My experience as a Returner
18 / 04 / 19
06 / 09 / 18
F&BF have hosted our inaugural cohort of Teach First teachers who completed their Summer Project intern placement in our offices for a week during their 6 week summer break. We had the privilege of hosting one primary and one secondary specialist who brought their Teach First classroom expertise to our interfaith charity’s school team to create something amazing for teachers across the UK.
When people ask me where I work, I normally reply in a rote fashion: “I’m a Geography teacher in a secondary school in Bradford”. Simple. This summer however, I decided to see what it would be like to work in a different environment; helping young people outside of the school setting.
Having gained my Qualified Teacher Status through Teach First, I was eligible to take part in the Summer Projects that Teach First offer each year. As defined by Teach First, these are “one-to-three-week internships our community of current and former teacher trainees undertake every August in schools, charities, social enterprises and corporate organisations”. It was through this that I came across the Faith and Belief Forum and learnt about the amazing work that they do to improve interfaith relations and create a connected and supportive society. After applying for the project and being accepted (yippee), I set off to spend a week in their London office, working alongside the Schools team as an Education Consultant.
Fast forward one week and I’m now sat here having completed my Summer Project, amazed at how much I have learnt in one week and how welcoming and supportive the Schools’ team have been.
So, what exactly have I been doing?
1. Online resources. A large part of my week has been designated to planning and creating online resources that can be shared with teachers. These support teachers in leading sessions about different faiths, beliefs and cultures, and provide opportunities for pupils to reflect upon the diverse nature of our society. This week I have created lesson plans and assemblies for interfaith week, as well producing several stand-alone lessons that can be used in RE, PSHCE or form time. These lessons focus on: introducing faiths and beliefs; celebrating faith; challenging unhelpful stereotypes; and celebrating diversity. I have found it extremely enjoyable making these resources and I hope that they will be useful for teachers across the UK.
2. Evaluations and recommendations. I have also spent time this week meeting with various members of the school team to provide insights into what interfaith work looks like in schools, and what is needed to make it even more effective. In small groups and one-to-one meetings, I have responded to ideas put forward and have been given the opportunity to present my own suggestions. I have also been able to ask my own questions about the charity and their work in schools, which has enabled me to learn more about the interfaith landscape. I feel that this has been extremely beneficial for my own teaching practice, as I have gained a wealth of lesson ideas that I can take back to my own school and use to improve the quality of interfaith teaching.
3. Training and Personal Development. The Faith and Belief Forum kindly allocated time to running training sessions that provided in-depth information about the charity sector. Within these sessions, the charity landscape was discussed, and I was able to reflect on the connections between teaching and the charity sector. This was extremely helpful for me as I move forward in my career, and it has given me food for thought with regards to how best I can have an impact in my school.
So, I end with a thank you to The Faith and Belief Forum – for providing me with the opportunity to complete this summer project; for welcoming me into their team; and for investing in my development as a teacher and facilitator of interfaith work. I’ve had an amazing week!
My name is Fiona and I am a primary teacher and Teach First ambassador. In the summer of 2018, I joined the Faith and Belief Forum as a primary consultant, as part of a Teach First summer project. In my current role, I lead the teaching and learning of Religious Education in a denominational school and therefore have a keen interest in all areas of faith and beliefs. I was keen to find out how I could develop my practice by bettering my understanding of interfaith learning. Alongside this, I hoped to use my recent teaching experience to support F&BF in their early development of online resources and lend a constructively critical eye to further develop existing products.
As part of my project, I was tasked with developing a set of lesson resources with an interfaith theme. I chose to focus on the themes of charity and environment, and created lesson plans for KS1 and KS2 classes in a mono-cultural school. I have enjoyed bettering my own understanding of these concepts from an interfaith perspective and have found it challenging but interesting, considering how to convey nuances to children in a mono-cultural setting. I have also focused on developing resources to introduce and teach children about Interfaith Week. Interfaith Week occurs during November and provides an opportunity to strengthen relations between different faiths and beliefs as well celebrate the collaborative work that occurs. It has been interesting considering ways in which these key concepts could be delivered to children in a thought-provoking and engaging way.
A real highlight has been learning about the excellent workshops and programmes the F&BF School team run. F&BF place a real focus on supporting young people to empathise with others, asking questions in an honest but sensitive manner and appreciating the faiths and beliefs of others. A challenge I have faced in the classroom, is how to support a pupil to rephrase a tricky question so that it’s sensitive in nature – but still helps them to find out their desired answer. Leaning how to use strategies, such as F&BF’s ASKR, will certainly help me with these situations in the future, and ensure effective and sensitive dialogue can be used in the classroom. I am looking forward to returning to my school, equipped with a wealth of new ideas and strategies.
The week I have spent with F&BF has been both insightful and rewarding. Not only have I met and worked alongside a fantastic and welcoming team, who consistently demonstrate a real passion for interfaith learning but have also developed a wealth of knowledge that I am eager to take back to the classroom. Thank you very much F&BF!