Author on TES: RE guru, Todd Beamish
TES Author Todd Beamish, teacher of religious education, reveals how he makes his content engaging, which are his favourite resources and how to deal with sensitive topics
Tell us about your professional background and why you joined TES?
I’m in my fourth year of teaching and have worked in both comprehensive and grammar schools. I have always had a real passion for teaching and learning, and get a lot out of sharing practice with trainees, NQTs and other teachers.
As I have benefitted over the years from downloading TES resources, I thought it only fair to start publishing some of the resources that I have made.
How do you make your resources engaging, relevant and academically rigorous?
I spend a lot of time thinking about the content and what the hook is to engage my students. Variety is essential, especially in schemes of work, so I use different approaches ranging from class discussions to games that are going to further students’ thinking. I also try to incorporate ways to develop pupils’ critical thinking skills, especially at KS3 where these skills are often lacking.
Which is your favourite resource and why?
I have two favourites! My display pack receives very positive feedback from teachers, with some even sending me photos of the displays in their own classrooms. It was a joy to make and I think people really appreciate the time and effort that has gone into making it interesting, engaging and attractive.
The other is a scheme of work about personhood, which uses a variety of flexible activities to make challenging ideas accessible for KS3 students. I always enjoy having big idea discussions with my students using this resource, and I hope other teachers will too.
How do you deal with sensitive topics covered in religious education?
Look at creating a safe environment first before you decide which activities to use in your classroom. We shouldn’t shy away from important questions which need answers, even if the route to get there involves challenging discussions. It’s about being simultaneously truthful and sensitive. I believe that even the most complex philosophical ideas, issues of personhood or epistemology can be grasped by all students as long as you prepare the content in the right way.
One of the most sensitive topics to teach is the Holocaust. When creating resources, I thought hard about how to discuss the Holocaust in a way that’s understandable, personal and relevant to students. By humanising it, you can help your class to try to understand something so awful.
What resources are coming up?
Following on from positive reviews, I am working on more schemes of work at the moment. I am really glad that teachers are benefitting from my resources as it takes time, a lot of re-working and input from my students to create the finished product.
I am passionate about the teaching of philosophy at KS2, so I’m also working with a primary school to put together some resources that can deal with challenging questions while being pitched at an appropriate level. Watch this space!
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