Robert Sam Nelson
Mr Robert Sam Nelson ITET, PGCE
Lecturer in ITET
Tel: +44 (0)1792 481000
Secondary PGCE Geography tutor
- To provide full time support to PGCE geography students
- To deliver key aspects of pedagogy in order to build student understanding
- To help students to develop pedagogical subject knowledge
- To carry out formative and summative assessments of PGCE student lessons
- To help students to develop, monitor and evaluate student action plans
- To work closely with school based mentors in order to ensure quality of provision for students
- To provide support for academic writing and assignment completion
- To carry out educational research in order to enhance student experience
- To contribute to other programmes e.g. PCET and GTP
I am a fully committed and innovative teacher of Geography with 13 years experience in two very different secondary schools. I took up my first teaching post in Chalvedon School and Sixth Form College in 2000, after doing my PGCE in Aberystwyth University. Chalvedon (now Basildon Academies) was a large comprehensive school with 1850 on roll, serving a deprived area within south Essex.
Teaching in the school was an immensely challenging yet rewarding experience due to the nature of the pupils, and indeed the area. Educational attainment was not a high priority for a large percentage of the pupils, and many were socially and academically challenged. This meant that planning was crucial in terms of preparing the physical space and resources, as well as structuring lessons with varied and engaging activities.
In addition to this, each lesson had to be structured to include support for learners with additional learning needs, and so differentiated learning opportunities were incorporated into each lesson plan. Typically this would include elements of visual, audio and kinaesthetic learning, as well as support for the structuring and reviewing of work. These principles have formed the basis of my teaching philosophy throughout my career.
As well as the development of teaching and learning strategies, I also gained considerable management experience in Chalvedon School. In my second year of teaching I was given responsibility for planning, administering and marking coursework; in my third year I was asked to overhaul the fieldwork programmes at each key stage; and in my fourth year I became a mentor to an NQT and GTP within the department.
Each of these roles helped me to develop my organisational skills, and my role as a mentor helped me to develop my soft management skills. The experience of acting as a mentor to the new staff was easily the most rewarding, and challenging, and laid the foundations of my desire to work with aspiring teachers. In my final year in Chalvedon School I was made subject leader which gave me the experience of managing a large department of six, with a team composed of both senior and new members of staff.
This role helped me to develop my interpersonal skills as I had to tackle the challenge of supporting and motivating newer staff, while maintaining the drive and enthusiasm of senior staff. Furthermore, the task of monitoring and evaluation within the department was significant, and helped me to develop the hard skills of management including data analysis, target setting and performance review.
My second teaching job, from 2005 to the present, has been at Llandrindod High School. My motivation for making the move was to experience new challenges, particularly related to academic success and increased focus on pedagogy. Upon taking the post I was charged with responsibility of turning the popularity of the subject around. Leading up to 2005, Geography was regularly getting ‘A’ level groups of 2 or 3, and in 2005 itself, only 14 GCSE pupils out of a year group of 120 chose to study GCSE Geography.
In order to meet this challenge, I set about changing the teaching and learning within the department from a closed, didactic style, to an open, pupil-centred approach. This has proved very successful as since 2008 Geography has become the most popular subject at GCSE, with an average of 75% of year 10 pupils each year opting for the subject, and up to 40% at ‘A’ level.
Throughout this time exam results have also improved, with FFTD and ALIS targets being regularly met and exceeded. One factor helping this improvement has been my work as a WJEC examiner which has given me a real insight into the requirements of exam courses, as well as an understanding of how to assess, and use assessment, to drive pupil progress.
Throughout my career, teaching and learning strategies have been a central focus of my professional development. I have been part of several action research projects linked to CPD on teaching and learning, starting with my participation in the Shirley Clarke project on formative assessment in 2007. The central aim of the project was to encourage the use of strategies within the classroom that are designed to put pupils at the centre of the planning and reviewing of work.
The action element of my research was to compare progress between a class that used the formative strategies, and one that was taught using more traditional methods. The results of this research were clear; that formative strategies can have a major impact on attainment, engagement and achievement. In 2009, I worked with Julia Fardy (DCELLS) on similar research involving ‘Thinking Skills’ and ‘Learning Tools’, and in 2011, I worked with Mike Ross on a project based on ‘Literacy across the curriculum’.
My experience of working in each of these projects has allowed me to develop a rich and varied range of teaching strategies, as well as an in-depth understanding of how learning can be facilitated and enhanced. In addition to this, in presenting findings to staff within my own school, the local primary clusters, and to county wide groups (including NQTs) I have gained invaluable experience at large scale, lecture style presentation.
Along with my passion for teaching and learning, staff development is, I believe, my true strength. I have mentored new staff since my own early years in teaching, and I have been a subject link tutor for PGCE students from Aberystwyth since 2006. All of the students that have been placed within my department have gone on to complete the course successfully, and all have developed the essential skills needed to be an excellent classroom practitioner.
I believe that I have acted as a positive role model for students in terms of my professional conduct, my depth of knowledge and understanding, and my constant emphasis on self evaluation and improvement. My successes as a tutor have been recognised beyond my school, with Aberystwyth University asking me to deliver presentations to students, as well as helping out with interviews at the application stage.
In addition to this, I have recently been promoted to the role of associate SLT member in the school. This role includes acting as general mentor for PGCE students within the school, along with overseeing the RE department in a line management and mentorial capacity. Since writing this statement I have been appointed to the post of Lecturer in Initial teacher training and education at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
Learner centred pedagogical approaches
Assessment for Learning strategies