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Hywel Roberts – teaching hooks and exercising imagination – PP37

The topic of the week is teaching hooks and exercising imagination.


Hywel RobertsOur very special guest is consultant and drama teachers, Hywel Roberts. Hywel began with an English degree and then a PGCE in English and Drama. Teaching practice at the school from the TV show Educating Yorkshire taught him a lot about engagement and behaviour management. He subsequently taught in a school in Wakefield and remembers crying into an empty filing cabinet after trying to teach a class Julius Caesar. That class ‘took him to the cleaners’ three times a week.

He then went to Barnsley to set up a drama department as well as teaching English. It was challenging but it was at a time when education was being used to regenerate the area alongside many other initiatives.

He became an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) and learned that one way of engaging children was trying to ‘get them bothered’ about what they were doing. They invested in a great creative curriculum in Key Stage 3.

Hywel labels himself as a ‘travelling teacher’ rather than a consultant.

It’s about our motivation and how we make that infectious

We don’t need to be entertainers but how do we make learning gripping? How do we drag kids to the edge of their seats? Drama is a beautiful vehicle for doing this. It is an ‘oasis’ for certain learners – as are other subjects.

Hywel Roberts 2Hywel reached the point at which he decided to resign from the classroom and explore other ways to teach and help teachers. He discovered Twitter as a tool for spreading the word about his work in engagement, persona, and rapport.

Apart from his consultancy work, Hywel also worked in an special school in Barnsley which gained an outstanding classification. He believes that the credibility of still being an active teacher is important – not just talking about teaching.

Tips for teachers to hook learners in:

  • Make sure you are planning for your children – if you have found or downloaded a shared resource, make sure it’s applicable to your class
  • Have something as a talking point for the class – Hywel used to run to his science classes because the teacher always had ‘something dead in a jar’ – we can’t do this now but it’s important to hook the children in emotionally
  • Choose to be a ‘Sherpa of the imagination’ rather than presenting material in a dull way – and not just in Primary

What to do if you are not a performer

  • Have consistency
  • Be yourself and make sure you exude warmth towards the students
  • Be creative with the way you approach the delivery of the curriculum
  • Aim for purposeful silence as well as purposeful noise

Paul, Kevin and Hywel share some stories of the most important things they have learned from the children in their classes – do listen as they are fascinating and inspiring.

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