I never intended to be a sociology teacher. Not even when I was doing my teacher training did I have any inkling that I would be putting my degree in Social Sciences to use. I was going to be an English teacher. The cool kind. You know the one. The one who doesn’t play by the rules. Who encourages their students to try out for the school play, then gets sacked because…well, he breaks the rules. As I’d leave the school, my students would stand on their desk and shout ‘Oh Captain, my Captain!’ Wait… that’s the plot of Dead Poets Society. You get the idea.
The reason I never thought I’d be a sociology teacher is simple. There was no funding to be a sociology teacher. There still isn’t. But when I studied the social sciences, I was never going to be a teacher. I was going to be Cracker. For those of you who are either too young to remember Cracker, it was a crime drama starring Robbie Coltrane as a hard-drinking, hard-gambling, but brilliant criminal psychologist who would (over three to four episodes) ‘crack’ the case and get the criminal to confess by exploiting the issues they had long suppressed. Think Mindhunter, only with Hagrid. I was hooked. I was convinced I was going to be ‘Cracker’ – I even moved to Dundee to master the Scottish accent. But three years into my degree, I faced the realisation that ‘Crackers’ don’t exist. At least not in the UK. Ever since I’ve poured cold water on the dreams of so many students who wanted to be a profiler or a Forensic Investigator or anything that has appeared on TV in the intervening 20 years. After graduating I ran nightclubs instead, before doing a second degree in Literature. I was never supposed to be a sociology teacher.
Why am I telling you this? Because on my travels around the country meeting Sociology teachers, it has become quite evident that there is an increasing number of non-specialists or that teachers with Sociology degrees are shoe-horned onto PGCE programmes for other ‘related’ subjects. Religious Studies, Geography, History, Psychology, Media are common. I’ve even met P.E. and Maths teachers who have been asked to pick up the subject without any formal training.
And there is nothing scarier…
In my early ‘jobbing years’ in FE, I used to pick up any subject. But Sociology was the one that stuck. It was only half way through my first year when I realised that Sociology was a better fit to my teaching style and despite still picking up the odd General Studies, or Psychology, or Finance qualification, Sociology was the one I loved.
So, the purpose of this teacher zone is to help those that need help. Over the last ten years I’ve achieved a lot in Sociology, albeit with students with low expectations (not of themselves, but from institutions). I’ve been involved with private companies, secondary schools, colleges, universities and exam boards, examining, presenting, creating resources, doing research, providing CPD. And I’m going to share it here.
In the Teacher zone, you will find my weekly lessons a week in advance for GCSE and A level. Not always full resources and lesson plans, but I will talk through how I am going to approach the week ahead in terms of planning, timing, activities, resources etc. Think of it as a virtual scheme of work.
Each week I will release two blogs: a GCSE blog and an A Level blog. In each I will discuss what I plan to do with my year 1 and year 2 cohorts. I plan for 4.5 hours for Year 1 and 5 hours for Year 2 at A level and roughly 3 hours at GCSE. If your timings differ, please do not worry that you are behind. I do teach fast, because I believe in ‘staged repetition’ or ‘spaced practice’ or ‘spiral learning’ (Depending on what you call, so there will be plenty of opportunities for students to revisit existing material (this is essential with the new linear formats).
Hopefully you will find it helpful.
The Sociology Guy