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Letters to a New History Teacher: Xmas Special

Well this week the wonderful elves – aka history teachers – have been busy making gifts to NQTs, those new to teaching or those returning to teaching like me (and you). Each gift is in the form a tweet-tip… Here’s a round up for your delectation!

Above all, the elves advise you to walk, not run, in your history teaching career… And to complete that marathon with help:


The past is vast. You can’t be an expert on it all. Don’t be afraid to seek advice on teaching some topics.


Further to that [@MrsHall_History, above] I’d say the best CPD I’ve ever had is joining Twitter. Get online and build a PLN! …and include teachers outside your subject. Lots of great ideas can be borrowed and adapted. Magpie!


No point reinventing the wheel.


Tip: Find like minded soul(s) to work collaboratively with before/during the NQT year. Professional networks last a lifetime!

But the elves gift you a word of warning…


Constantly steal the best ingredients for cooking up fab lessons but realise if you use ’em all at once u might ruin your dinner

The elves also suggest you might try to keep your own knowledge current:


Maintain a good knowledge of current affairs (esp. teen pop culture) because some students benefit from analogies.


Look for opportunities to develop their curiosity outside of the classroom… ‘Today in History’, ‘history in the news’.

And lots of elves want you to remember to enjoy the STORY in hiSTORY:


Read history. Variety of periods and medium (fiction, blog, graphic novel, non fiction). The more the merrier…BUT only for pleasure. If it becomes a chore stop.


My tip; keep reading History. Teaching forever stretches historical knowledge, embrace it (it’s more fun than marking!)


Give a History NQT a great second hand historical novel for Christmas; deserve time off

Some elves want you to help children to evaluate sources as evidence. They are never just facsimiles of the past:


Get stuck into the problem of exploring “bias” (maybe with a football analogy) and teach the kids how to spell “biased” properly!


Teach usefulness by focusing on perspectives; every view has a viewPOINT

And one particularly playful elf suggests using games to develop conceptual understanding:


Try and then debate why game doesn’t do historical significance justice

A canny elf advises combining CPD with a money-making scheme:


My new history teacher top tip: consider marking for an exam board this summer: it’s great inset (and a good summer bonus!)

Finally, a kindly and incredibly wise elf gives some advice that every one would do well to remember:


You will plateau, you will go backward, but whatever you do, always reflect by looking forward.

And as for me? Well, I wish you all a wonderful, warm, happy and peaceful Christmas. Remember to take a proper break, and to refuel with dear friends, family and lashings of fun.

Esther (and Sam)