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Give Great Teachers the Freedom to be Rebels and Risk-Takers, And Watch Students Reap the Rewards – #JustLetMeTeach

Nicole Ponsford took pupils to festivals, recording studios and on a film studies trip to Los Angeles, and sparked career dreams that help drive them into these industries

  • Give Great Teachers the Freedom to be Rebels and Risk-Takers, And Watch Students Reap the Rewards – #JustLetMeTeach

To support our new #JustLetMeTeach campaign, we have free primary and secondary teacher packs to download with practical advice to help you reduce your workload, refresh your teaching, and reignite a love of learning for you and your students.

One of my teaching passions was to introduce students to industry standard resources and opportunities.

The link between secondary schools and employment routes go hand in hand, but we know that being a ‘worker bee’ in the 4IR means more than qualifications. It means being employment ready – ready to collaborate (my favourite), be creative, use critical-thinking skills and be able to communicate.

Teaching ICT, English, Media and Film Studies allowed me to bring these future skills into the classroom – with bells on.

Having headteachers that understood both my style and enthusiasm allowed me to push the boundaries when it came to practical lessons – and just letting me teach.

This has resulted in an A-Level film studies trip to Los Angeles, off-site days to recording studios to create and produce CGI action films and mock reality music show documentaries, an advertising ‘Dragon’s Den’ style afternoon, mentoring with tech-giants for Year 11 boys and festival lighting experience for girls

Not only that though. We’ve had crime writing workshops with authors, whole KS3 Shakespearean ‘murder in the woods’ (at the back of the school – with crime tape and note taking a-plenty) and dismantled the odd library for Year 9 tech classes to create ‘working bookshelves’ for their peers to sit and read within.

Most of these ‘lessons’ happened outside of the classroom.

The LA trip was the only one that cost money, but the kids and I fundraised the shizzle out of things to get there over 18 months.

The rest was done through contacts, cold calls and a bit of what is called ‘The Ponsford Magic’ (aka begging).

When teachers are given freedom and confidence to ‘do their thing’ – to teach – the learning is incredible.

As a direct result of the activities above, many of these students have gone on to be players in these industries. And some are now teachers themselves.

My hope is that if you are a headteacher or a member of the staffroom you will support all of the rebels and risk-takers who think outside of the box to engage and energise the next generations – and that your schools are places that educate in the fullest sense of the word.

Nicole Ponsford is an educational writer, editor, speaker and coach. She is the the co-author of TechnoTeaching: Taking Practice to The Next Level in the Digital Age, founder of The Gender Equality Charter (GEC), co-founder of TechnoTeachers and a leader of WomenEdTech. Follow her on Twitter at @nicoleponsford.

We’re sharing this article as part of our #JustLetMeTeach campaign, in which we’re inviting teachers to share the moments when they’ve been able to pass on what excites them about their subject, and what has excited their pupils too – whether or not it helps children pass a test.

This is in response to our survey in which nearly 90% of teachers claimed to have taught ‘pointless’ lessons in order to help children pass national tests; 81% said they didn’t have time in the classroom to follow students’ interests; and 79% suggested that greater autonomy would improve the quality of their teaching.

Get involved by using the #JustLetMeTeach hashtag on social media, or get in touch with us on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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