Alex Ford Profile picture
Sep 8, 2022 19 tweets 9 min read Read on X
A new year means 100s of history PGCE / ECT teachers starting prof. journeys.

Our current (& future) ITE system, means many get very limited subject specific input.

This year I’m using a @1972SHP lens to explore the core things I wish every new history teacher knew. 🧵/1
Before we get there I want to begin by thinking about how we learn as professionals, and new professionals especially. It really helps to ensure we are open to growth and less likely to run into potential barriers /2
The first thing to recognise is that professional teaching is a constant process of growth. The teacher we start out as will be substantially different to the one we develop into. Just like Ibn Battuta’s odyssey , it’s a long term journey where we need a curious & open mind /3 Image
Second, we need to think about how that change will happen. Learning to teach, or learning anything, is not a simple process of input and change. We learn in social environments and the interactions between these shape our learning (and rejection) of new ideas and approaches /4 Image
This is why active engagement in subject communities like @1972SHP @histassoc @BeBoldHistory matters so much. We define and refine our beliefs in community with others. It’s also why having open and diverse communities is so vital (a topic for another day) /4a ImageImage
We all come to history teaching with ideas and beliefs about what teaching is and is for. These beliefs interact with external inputs from reading, mentors, colleagues, as well as out experiences in the classroom. The interplay of these shapes both beliefs and action. /5 Image
The danger is we don’t use all of the domains open to us when growing professionally. Humans are really good at holding onto beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. Moving on means being open to challenge beliefs and engaging in and connecting multiple domains of learning. /6
Here’s a fun exercise to see what happens when we don’t learn through the interplay of the domains:

What do you think makes an excellent #historyteacher? Use the template here and jot down ideas. Put qualities inside and knowledge / skills outside. /7 Image
Now chat to someone else about their view of the ideal history teacher. Then go back and amend yours.

What happens? You may add things you forgot but you’re very unlikely to change your views based on this conversation. You’ll probably nod and agree and internally reject. /8 Image
Beliefs about what makes a great history teacher change through repeated, overlapping encounters with knowledge, people, children, and observed results. A shift like in the example here could not be “delivered” as a single encounter. It had to be learnt over time & in community. ImageImage
Look at these expanded examples of professional growth. You can often see how “taught” knowledge is not embedded without those repeated encounters via literature, discussion, observation, and practise. These allow the unpicking and amending of existing beliefs /10 ImageImageImageImage
OK time for another exercise. New professionals occupy a liminal space. They find themselves being pulled by different sources of authority - often conflicting sources. Navigating this can be extremely tough. That’s where Legitimation Code Theory @LCTCentre can help. /11 Image
This LCT knowledge-knower plane helps to locate your own ideas and beliefs about teaching. The vertical axis is the importance of specific knowledge; the horizontal axis the importance of particular knower characteristics. /12 Image
Go back to your ideal history teacher from before. Where would it sit on this plane?

Now compare this to the view given in the Teachers’ Standards. Most people will see a clash almost straight away.

Other teachers, mentors etc will all sit in their own place on the plane /13 Image
There’s a famous scene in “All Quiet on the Western Front” where the corporal has the men crawling under tables to pretend they are changing trains in Löhne. Learning to teach can feel this was too if we don’t understand why things are being done /14
If we can’t work out why someone is offering particular advice, we tend to reject it without thought. Understanding where someone sits on the plane can help make sense of their advice and it’s purposes. It allows us to contextualise advice in relation to our own beliefs /14 Image
And of course, as we grow professionally, our beliefs about teaching, and we often shift around on the plane too. My place on that plane has definitely moved and shifted over the years, though in other ways it is still anchored by purposes (more in my next thread) /15 Image
So what are my takeaways about a @1972SHP approach to learning to be a history teacher? Glad you asked:

1) Seek to be self aware and open to challenging your beliefs
2) Seek to understand advice and guidance on its own terms
3) Accept change is gradual
A new thread coming soon as we start to grapple with what it means to be a history teacher and how this looks in the SHP tradition. For now, thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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More from @apf102

Dec 11, 2023
So after a full year of messing about @educationgovuk have decided to release more guidance on what an ITAP actually is. Always good to have more guidance when we are already interviewing for these courses! So what jumps out? /1
First, we are reminded why ITAP exists and the links to the Carter Review. What jumps out immediately is that ITAP as isolated blocks of “intensive practice” are at odds with their own evidence base – creating an artificial “other” category for learning. /2 Image
Second, it is clear that ITAP retains the notion that teaching is a hierarchical set of knowledge – a series of techniques to be learned and practiced, rather than a mixture of hierarchical and cumulative aspects which are intricately linked to specific subjects and contexts. /3 Image
Read 20 tweets
Oct 5, 2022
This year I am exploring the things I wish every new #historyteacher knew in their first years .…

In part 4 I want to talk about developing knowledge in history classrooms - something which has been a hot topic for a while. #PGCE #ECF
The ECF and CCF have quite a lot to say about how pupils learn. However much of this stops at the point of considering knowledge transfer and the role of memory. If you are not aware of these basics however it’s worth reading @mfordhamhistory in @histassoc TH166 ImageImage
Fordham is a good starting point for moving us from some generic principles about learning to something more specific about history.

Do a little task now: what have you seen great history teachers do when they develop new knowledge in class? Image
Read 25 tweets
Sep 28, 2022
NEW: Welcome to part 3 of “Things I wish every new #historyteacher knew”. Today I want to explore what all new history teachers would benefit from knowing about the way history works and how we can open this up for young people. As ever I am drawing on @1972SHP Principles 🧵🪡
Before we begin, a little exercise. If you drew a diagram to show how historical interrogations are created, what would it look like? This is a task I get trainee teachers to do every year. If we want to explain our discipline we need to have a sense of how it works.
This is not just a “nice to know”. The National Curriculum actually demands that we introduce young people to the content of history as well as the concepts which underpin it and how it operates. Fulfilling our basic duties as history teachers requires engagement here.
Read 26 tweets
Sep 17, 2022
OK Part 2 of my @1972SHP “things-I-wish-every-new #historyteacher was-taught” thread.

Last time we looked at how new teachers learn. Today I want to think about why we are teaching history at all. /1 Image
Marc Bloch’s “The Historian’s Craft” opens with a child’s question: “Tell me, Daddy. What is the use of history?” It is a question deceptively simple because it requires an exploration of deep truths about what history is and is for. /2 Image
At the age of 4, my own daughter asked me a similar question when I told her I trained history teachers: “Why do they want to teach history, Daddy?” Interestingly, this is the exact way I tend to open my course…by asking that question. Because purposes matter! /3
Read 24 tweets
Jun 14, 2022
So last week my 5yo received the book commemorating the Platinum Jubilee. Govt constantly refers to “balance” in history but v little evident here. Just scratching the surface reveals why history can and should never be presented as a single, simple story. 🧵🪡
I don’t have a big prob w/ people commemorating 70yrs. But this book’s scope is wider than the life of Elizabeth II. It attempts to tell a story of the transformation of the UK from the 1950s to now - this means it carries much greater historical responsibility.
Crucially it is well presented and promises an interesting historical story. My daughter was fascinated. She asked me to read it to her at night. But the more I read, the more context I found myself having to give. My inner annaliste was nervous about the narrative.
Read 24 tweets
Apr 25, 2022
The American West has been a core GCSE topic in the UK for decades. But often the way it is taught perpetuates damaging narratives which erase Indigenous voices - much like this US example. Here are some of the things I wish I'd thought more about 16 years ago. A thread... /1 Image
Let's begin with preconceptions. This image comes from an amazing book by Philip Deloria: Indians in Unexpected Places. He shows how such an image reveals many preconceptions which shape how we think about Indigneous presence in North America. /2 Image
My own preconceptions of Native people began young and were shaped by TV westerns. I've spent a whole career unpicking them. Many teachers and students have their own preconceptions as you can see from the survey. It is often an image stuck in the C19th. /3 ImageImage
Read 25 tweets

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