The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Teaching in a secondary school

My school day officially starts after my morning coffee (of course!), when I let my tutor group into my classroom. I took on the role of S1 Mentor in 2010, offering a supportive role to a brand-new group of Academy pupils. This involved getting to know them well enough to write their full-year S1 reports. Since then I have kept them as my registration group, building on the positive relationships I have developed with them. They arrive between 15 and 20 minutes before the bell and usually have something interesting to share with me first thing in the morning. It's been a real pleasure to watch them turn into the brand new S3 group they are now. The first tutor group I had in the school was an S3 group and the last of them left last week. It was very strange but, as always, pleasing, to watch some of the wee unsure faces I met on my first day at the Academy walk out of the door as young adults. I can't imagine my current group as S6 pupils but I'm sure that day will come faster than I expect!

I've had the pleasure of teaching my current tutor group History this year, which allowed me to get to know them in a learning setting. The S2 course mainly covers Nazi-Germany and the Holocaust, an area of particular interest for me. In 2009 I was part of a SCIPD LTS teacher's visit to Berlin and was inspired to take on a number of Holocaust Education related projects after this. The most ambitious of which was the East Ayrshire School's Paperclips Project. My co-founder and I were keen to show that Holocaust Education was an ideal focus for inter-disciplinary learning and that Curriculum for Excellence was the ideal vehicle for Holocaust Education. We spent a year organising a number of cross-curricular activities and encouraged local primary schools to take on the collection of paper clips to help commemorate the diverse and numerous victims of the Holocaust. Since then I have spent a lot of time developing the school's Holocaust Education provision as well as continuing to support the senior pupils who have taken on the Holocaust Educational Trust's Lessons from Auschwitz Project. I have also taught the Advanced Higher class since 2008 and really enjoy the very different but positive relationships I have developed with the senior pupils that have come through my door.

I teach a huge range of History classes throughout the week, from S1 to Advanced Higher and the Crusades to the First World War. This year I have taught Access 2 Social Subjects for the first time. The class in question is a group of S3 (now S4) pupils from the school's Supported Learning Centre. The centre allows pupils with moderate SEBD and additional learning needs to access mainstream education in a supported setting. In recent years this has involved pupils coming to mainstream classes for certain subjects. As a History teacher I started the Access 2 Course with a Home Front unit which culminated in a VE Day-style achievement celebration. Pupils planned and hosted the party for their peers and an exclusive guest list of their favourite school staff! I am now exploring the joys of Geography teaching with their current unit which focuses on an investigation of Natural Hazards. Although only a small group of pupils, the class presents its challenges, however their achievements far outweigh the tricky days and although preparing for the class takes a large proportion of my planning time, the reward has been the pleasure of seeing the class develop and achieve in a mainstream environment.

During the lead-up to the exams I can usually be found in my room at lunchtimes, offering supported study and revision help to those who need it. The rest of the year though, I try to take a wee bit of lunch time to catch-up with colleagues. The staff here are extremely supportive and the staff-room is generally a positive environment. We're a very friendly school and right from the start of my time here I have felt part of great wee community. I've been involved in various extra-curricular activities since I joined the school and currently rehearse with the staff choir twice a week. I've also worked the sound desk for the school show for the last couple of years and three years I ago I even learnt to ballroom dance for a "Come-Dancing" charity event! There really is never a dull moment in this job and the Academy is one of those schools where the pupils really make it. Their down-to-earth attitude really helps me to keep feet on the ground even if they're the first to tell you if you're "being a bit mad Miss". I've always been very enthusiastic about my job and I hope I stay that way. Even if it often means I'm in bed before 9pm, it's always what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Katie Winterburn, History teacher.