Social Purpose Teaching Awards

*****VOTING NOW OPEN!******

It’s been an amazing year for everyone involved in our teaching programmes at Northern College, and the wider Community of Praxis.  From the intense and far-reaching #TDReflex14, to our face-to-face Reflexion and Diversity workshops; from the inspiring co-operative work with the WEA on the #WEAnewleaf Think Differently project to our exciting and thoughtful discussions in the Yammer spaces.

There is so much good practice out there that it feels entirely right to recognise and celebrate this.  Our stories of transformational education and excellence in teaching are so powerful that they should be shared with the world!

As a result we are holding our very first Social Purpose Teaching Awards, forming part of our conference on Friday 4th July.  The great thing these awards is that YOU get to decide who is nominated, and YOU decide who to vote for.

How do I vote?

You can vote on-line or in person, if you are attending our Teach Different Conference on Friday 4th July.

You can vote for as many people as you like – even yourself!  Just email us at socialpurposeawards@gmail.com, stating:

  1. The award number (s)
  2. Who you are voting for.

Please ensure that all on-line votes are received by midday on Friday 4 July.

Winners will be announced at the end of the conference and the results and fantastic stories shared here.

The Award Categories and Nominees

1. Teaching to your values

Many of us face conflict in our teaching practice every day, and have to constantly think of ways to embed our values in the teaching we’re doing.  This takes resilience and courage.  Treading the line between personal and organisational values, while establishing our identities as teachers is difficult, but can be ultimately rewarding and empowering.

Gillian Harwood – Gillian’s quest to stay true to her values when teaching in pressured and target-driven environments has been affirming, inspiring and at times heart-breaking.  Although now in Spain, Gill has overcome an initial resistance to social media to share our practice and gives constant support – a very important absent identity.

Ellie Julings –  Ellie takes time to think really deeply about how she teaches to her values, particularly in an organisational environment where its probably easier to go with the standard cultural ‘norm’. She continually stretches herself beyond the boundaries, challenging the barriers of society – particularly in her work with young people and the environment.  The questions she poses to herself and others demonstrate real determination to overcome limiting assumptions and generate new thinking.

Tom Monaghan – Tom has done amazing, values-based work this year with job-seekers and carers; students often marginalised and mandated to attend training.   Tom makes his sessions fun and meaningful, using Thinking Environment principles to include, value and respect every one of the learners who walks through his door.

Sheila Robinson –  According to one of her many enthusiastic students at Northern College – ‘Sheila awakened the dormant socialist revolt in me! I was so excited about her brilliant sessions. she is an incredible teacher, intelligent, fascinating, teaches all of it to her values, and her units along with diversity practicums and meditation, as well as some prolonged study, are what carried me through my PGCE.’

Kay Sidebottom – Kay continually teaches and works to her values whilst often dealing with forces pushing her towards other things. She has been instrumental in the development of others as a critically reflective practitioners, broadening understanding of diversity through the recent Diversity Programme coaching practicums.

Angela Wright – Angela truly practises what she preaches, leading innovative and ground-breaking community development projects which are gaining national recognition.  She is passionate about exploring the values-base behind teaching and leadership and inspires others to do the same.

2. Reflexive Practice

Being reflexive is going beyond that initial glance in the mirror and considering what we’re doing and how to change it.  Reflexivity is actually walking in through the mirror to explore the why, as well. This is a skill that takes courage and admits vulnerability.  It might be take place through personal reflexive journals, classroom discussions, coaching and blogging.

Rachel Allwood – Rachel has a very strong commitment to reflexive practice, demonstrated by her writing on this blog.  Her Meditation classes have used a range of spiritual teachings to spark reflexive thought as well as mindfulness, building self-awareness in all her students.  According to a colleague ‘She has certainly enabled me to think in more depth and more analytically about my own reflexive practice and what it is I need in order to be an effective reflexive teacher’.

Katy Henderson – Katy’s observation and portfolio feedback is well-renowned for being detailed, thorough and incisive; while supportive and affirming too.  It inspires her Level 4 and CertEd students to think more deeply and take their teaching practice to the next level.  This ability to facilitate true reflexivity is valued by students and colleagues alike.

Brent Riley – Brent joined the Level 3 Education and Training earlier this year and immediately blew us away with his incisive thinking and natural inclination to reflect deeply.  Brent’s reflexive journals, which included poetry, were written with flow, connecting with thinkers throughout to form new ideas.  His writing has been a true inspiration to his colleagues and teachers.

Ojaih Willow-Edwards and Ellie Julings (joint nomination) – Ojaih and Ellie’s dialogues in our Yammer and blogging spaces have been a joy and inspiration to anyone who has read them.  Their thinking about diversity and identity has sparked thought and deep consideration and exploration of a range of teaching issues; reminding us of Freire and Horton in ‘We Make the Road by Walking’.  Ojaih and Ellie show courage in their writing and inspire us all to think more deeply and challenge the status quo.

3. Embedding Diversity

Here, we look at how individuals work on embedding three aspects of identity; embedding diversity of opinion, resonating with those identities present, and bringing in perspectives from absent identities.   Through the process of recognising individual identities, we are able to truly differentiate learning, too.

There have been some amazing examples of good practice in this area this year, emerging through the Diversity Programme.

Rachel Allwood – Rachel has brought to the community of praxis an incredibly diverse and mindful practice through her meditation classes and participation in the Cert Ed.  Her inclusion of a variety of spiritual teachings has taught us the commonalities in faith, and been instrumental in developing our tolerance and confidence to embed faith issues in our teaching.

Tariq Bashir – Tariq  is Project Manager of ‘Who Is Your Neighbour?’ a South Yorkshire project that holds safe space dialogue in white communities targeted by the far right as places where they think their ideology could take hold.  This safe space dialogue allows people to be honest and to say things ‘you’re not allowed to say’ while also providing space for reflection and challenge.  Tariq has kindly shared many techniques with us and helped us to learn new ways to challenge and further improve our teaching practice.

Heather Booth-Martin – Heather joined a number of our programmes this year and has taken her learning back to stimulate new thinking at Craven College.  She used new techniques and ideas learnt on the Diversity Programme to develop a new approach to teaching Equality and Diversity with her group of trainee teachers.  Her involvement in the coaching element of the programme encouraged her to consider her own assumptions and take exciting steps in her own practice.

Ellie Julings – Ellie’s brave writing and questioning has helped us all to grow in confidence when considering gender and sexuality issues this year.  As a result of her thought-provoking writing and participation in discussions we are now able to start those difficult conversations in our own teaching.  She has shown patience and humility in furthering our understanding.

Lesley Whiting – Lesley has a natural ability to embed diversity into her work. This has been explicit within the ILM Team Leader course, where she introduced a social purpose model of leadership.  Lesley’s approach enables everyone to have a voice and feel valued and that their voice has value; this contributed to exemplary achievement rates.

Angela Wright – Angela is fearless in her passion and faith and her quiet consideration makes a her a valued and respected member of Northern College. Angela is trail blazing the social purpose model into the Working Communities programme where embedding diversity through the three aspects of opinion, present and absent identities shines through. Her respect and joy at the difference of individuals is present in her work every day.

 4. Win-Win-Win

This category is about the impact that our practice has on our wider community and the world at large.  It is where our Freirian belief in praxis – ‘action and reflection on the world in order to change it’ – is really brought to life. 

John Dougan – John has been voluntarily providing sessions for a male peer support group in a community support group Headway. This is a support group for people of any age, with an acquired brain injury. John has planned and produced sessions on a 3 weekly basis. Using all the work he has undertaken at Northern College in his PGCE and the diversity programme, John has developed a male peer support group that different people attend at different times.  It looks at what they can still do or can now do, to what they have lost or can no longer undertake in activities of daily living and activities. This is truly life changing education for individuals, their families and the wider community. John also provides incredible support to the Community of Praxis; his comments ground us and we would be nothing without his presence.

Everybody – We all teach for a social purpose and work to deliver transformational education that changes the lives of individuals and communities.  There are no losers here. (Thank you to Steven Goodfellow for this nomination 🙂

Caroline Lees – Caroline’s students face many barriers to learning – often having complex learning needs.  She has recently supported many learners through a ground-breaking traineeship, supporting them to access opportunities to work and be counted in the working world.  Caroline stands up and fights for often marginalised and forgotten members of society, basing her work on values of respect, equality and inclusion.

Sharron O’Rourke and James O’Mara – Sharron and James undertake important and often over-looked work with families in the Barnsley area.  They overcome organisational challenges to provide education that is linked closely to their values and work hard to embed respect and diversity in everything they do.

RMT tutors – We have learnt so much from having RMT tutors on our tutor education programmes this year.  Their  transformational approach to teaching, addressing inequalities in educational opportunities,  is always delivered with passion and integrity.  Their strong values-base has meant that they have seamlessly fitted into any groups that they have joined, treating fellow students with respect and bringing an important element of fun to classes, too!

Angela Wright – Angela demonstrates through her teaching practice a will to change the world and never loses focus on the learner in all she does. She is truly inspirational and her work on teacher identity is a powerful medium for change –  we have used it and seen it for ourselves.

5.  Additional award for Excellence in Digital Innovation and Participation

The recent #Feltag report recognises the importance of using technology for learning in further education.  It recommends a move to the delivery of more learning on-line, and this is challenge that can either inspire or terrify!

Michelle Chadwick – Michelle has truly embraced the recent joint WEA and Northern College ‘New Leaf’ project, coming up with creative and innovative ideas for improving administrative processes.  She developed a vodcast to share her ideas, using technology new to herself and others.  Michelle has also jumped into Yammer and blogging, soon developing confidence and demonstrating an approach to technology in teaching led by doing.

Tom Monaghan – Tom is always ready and willing to help colleagues, students and peers with any aspect of ICT. In our increasingly digital age, it is important that the benefits here are used to widen participation and reduce existing social divisions, bringing communities together. Tom has met this challenge head-on through his invaluable social purpose work, helping many people to overcome their fears around digital literacy, to truly realise their potential. Tom opens a gateway to people which has an incredible social impact for his students.

Trevor Parsons – This year we have had the amazing opportunity to work more closely with colleagues in the Workers’ Educational Association, such as Trevor.  Trevor has been an active participant in our TDReflex14 uncourse, sharing his incisive thoughts and practice through blogs and Yammer discussions.  He has also introduced us to the exciting work of JISC.

Kay Sidebottom – Kay actively uses social media to help change the world through the most accessible forms of top quality communications. She shows innovative thinking and bravery to experiment with all the free platforms potentially out there. She has recently been involved in developing e-learning for Elected Members (social purpose based, of course) and an Open Badges project at Northern College.

Lesley Whiting – Lesley has persevered with social media, unpicking and challenging her own assumptions about these on-line spaces, and as result becoming a successful user of Yammer, Facebook and even Twitter.

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Author: Alison Longden

Hard working educator with passionate interest in Teaching for a Social Purpose. Everything I've learned is through observing colleagues and students, all of whom are committed to changing the world. And reading interesting stuff. I work at The Northern College in Barnsley and its mission (and thirty-eight year history) of social transformation makes it an ideal base to face the challenges of teaching adults in 21st century England.

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