A fresh sense of purpose

19th May 2006 at 01:00
The chartered teacher programme has reignited one educator's passion for his chosen profession, Su Clark reports

The boy stood motionless before the whiteboard, gazing not at the task in front but at his hands. He held them up as if grasping an imaginary object, obviously deep in thought. His task was to complete the drawing of two faces of a 3D object.

"He was picturing the real object, which he'd held in his hand before and was trying to remember it," says Gerry Deeney, design and technology teacher at Loudoun Academy, East Ayrshire, talking to delegates at the CPD coordinators conference in Edinburgh.

"It was exciting for me to watch how different children remember and learn.

I now understand more about multiple intelligences, and that some pupils respond well to visual aids," he says.

In his third year of a chartered teacher programme, it wasn't the first thrill Mr Deeney had experienced recently. He is convinced the course has given him a deeper understanding of his craft, through the extensive reading and research demanded, and also from being more aware of the dynamics of the classroom.

One of the most useful aspects of the course was the reflective diary. "If an incident made me think, I'd note it in my diary. This encouraged me to reflect on the action I had taken and what I could have done," he says.

"After 22 years teaching, I'm now doing new things in school."

Mr Deeney's enthusiasm shines through as he holds his own hands up to demonstrate what his pupil was doing. He is delighted that an analysis he has done across four classes, comparing them to last year, suggests the pupils' results are improving.

It was only after a temporary post as a senior teacher came to an end and the changes to staffing structures were implemented following the national teachers' agreement that Mr Deeney decided to embark on chartered teacher status. With less responsibility in school, he had the time to develop his own teaching so he chose to take the modular route to chartered teacher status.

"Accreditation would mean as much work but over a shorter period, and I thought working full time and with a young family it would be better to go for the less intensive route," he says.

He also opted for the online approach with Paisley University, as he needed flexibility.

"It meant I didn't have to leave the house on a dark winter's night, but it is still a demanding programme. Each module takes in excess of 150 hours, and often I'd find myself working into the small hours. You have to make sacrifices with something like this and I have found it is often sleep."

But it has also made him more confident, making him look for ways to refresh his practice. It has even led to changes within his department. One project involved setting up a revision website with interactive tips on his subject. Another innovation was to set up lectures for more than one class at a time, with a PowerPoint display.

The novelty of the lecture and the lively large-screen presentation kept the children engaged.

"The course has also made me think about varying my own presentation; using different facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, how I engage with the pupils," he explains. "I've also tried to make classes more fun."

He introduced an element of competition into orthographic drawing. Pupils had to go to the front of the class and complete a drawing of a 3D object, and then the class would vote if it was correct or not.

"It was like my Eureka moment," he says. "But I also became conscious that not all pupils enjoyed being put on the spot like that. That realisation helped me be more sensitive."

As he comes to the end of the programme, Mr Deeney's ambitions have grown alongside his confidence in his teaching.

"It has enhanced my sense of purpose and direction," he adds. "I feel my options are wide open."


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