shape how we teach History. Secondly, as each of the training routes into History teaching is different - just as experiences on any one route are also likely to markedly differ between institutions and placements - the majority of NQTs will learn something new in the ‘survive' section. The material in the ‘Resources' section is intended to be of use to both trainee-teachers and NQTs.
Where advice and guidance is offered, nothing is meant to be definitive or exhaustive, but we hope it offers you food for thought about issues central to our role as History teachers, while at the same time offering genuinely helpful practical advice rather than merely reciting generic platitudes. Crucially, the ideas should provide stimulus for your own reflections, either as a framework for developing your own ideas, or as something to challenge, critique and reject. Different teachers will take different paths, so the order you choose to approach the units in this guide is up to you; you will also hopefully find it a useful reference tool beyond your NQT year.