Teachers need support too!

What do you do when a skilled teacher wants to give up teaching because of the paper-work demands of the job? This was the dilemma faced by managers at Portsmouth City Council’s (PCC), Community Learning Service because of their organisation’s requirements for tutors to keep Course Files (schemes of work, lesson plans and lesson evaluations using standard proformas).
For one dyslexic member of staff, Jenny, the demands of a text-based, paperwork heavy approach had become too stressful. Jenny teaches non-accredited independent living, drama and confidence building courses for LDD leaners. Her style is very learner-led; continually assessing her learners’ needs and progress to inform how she orders and approaches each session. This ability to adapt, changing direction, method or pace comes naturally to Jenny in the classroom and is exactly what her learners.

Taking the potential loss of a tutor seriously, PCC worked with Jenny to identify what her specific needs were and to find a solution that worked for her. The way in which they achieved this was to observe Jenny as she started to plan a new course. It became obvious that Jenny needed to see things visually, she needed to be able to capture thoughts and ideas instantly and then to place them in order but with the flexibility to move them again as needed. Having to stop and concentrate on spellings interfered with her planning process and the use of audio would have been beneficial.

Through observation, a mind-mapping tool became an obvious choice; the one selected was Mindomo (paid version). Jenny has discovered that a single mind map provides her with more than a Course File it not only contains her Scheme of Work (displayed as bubble) associated Lesson Plans (displayed as sub-bubbles) and Lesson Evaluations (audio bubbles) but she attaches resources and links to websites to their associated bubble. All Course Files are online and are shared in the same way you share an ePortfolio, so they are accessible by the Quality and Curriculum Officer for review at any time.

Course tutor file using mindmap software.
The Learning Place was Ofsted inspected in November 2013 and Jenny’s class was observed. Jenny used her course mind map throughout the session to provide the session’s aims and objectives, to quickly access websites and to show and explain activity documents. The Ofsted Inspector asked Jenny to demonstrate the mind map course files to her after her session. She asked Jenny how she used the software, why she was using it and the benefits it bought to her. Following the demonstration the Inspector commented on how impressed she was to see an organisation supporting its staff.

A full case study can be read on the NIACE’s Equalities Toolkit website http://www.equalitiestoolkit.com/content/course-tutor-files where you will find a range of case studies detailing how organisations have made changes for both staff and students.

Written for HOLEX by Ideas4Learning Limited

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