Loud RE: finding your RE voice
“Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.” Stephen Covey, American educator, author, businessman and keynote speaker.
As I write this my husband is watching a rugby game, and it is interesting how the noise of the crowd lifts the players who are playing, and this is making me think as teachers we aren’t all that different. Sometimes the hardest thing about leading RE or being a RE teacher is that you can be very much on your own.
I wonder whether you have a ‘crowd’ that are encouraging you in your RE leadership and work? If not, I would say it is essential to find places that encourage you in being a reflective RE practitioner, where you can hear from others about what they do that is successful in RE and be inspired and excited about what you can do and improve in your own practice. This will help you to speak up and out and fine tune your voice in your school. Finding a local network would help – see www.natre.org.uk/about-natre/re-in-your-region/ to get started. You also need to look after yourself and your voice – attending meetings with others that share your passion or interests can help you stay healthy and not to lose your voice.
It is essential to ensure that there is a RE voice in your school. This is for the pupils as well as for the staff. You might think loud voices are negative, but in a busy place like a school, voices need to be loud, clear and constantly present to often have impact.
If we don’t speak up, RE can suffer from a lack of understanding or mis-presentation. Our NQT’s can miss out on training in their first year of teaching, an essential for every school and if the RE voice isn’t loud it can be forgotten – there are so many demands on CPD. To have a sustainable effective RE voice in your school that is respected and listened to we need to use the right tone, timbre and range in different situations in order for the RE need to be heard.
Does your school have a clear vision for RE? Is RE part of your school’s development plan? Is the vision and plan based on voices within the school? Pupils, parents and staff are all important voices that can help inform RE of its next steps.
The curriculum gives plenty of opportunities to run projects/learning in conjunction with other subjects or departments. This week we have had world poetry day, and NATREs Spirited Poetry competition has run giving a way of doing RE and English together. Cross-curricular projects and learning can give RE a way of raising its profile within a school, and make its voice stronger or louder. When was the last project you did with someone else in your school to raise RE’s voice?
Remember to shout about any RE successes in your school! Find opportunities to celebrate what is working well, it will encourage everyone including yourself to keep going!
Finally, in finding your voice and keeping it constantly going you will inspire others to find theirs, pupils and fellow teachers are always looking for role models. Wouldn’t it be great to be someone’s inspiration in this coming week as you speak up for RE.
Written by Claire Clinton, RE advisor to Newham, Barking and Dagenham and NATRE RE ambassador for London @ClaireClinton67