Two Week Placement

Throughout my two week placement, I was given the opportunity to experience all of the primary classes including some composite classes and the nursery. I enjoyed this as it was … Continue reading

Throughout my two week placement, I was given the opportunity to experience all of the primary classes including some composite classes and the nursery. I enjoyed this as it was a chance for me to gain knowledge of the different levels of teaching.

During placement I realised that one of my strengths is that I am able to change my tone and pitch when talking to different year groups. For example, when talking to primary one I changed my tone to suit their age range to ensure they could understand me and interact with me. I felt more confident when I was working with the younger school as I felt like they interacted with me more. However, in the upper school I had to completely change the way I interacted with the pupils to ensure I wasn’t their ‘friend’ but also wasn’t patronising towards them. Surprisingly, I enjoyed working with all age ranges of pupils as over time I felt more confident when changing my tone.

One area of my communication I need to develop is controlling when I say “eh”, “like” and “em.” Often when answering pupils questions I was inclined to use filler words while thinking of what to say. I also used filler words if I felt I was in an awkward situation or felt slightly uncomfortable with the situation. For example, when talking to a professional I almost felt like if I didn’t know what to say so I used filler words to get myself out of the situation. On my school experience form from the head teacher, It was stated that I am not very confident when talking to members of staff therefore, this is something I need to work on.

Overall, I enjoyed placement and loved the experience. I have acknowledged what I need to work on and have identified strategies that will help me.

 

Reflections on Placement

Having just come back from my first two weeks Primary School experience I can honestly say it was informative, motivating, enjoyable, exhausting and an eye opener in respect of what life as a teacher really involves. I had the opportunity … Continue reading

Having just come back from my first two weeks Primary School experience I can honestly say it was informative, motivating, enjoyable, exhausting and an eye opener in respect of what life as a teacher really involves. I had the opportunity to experience a range of classes, from P2-P7, this gave me the chance to learn an enormous amount in respect of the variety of teaching styles, the different levels of learning, as well as see the struggles faced by some children. I tried to take away as much knowledge from this experience as I possibly could.

Strength
I have always thought I was a good communicator with a bubbly, enthusiastic personality. This was highlighted as a strength during my peer observation, and from the teachers I worked with during my 2 weeks placement. When engaging with the students I would listen attentively, encourage and provide support where it was needed. I was interested to hear what the pupils had to say no matter their age, I found that P7 pupils appreciated your attention and assistance just as much as the younger pupils. Working with children either 1-2-1 or within small groups gives me a real sense of purpose and seeing them interested and wanting to learn fuels my enthusiasm.

Area for Development
I need to work on my pace and tone, I am aware that I speed up my speech when I’m both nervous and excited. This was highlighted during my peer observation and I when doing my own reflections. I need to be able to control my pace and tone more effectively, to adapt it in different situations and depending on the ages of the pupils I am working with. For example, when talking with younger children I need to slow down to make sure I am fully understood.

Action Plan

I need to develop my knowledge/strategies around varying my pace and tone to find out what will work for me. I feel this will help me to be more focused and aware of when I need to alter my pace/tone. This will help me to manage situations where I am nervous.

Reflection on Placement

Reflections on Placement. On the 29th of October I embarked on my first placement as a BA Education student. Throughout my two weeks within the school I gained valuable skills and learned a lot from class teachers. I also became … Continue reading

Reflections on Placement.

On the 29th of October I embarked on my first placement as a BA Education student. Throughout my two weeks within the school I gained valuable skills and learned a lot from class teachers. I also became more aware of current education strategies and how they work in practice. I feel this has been a very rewarding experience and has made my determination to reach my aspirations of becoming a teacher become even greater.

Skills

I feel that on placement my communication skills lay in varying my tone and pitch to adapt to the situation or the individual who I was talking to. I was able to vary my tone in order to interest pupils in the tasks that I was leading and I was able to control the group through changing my tone again if I needed to provide a clear instruction or get the pupils to focus and listen carefully when they may have been drifting off task. When praising pupils my tone of voiced changed to one of joy and when supporting pupils my volume lowered in order to make myself more approachable and I used a caring tone of voice in order to show my willingness to attend to the pupils needs.

Area of Most Progress

I feel that my time on placement really helped me to develop my confidence in communication with the adults who worked within the school. At the beginning of placement, I was nervous and didn’t tend to join in on much conversation between the other members of staff that I had not yet been introduced to. I feel that the majority of my conversation within the first couple days was with other students within the school and although I was communicating with the other members of staff it was only very little amounts.  However, within a short space of time, I began to feel less nervous and got to know all members of staff through engaging in conversation. All staff members were very welcoming during my time on placement and I feel this contributed greatly to me overcoming this nervousness in such a short period of time.

Area Requiring Progress

I feel that the area which I still need to work on is one particular aspect of my body language. I naturally tend to stand with my legs crossed. This could convey myself negatively due to making me seem less approachable to both pupils and staff as my body language is closed. It may also convey nervousness or convey me in a way that I’m not willing to participate and therefore is an area which I wish to develop in.

Action Plan

In order to overcome my area for improvement I am going to focus on becoming more aware of how I am standing in comfortable situations within my day to day life and try to undo the habit of crossing my legs. Hopefully, this will help me to omit this fully.

Independent Study Task – 22/10/2018

This week, our independent study task involved watching a few videos about feedback and communication skills in the classroom to help us improve upon the way we used these. Evaluation and feedback are very important aspects of teaching. They are effective tools for improving teaching practice and pupils’ classroom performance. In order to move forward …

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This week, our independent study task involved watching a few videos about feedback and communication skills in the classroom to help us improve upon the way we used these.

Evaluation and feedback are very important aspects of teaching. They are effective tools for improving teaching practice and pupils’ classroom performance. In order to move forward and improve we must first identify the areas which need to be developed.

Self-Evaluation and Receiving Criticism
One teacher from Iowa in the US records all of her lessons in order to reflect upon her teaching. She acknowledges that there is a difference between how teachers view their practice and the reality of it. The views of teachers themselves, students and other professionals may all differ, illustrating the importance of using recordings, collegial/peer assessment and student surveys to ensure comments are received from these various different perspectives.

Another video also highlighted that getting the opinion of more than one person can be useful as each person may see things differently. It is also helpful for two colleagues to assess one person as this can be used to ensure that each of the observers’ assessments are in line with their organisation’s policy.

Giving Criticism
According to Cottrell constructive criticism should be:
• Sensitive
• Current
• Balanced
• Honest
• Productive
• Selective
• Helpful
• Realistic
• Precise
• Kind
• Beneficial

One of the most important aspects highlighted here is the need for balance in criticism. Criticism should be neither entirely positive or entirely negative. In any task, there are always things that people have done well and always ways that things can be improved. One issue I have always had when giving peer feedback is being so conscious of not coming across as mean or nasty when discussing aspects that could be improved upon that the point is missed entirely. However, points for improvement are one of the most important parts of feedback as teachers should constantly be re-evaluating and developing their practice and feedback shows them where to focus their efforts.

There is a clear difference between feedback and judgement. Feedback, as highlighted through all of the individuals questioned in the videos, should always contain positives and should be seen as a starting point for improvement rather than a means of criticising.

Feedback is important but as is self-confidence and kindness.

Placement experience

2 weeks ago, I nervously walked into school for my first teaching placement. Little did I know this would be the quickest and most valuable 2 weeks. I got to work with a lovely primary 3 class. Who helps me … Continue reading

2 weeks ago, I nervously walked into school for my first teaching placement. Little did I know this would be the quickest and most valuable 2 weeks. I got to work with a lovely primary 3 class. Who helps me learn and also gave me some lovely pieces of art to take home, who knew I had such a red face. Most of all through this placement I learnt areas of strength in my communication, some that I didn’t even realise and also made clear to me areas I can develop upon.

I got to work with groups closely and was able to identify key communication skills to interact with the children. But also the communication skills I could apply throughout with other teachers. This experience was valuable to me in the way I could see the teachers use their interactions to help benefit the children’s learning. As I observed and interacted I was able to realise the skills I needed to use to aid me in becoming a strong communicator within my teaching role.

Strengths

An area of strength I quickly became aware of my communication skills I used to interact with small groups, during a maths lesson. I was able to assist 2 groups at a time and have the ability to apply the appropriate amount of help to the children, looking at the different problems they required assistance with. I found I could use my initiative to go over to the groups and use effective and clear communication. I spoke at an adequate volume and used language that was appropriate for the stage of the children. Within this area, my body language was used in a positive stance and using eye contact to be able to also communicate my non-verbal communications to the children. During this maths time with the groups I found I could effectively use ‘thinking time’ to be able to help the children come to the answer themselves. I was there to support and make use of the strategies to lead them to an answer. I was able to apply this help through listening to the teachers exposition on the learning intentions for the children that day.

Areas of most progress

Areas I felt I quickly adapted to and made progress with was my interactions with individual children. I feel I learnt quickly to look at the values the children held as a school: Kind, resilient, respectful, confident and included. Through this placement, I learnt to use appropriate language and praise to effectively communicate and make the children feel valued. I used this to acknowledge the children’s efforts and also to promote positive behaviours. My positive choice of words such as ‘well done’ or giving them a simple ‘good job,’ helped them feel accomplished and respected. I also found I was strong in using enthusiasm, during free play time, to value the children’s confidence and respect their efforts. They would show me their creations and I would interact with them and making sure I was giving them the appropriate attention.

 

 

 

Areas requiring progress

My confidence is always a main struggle of mine. I find I sometimes don’t have strong communication with other adults. Lacking the confidence to ask questions or speak up on my ideas. This is an area I felt I got a bit better with on placement, but still the area of my communication that needs the most work. I find it easier communicating to the children but there is always still the nagging doubt if I am communicating the strategy correctly, or if the language choice appropriate to the stage. I know this will come over time and it will improve with practice and experiences. I try to get involved as much as possible but I feel that on occasions my confidence holds me back.

Action plan

My next steps I need to look at include, communicating to the class and creating my own lessons. This will help me look at the language I need to use and making sure my body language is positive to the whole class not just small groups or individuals. I need to also build on my group work and communication to my adult peers. From teachers to parents alike. Being able to ask questions on things I am unsure of but also sharing my own ideas. I know that group work within university will help with this but also my daily life at work or on my placements over the next few years.

Communication in Other Environments

Group and leadership There wasn’t just one leader, we split into rough pairs and took different parts of the shelter each. Everybody contributed to a part of the den. When someone came up with an idea it was discussed with other members of the group and, if it was decided it was an idea we …

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Group and leadership

There wasn’t just one leader, we split into rough pairs and took different parts of the shelter each. Everybody contributed to a part of the den. When someone came up with an idea it was discussed with other members of the group and, if it was decided it was an idea we would use, that person would take control of doing that section and making it work. For the most part this worked well for our group. However, at times people were overshadowed by other peoples ideas or were not heard because of all of us talking at once. At these times, someone would step up and say something letting everyone get their ideas and thoughts heard. I think, looking back on the day, the hardest part was communicating exactly what everyone was doing. As there wasn’t an overall leader it was sometimes difficult to understand what everyone was trying to achieve and who was trying to achieve the other challenges we were given. Overall, I think we functioned very well as a team.

Explaining

The group that was explaining their den were slightly unclear with their explanation of how they built it but clearly put across their overall concept of their den. They explained what their initial idea of their den was and then went onto add some imaginary aspects (underground levels). Their explanation of their den was clear because they were able to “simplify [their] complex idea” Hargie, O. (2011)¹ and put across clearly and concisely what they had been thinking and discussing. However, their explanation of how they built it was unclear. This was mainly due to us running out of time there for it was rushed and not completed. Overall, this means that the planning of both groups was not very good because we allowed time to run away from us, but the presentation was good and all other steps that were needed to explain their ideas to us were done.

Environment

The physical environment didn’t impact  that much on our communication, but I could see that if we had different weather (i.e strong winds, rain or snow) then our communication could have been hindered. The main changes I noticed in the way I communicated in an outdoor environment instead of in the classroom was the way I tended to demonstrate things more rather than just explaining how I was going to do it. I also noticed that I tended to speak quieter and made more eye contact. I think the reason I spoke quieter was that I was more aware of the fact that I was only speaking to a small group rather than a whole class. It was not that difficult to communicate above any natural sounds because it was a rather quiet spot. However, if there was more people around, more wildlife or more sounds from the wind or rain then there might have been some difficult in communicating. To ease any difficulty the speaker and the listener would have to maintain good eye contact, make sure they were standing fairly close to each other and make sure they are able to hear each other as they talk. The environment didn’t distract me that much but I can see how it would distract other people as it is a very beautiful location. Primary children, in particular, could become very distracted in an environment like this. In order to avoid distraction I would allow time at the start of the session to allow them to explore and then get them to settle down for the task we were out their for.

Negotiation

The negotiation we were tasked with was to get someone to come and help us for five minutes, for free. This did not work very well. We were able to get someone to help for a short amount of time (less than one minute) but were not able to get anyone to help for a longer period of time. This was because of the fact that we were not offering anything in return, it was also partly due to the fact that the people that we asked we joking around and did not want us to complete our task. It was very difficult to try and negotiate with someone for their time when you were not offering anything in return. Most people will not do a task for nothing. I think this is something you have to keep in mind when working with anyone, especially children. You have to be willing to have a give and take relationship and be able to negotiate with children. There will be times when you have to be firm and not be able to negotiate but there will be times when you have to be able to have an open discussion and negotiation with children.

 

The communication, explanation and negotiation skills I have learned through this are ones that are essential in classrooms, indoors and outdoors. Without these skills classrooms would not be successful environments and it would be harder to function in classrooms where these skills are not being implemented by teachers and students alike.

 


1 – Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication. 5th Edition. London:        Routlege

Communicating in Other Environments – A Reflective Journal

During our outdoor learning session, our section was split into four teams given the task to create a fort that can stand by itself, has at least three sides and can have everyone in the group sit inside. Group and … Continue reading

During our outdoor learning session, our section was split into four teams given the task to create a fort that can stand by itself, has at least three sides and can have everyone in the group sit inside.

Group and Leadership

When completing our task, I found that I emerged as one of the natural leaders of the group. We did not formally choose our leaders I believe I was at the forefront of delegating and making sure everyone was able to speak. I was actively trying to include every member of the group in both saying ideas and physically making our fort “Casa De Tipi”. Looking back on the day the most challenging thing was physically getting started. Our group overcame this by voicing as many ideas as we could and filtering down from there until one of the group members said the design of a tipi, which would fit all the criteria of the task. Then we were able to start and build from there.

Explaining

I, unfortunately, was looking after our fort while the rest of my team was getting the explanation of the building of someone else’s fort. So instead I will reflect on how I explained our fort to another group. I explained how we constructed our fort from concept to final product. I added an entertaining flair to it to keep it from feeling purely fact-based; however, I could’ve been more thorough in explaining our preplanning because the other team had to probe to find out how we got started. Other than that I felt I was articulate and spoke well, being sure to keep my tone pleasant and intonation varied to keep my listeners engaged, thus making myself clear.

Environment

Although the physical environment didn’t impact our team’s ability to communicate, I do understand we were lucky with the weather we had. Had there been strong wind or rain I could see where issues of miscommunication could happen. In the future, I’ll be able to use the skills I learned from my classmates. The main change to how I will communicate in an outdoor environment is being physical. I noticed as we were sharing ideas members of my team would physically show what they were meaning as well as saying the idea, this aided in cementing what a group member meant. Looking at this specific idea and expanding the concept further, had the weather impacted how our team was able to communicate I would be sure to use non-verbal communication to its fullest. Making use of gesture and proximity, making sure to be an adequate distance from the group and putting more physicality than usual to convey ideas more explicitly. As a listener, I would be sure to engage actively with whoever is speaking. In an outdoor environment this, for me, would mean being near the speaker. Also, I would be sure to maintain decent eye contact with the speaker to ensure I catch as much information as I can. In this particular exercise, I didn’t notice any distraction for myself but could see the environment distracting others as it was a picturesque part of the university grounds. Although taking a minute to enjoy the surroundings isn’t a bad thing and we should appreciate nature, I can understand if this was with a group of primary children finding that balance of appreciation before it becomes a distraction a tough challenge. To overcome this, I would be sure always to be iterating to the learners what they should be doing and avoid mentioning things they shouldn’t be, so it’s not an even an idea to them.

Negotiation

During the task, our team had to negotiate to acquire something from another team that seemed essential to the structure of their fort. We were successful but had difficulty with this acquisition. The main obstacle was that most teams had an emotional attachment to their creations and thus were less than keen on parting with anything, nevermind something essential to the structure. I took the lead on negotiations as I felt I could be the most persuasive. Another team was scoping out the others and asked if they could have something from us. I was using a classic business negotiation tactic of “If I do this will you do that?” this structure keeps control with me but lets the other party think they’ve had input in the agreement. In the end, we were able to acquire the block in question for our cardboard walkway, in my opinion, a worthwhile trade. The success of our negotiation was down to having receptive other parties willing to listen and counter-negotiate, had they not been willing to do either we would’ve very likely failed.

Reflections

To summarise this experience was eye-opening and a great way to entice engagement from my peers and I. I plan to take aspects of this, active listening, interpersonal communication, negotiation, and general outdoor learning and try to incorporate these into a classroom environment when I am delivering the curriculum.

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First placement in October 2018

Coming up to my first school placement in October I am looking forward to be able to gain even more insight into what being a teacher will be like. I am hoping that from this placement I will be able to identify my current strengths in a classroom environment but also be able to identify …

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Coming up to my first school placement in October I am looking forward to be able to gain even more insight into what being a teacher will be like. I am hoping that from this placement I will be able to identify my current strengths in a classroom environment but also be able to identify any weaknesses that I have so that I can work on them before going on placement in second year. I am excited to find out what school I will be going to and finding out who I will be going on placement with, but I am also nervous as we don’t find out where we are going until the week before placement starts. I am interested to see the different teaching styles that the teacher I work with will use and also how they control the class and effectively deal with each individual students needs within the classroom as there are many. Overall, I am eager to go on placement and am excited to learn lots more about working within a classroom environment but also helping and communicating effectively with all of the pupils within the classroom and their class teacher.

Year ahead

Looking forward with excitement and a small dose nervousness about all the new things that lie ahead of me. My hopes are to learn from the first placement about what I need to work on and what I can actually … Continue reading

Looking forward with excitement and a small dose nervousness about all the new things that lie ahead of me. My hopes are to learn from the first placement about what I need to work on and what I can actually say is a strength. The unknown will change to the known but the learning will continue. I feel I have learned so much so far and it has only been a week. I go home happy feeling accomplished in what I have done and wanting to continue that learning every minute.

Over the years I think I have learnt a lot about myself. Learning who I am and how strong I can be. I have seen the world and I have been in the school environments. I know that teaching is what I want to do. Picturing myself having my own class has been there since i was 18. 8 years later here I am.

I hope it four years time I will look back and see the change in myself and with my knowledge. Learning the theory and the practices I need.  The nervousness and learning will still be there but I will know what I can do and what I have the power to achieve.