Reflections on Placement

For the last two weeks I have been on placement in a local Primary School. During this placement I had the pleasure of observing a Primary 3/4 class, I really enjoyed this experience as it gave me a feel for … Continue reading

For the last two weeks I have been on placement in a local Primary School. During this placement I had the pleasure of observing a Primary 3/4 class, I really enjoyed this experience as it gave me a feel for what it will be like being a Primary School teacher, it also allowed me to reflect on my skills and also consider aspects of my communication I need to work on.

STRENGTH

I believe one of my strengths to be how I demonstrated my active listening to the children through kneeling down, nodding my head and asking further questions to the statements they would give me. I believe this is a strength of mine as I had a peer observation where it was highlighted that a strength of mine was kneeling down to pupils when I spoke to them, the teacher I was with also complimented how I would always ask questions after a child told me something hence why I think my demonstration of active listening through forms of verbal and non-verbal communication is a key strength of mine. I took a group of Primary 3s for reading and I would always give them 5 minuets before we started to talk about what the book was about and I  would ensure I nodded my head when they were speaking so they knew I was listening to them, once they were done I’d encourage more of a discussion by asking more questions about what they just told me so they knew I’d listened and I’d get more responses.

AREA OF MOST PROGRESS

I would say I have progressed in the amount of times I say words such as ‘um’ and ‘eh’. Doing the story telling task I got helpful feedback from my peers that I would do this a lot and it came off as though I wasn’t as confident and it looked unprofessional. The feedback from that helped me when I was on placement as I noticed I did this a lot less, the first week on placement I was still saying those phrase regularly but the more I noticed it the more I stopped it and by the second week I had said them a lot less. I was reading to the Primary 3s again and I messed up a word, usually I would’ve been like “oh, eh I meant…” but I noticed this and just paused and re-read the word over correctly.

AREA REQUIRING PROGRESS

The area I need to work on the most is my volume. I would say I do talk at an adequate volume most of the time but I can get quiet. When the class volume starts to pick up I can’t match it or talk above it. My peer noticed this as well as I did, I had to take a group to another room to go on the computers and they began to get very noisy and I tried to tell them to quieten down but I didn’t raise my voice enough so they continued to talk, I did go  over and tell the nosier 3 pupils to lower the volume and then the class were able to hear me. Volume is a challenge for me as I don’t want to shout so I get too anxious to raise my voice slightly when I know it needs to be raised.

ACTION PLAN

I plan to develop my strength by ensuring I keep on doing this when I am able to. I also plan to read more things aloud to practice hearing my voice aloud and playing around with it so I can hear how loud I can go without shouting, reading things like books aloud will also help me to continue to progress in saying ‘uh’,’eh’ and ’em’ less often.

EXPECTATIONS

I did complete and get experience of everything I was expected to do. I managed to achieve these expectations pretty easily without many obstacles, one obstacle would perhaps be with regards to getting information for my sheets as we had 4 maths tasks to complete and due to show rehearsals and mass my class missed a lot of their maths time, I did observe some maths lessons and had enough information to complete them but it was a slight obstacle. Another obstacle for me was the staff room, I spoke to some teachers easily but others I found it harder to talk to, I would try to hold a conversation but a lot of the staff room conversations were about rooms and rehearsals and who is doing what so it was harder to be in the discussion as I didn’t work there and know those things, but generally I would find things to talk to the staff about, however by the second week it got easier as I was beginning to know how the school worked and the different classes. The class teacher I was with introduced me to staff which really helped me fulfill the expectation of talking to staff as more of them had an idea of who I was and why I was there and felt comfortable talking to me.

Reflection on Placement

Over the last two weeks I have had one of the most rewarding experiences out on placement and it has given me tools and skills to work with as I […]

Over the last two weeks I have had one of the most rewarding experiences out on placement and it has given me tools and skills to work with as I further develop through my time in my course. The school I attended was very warm and welcoming, with teachers that were willing to help me achieve the most out of the short time I was there for. During my time in the school I got to observe a couple of different classes but was mainly based in Primary 7 and Primary 1. This was valuable as it allowed me to see the contrasting teaching methods used at different ages and levels.

 

Strengths

Before starting at university, I had previous experience working with children from the age of 3-16. This helped when entering the classroom as I was aware that I had to change my level of vocabulary to suit the child’s level to ensure I was not confusing them by using words they did not recognise or understand. Adding to this some children needed words enunciated more than others for example, in the infant school, so they could recognise their sounds and letters. I furthermore varied the pace I would speak at, for example Primary 1 children need some extra time to process what you are saying so I spoke slower than I usually would to allow them that time.

 

Area of most progress

One area I believe I progressed most in during the weeks of placement was building the confidence to speak to teachers and in front a whole class. Before starting placement I was nervous about having to speak with the Head Teacher and other teachers in the school. However, once I had settled in after the first day I surprised myself as I became more and more confident in speaking to everyone in the staff room and in front of all the children.

 

Area requiring progress

When reflecting back on conversations I had during my time in placement I would say I stuttered quite a bit and used words “like” and “um” a lot to fill in gaps. This is something that I must be aware of from now on as it can look unprofessional in a work setting. Also, I noticed that when I was not doing anything with my hands I did not know what to do with them so ended up fidgeting which could convey as a sign of uncertainty in what I am doing or saying.

 

Action Plan

To tackle my stuttering, I should try and take my time while speaking and be very aware to use other words or use silence instead of “like” and “um”. While tackling this I should also research different ways to stand while presenting or teaching to see if I can discover the most comfortable way to stand whilst not fidgeting.

 

Overall, I had a great experience at placement and it has allowed me to discover my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to develop these for future placements.

Communication in other environments

On Monday the 24th September, we had our situated communication workshop outside! We were put into groups and had to build a den which required everyone to have good communication skills. Group and leadership Our group didn’t have a set leader, we all had an opportunity to show some leadership skills. This meant that everyone […]

On Monday the 24th September, we had our situated communication workshop outside! We were put into groups and had to build a den which required everyone to have good communication skills.

Group and leadership

  • Our group didn’t have a set leader, we all had an opportunity to show some leadership skills. This meant that everyone felt included as we all contributed and expressed our ideas with the group. I really enjoy working with other people so i found this task very fun, but a challenging aspect of the task was that sometimes we weren’t taking the time to listen to each other, as they were so many different thoughts and ideas.

Explaining

  • I think that our group was good at explaining because of our effective communication. We all had very good verbal and non verbal communication and this was shown through everyone speaking clearly and using open body language so that we all felt comfortable with each other when speaking out in the group. We were all aware of our role within the group. One improvement would be to plan more effectively who was explaining what for our presentation so that everyone could explain a part.

Environment

  • Presenting and working outdoors had an impact on  all of our communication as we had to block out the surrounding noises such as nature, cars, other groups, in order to be focused and listen to each other. To ensure we were heard by all, we had to project our voices more so than we would in a classroom and show that we were listening by using eye contact with everyone.

Negotiation 

  • Our group was fairly successful at  negotiating with the other group. Both groups made compromises and came to a decision we were all happy with.

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 …

Continue reading “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 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