6th January 2014: Teacher Training Day at MMHS
The new Head (former Deputy) happily recognizes the centrality of BtL to the learning ethos of the school. He allocated a whole day’s in-service training to making the eighty odd staff of the school aware of the remarkable success of the course in the English Department in 2012-13. Hopefully, they would begin to explore how BtL could help them in the teaching of their own subjects. This was the aim of the team entrusted with the task of implementing the course throughout the school. I was delighted that they invited me to join them in the planning and execution of the day. They took up my suggestion that the teachers experience the teaching methods of BtL – that is, by working in pairs through pre-packaged materials. However, instead of working through BtL itself, they would work through the first two sections of the Language of Ideas, the interactive computer programme which teaches the major insights of BtL to adult learners.
The Language of Ideas has been used successfully, especially by Access courses, as BCU’s Widening Participation programme, but it has not been used (as far as I know) for teacher-training. I was relieved to find that it was perfect for the purpose. The staff were sent off to the three computer rooms in this wonderfully equipped 21st century school and worked happily through the two sections, concrete/abstract in the morning and general/particular in the afternoon. After each session (with suitable breaks) they returned to the hall and sat at tables in faculties to discuss what they had learned and how they could apply some of the insights in their own teaching. They wrote up their ideas on sugar paper and then spent the last ten minutes of each session walking round and noting the ideas of the other faculties.
The BtL team took photoes of the sugar papers and these ideas will form the starting-point of the work they plan to develop throughout the school during the current year.
One way in which I hope to contribute to the development of learning in the school is to continue the work I have begun with some Faculties in becoming aware of the structure of knowledge in their subjects through the linguistic analysis of GCSE papers.