Kirby DowlerDesign & Technology

Following completion of a BA Hons Furniture and Product Design Degree and a PGCE in Design & Technology, I began teaching in 2008.  My teaching ethos has developed through my extensive experience is to create an innovative, vibrant, highly visual and stimulating learning environment that enables pupils at all levels to achieve their full potential. This led to a successful promotion to Head of Department in 2012.

In applying this ethos at John Taylor; I have transformed D&T at all levels from KS3-5 through the unerring commitment that I have given to the research into teaching methodologies to promote quality first teaching in every single lesson.

I am dedicated to the development of others; I was recently appointed as a Specialist Leader of Education for Initial Teacher Training & Newly Qualified Teachers. This role allows me to work with Trainee teachers and NQTs outside of the SCITT programme, my current DT department and John Taylor High School. I work very closely with both Trainees and NQTs to ensure we have effective and purposeful collaboration, where challenge becomes the ‘norm’ and you become the very best teacher you can be.

I have a passion for Teaching & Learning (T&L) and play a key part in sharing T&L strategies with other practitioners through the ‘Innovate my Teaching’ papers.  These are disseminated on a whole school level to improve the quality of T&L in all classrooms at John Taylor. I want all lessons to be active, engaging and encourage independent and resilient learners to succeed. I can’t wait to pass on my knowledge and expertise to you as a SCITT trainee.

Should I be concerned about subject knowledge prior to starting the course?

It is advised for you to have strong subject knowledge before starting the course as it is key to becoming an excellent practitioner. There are SKE courses available in DT which would specifically aid with KS3 subject knowledge. It would be therefore required for you to spend time before the course looking at the content for KS4/5 in order for you to deliver the theory elements of the DT curriculum effectively.

We understand students may come to us with differing practical skills and abilities. As long as you can show commitment to the practical side of the course and are able to solve problems, we can continue to develop your practical skills in the ‘open sessions’ that are planned on the Friday afternoons.  You would also be required to continue to develop your practical skills outside of these sessions, in order to compile a strong portfolio that can be shown at interview.

How are the subject knowledge sessions structured?

Friday afternoons are designed to build on the knowledge learnt in the morning sessions.  We will use this guided time to apply the knowledge and theory from the morning sessions into practical strategies that will support and enhance progress within your own lessons. We also collaboratively look at ways in which to tailor it specifically to a DT context.

How do you help trainees across the subject areas gain employment?

I ensure that you will have a strong portfolio at the end of the course to show your practical skills to potential employers. I am actively engaged with the training on a Friday afternoon to ensure that you are ready for the ‘real world’ of Teaching making you a highly competitive candidate.  This has proven successful with many of my previous trainees securing positions of responsibility within the first 2-3 years of teaching.

Why do you enjoy working with trainees?

Teaching to me is not a job, it is a vocation and it is with genuine enthusiasm and love for the job that I come to work each morning. As an energetic, collaborative and motivational leader, who prides herself on setting high standards and creating a stimulating environment for both staff and students alike, I am committed to training, inspiring and leading teachers of the future. Working with SCITT trainees is a fundamental role that ensures we develop resilient, committed and determined teachers of the future and ultimately Teachers who will make a difference to young people’s lives.

What the trainees say…

‘Throughout my training at John Taylor, Kirby was always very supportive with any issues, concerns or teacher queries that I had. We met each week to discuss my progress and to look ahead for key groups, ensuring all groups were on track to make the appropriate progress. Kirby regularly learning walked my lessons to review my performance and where required offer suggestions for improvements or different ways of working for challenging pupils. I felt I could talk to Kirby about any concerns I had and she would always give constructive feedback to support me. Feedback often came in the form of questions to help me self reflect on my practice and discover new ways on my own without giving me the answers straight away. This has ensured I have embedded outstanding teaching practices within all of my lessons and find my own style of teaching.’

‘Kirby’s passion for D&T, teaching and learning and supporting others to achieve, is outstanding. Kirby’s natural ability to inspire and build confidence in people is what makes her so fantastic; in addition, her wealth of experience and knowledge combined with genuine care means you get advice and support which is measurable and achievable. Without having had such an amazing role model, I would not be the teacher I am today.’



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