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  • Writer's pictureTom Hopkins-Burke

Events Recap: TTR Sociology 07/02/2024

Teachers Talk Radio hosted its first Event of 2024 - and this time it was the turn of our Sociology teachers to share their triumphs and wisdom! Read on for a full recap of the event, or watch from the very beginning above...

Tuesday evening saw a crowd of Sociology teachers assemble remotely to discuss best practice in their subject. With five talks on all manner of topics, it was a great way to kick off our 2024 Events programme.


John T Pullinger (keynote): Getting Sociology Students Thinking

"We need to think about preparing students for higher education... increasing student responsibility and independence is important" Matt Pinkett

"Alert to Challenges" from John T Pullinger's presentation

John Pullinger has taught A Level, HE and university foundation Sociology and is the author of a number of subject textbooks. His keynote focused on how to nurture students' subject interest - especially where more students are looking to choose psychology - to get them thinking about Sociology.

From a subject-specific perspective, this lies in getting students to move from the personal to the social, thinking about social influences, pressures and social structuring as factors influencing individual experiences. How do key past decisions impact on their life course? To what extent do unequal life chances influence opportunities.

Rather than diagnosing personal troubles at the individual level, there is merit in relating them to social forces originating in the social structure, and thus viewing them as public issues that require social intervention to help alleviate them.

"Sequencing Assignments / Assessments" from John T Pullinger's presentation

John's advice for the early stages of the Sociology course centres on clarity. Bite-sized assignments with individualised feedback is a good way to go - as well as a supportive classroom culture where misconceptions can be corrected gently. Multiple-choice quizzes and short essays are also a good way to assess students at the start of the course.

However, part of a post-16 teacher's job is to prepare students for higher education. At later stages of the course, it is vital for students to compare their writing back to their early work to assess the progress they have made across time. It may be worth considering how assignments could be implemented that offer students more choice (with increased individual responsibility), such as individual presentations and extended essays.


Matt Pinkett: Being a male ally - a guide from safe to stupid

The safe-stupid continuum from Matt Pinkett's presentation
"Virtue-signalling is the enemy to male allyship... boys will make mistakes and we need to coach them" Matt Pinkett

Matt is an English teacher first and foremost but offers expert insight into what it means to be a male ally - how boys can call out other boys when they are transgressing - from the conversations he has with students. Citing a recent study, Insights on Engaging Men and Boys in Creating a More Gender Equal Future in Canada, he shared five key tips to get boys on board with allyship:

  1. Meet men where they are at

  2. Create 'safe spaces'

  3. Support more male gender equality leaders to mentor other men and boys

  4. Exploit key settings and transition periods

  5. Embed a feminist and intersectional approach


Emma Sperring and Nikki Espiner: Meaningful and Manageable Assessment

Assessment guidance from Emma Sperring and Nikki Espiner's presentation
"Assessment is such a reflective thing. We're constantly checking where they are and it allows us to be reflective about what we've taught" Nikki Espiner

Emma and Nikki are Heads of Social Science and teach Sociology, Psychology, Law and Criminology - so they have a lot on their plates when it comes to assessment! How do they make assessment meaningful for their students with impact, whilst simultaneously taking care of the well-being of their department at a time when recruitment and retention are so difficult?

Some of the strategies they use in their classrooms to maintain the wellbeing-workload balance whilst preparing their cohorts in the best way possible include:

  • Live marking given over the shoulder rather than copious amounts of written marking

  • Mini-whiteboards for both lower-stakes quizzing and drafting longer essays with immediate feedback

  • Post-it plans to move students away from their notes and practise concise note-making skills

  • Self-assessment of key points, with students highlighting and annotating their own work before reviewing together

  • Essay questions done in class time and with tick sheets for staff with the most common feedback and actions

  • I Do, We Do, You Do to assess structure


Ed Brooks: Extra-curricular Trip Opportunities for Social Sciences and Humanities - Washington, D.C.

Common Issues from Ed Brooks' prsentation on running a trip to Washington, D.C.
"The Washington trip was akin to running several day trips in a row to different locations - some will have a guide, some will not" Ed Brooks

Ed is an Assistant Head at a state-boarding school in Norfolk with over a decade's experience of running school trips in the UK, Europe and beyond. This talk focused on his experiences running a trip to Washington, D.C. in October 2023. Ed discussed the background to the trip, the subject-specific rationale behind going to Washington, D.C., the differences between this trip and other trips, and the common issues teachers might face whilst running a trip like this.


Kim Constable - Using AI in the Teaching of Sociology

"Uses and Limitations of AI" from Kim Constable's presentation
"AI can't plan our lessons for us, despite what some of the websites tell us. It also won't write a top band answer for you, and it doesn't always give accurate answers" Kim Constable

It's been over a year since Chat GPT arrived on teachers' radars - and Kim has ben playing around with AI tools ever since! Kim discussed the websites she uses that utilise AI to help her teaching of Sociology.

The main use of AI tools is to provide up-to-date case studies - vital when textbooks can become rapidly out of date. They are also adept at generating starting points for planning, summaries of long texts, and comprehension questions, key term lists and glossaries. AI won't do your marking, but it can be a tool to improve your well-being and reduce your workload.


A huge thank you to Jodie Robert who was our host for the evening!

Missed TTR Sociology and intrigued by the talks? Catch up with the full event on demand here.

Our next subject-specific events are below -if your subject isn't listed, get in touch at and let us know what you'd like covered on TTR!

23 March 2024: Teachers Talk History - online (sign up link here)

20 April 2024: Teachers Talk Science - face-to-face in Manchester (link to free tickets here)

8 June 2024: Teachers Talk MFL - online (sign up link here)

29 June 2024: Teachers Talk Religious Studies - face-to-face in Manchester

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