At the beginning of semester one I was very apprehensive about starting university and didn’t know what to expect. I was especially nervous about the Working Together module as 50% of the assessment was a group presentation and I was worried that there may be clashes or I may not get along with everyone. My nerves, however, had calmed after our first group session as I realised everyone was in the same boat as I was. I was rather sceptical at the beginning of this module as it wasn’t specific to Primary Education therefore I didn’t know how the theories I was being taught were going to develop my practice as a teacher. However, after our agency visit and creating our presentation I realised how the theories could be applied to all of the three professions and that they were in fact extremely relevant to professional practice.
In terms of our workload last semester I now realise how naïve I was in terms of underestimating how much work was required. I was extremely nervous about writing my first essay as I had never done anything in this format before. I now realise the importance of keeping up to date with reading and additional tasks and how much it helps with academic essays and I feel if I had engaged more with the reading list I would’ve produced a better essay. Also, after receiving our grades for last semester I have taken on board all the feedback I was given that will help me in the future and I now have a better grasp on how to approach writing academic essays.
My semester one at the university has, overall, been very positive. I have made some great new friends that I know will be able to support me over the next four years and I look forward to completing my first placement in semester two.
As part of our first workshop in the “Values” module we were given a resource task. We were split into five groups and were each given an envelope with a range of resources inside. We were asked to create a ‘Student Pack’ designed to help new students at the university using the different resources were given. We then had to present our ‘Student Pack’ to the rest of the group.
I was part of Group 2, in our envelope we were given a wide variety of resources and thus were able to create a lot of content for our ‘Student Pack’. We included items such as a bus timetable, discount vouchers from local shops, recipe ideas, a map of the campus. Derek was being very supportive during this task, giving us a lot of positive feedback and encouragement, at one point he even came round the group to offer us all a biscuit. As the task went on, however, it became clear that we were one of the only groups being given this ‘special treatment’. Groups 4 and 5 were given little or no attention and received no praise from Derek, during the presentations it also became clear that they had significantly fewer resources to work with than we did. I feel this is important in representing society, there are people who live very privileged lives, who want for nothing and there are also people who have very little and can barely afford the basics. In the classroom there will be children from different backgrounds, some less fortunate than others but as a teacher you need to give every single child the same opportunities to succeed.
Upon reflection, I did not even realise that the other groups were at a disadvantage as our group was so focused on completing the task to the best of our ability. We were extremely motivated and the praise we received from Derek really encouraged us to do well. Groups 4 and 5 said they felt unmotivated and actually thought there was no point in putting effort into the task as Derek was not paying attention to them. I found this very interesting as people can often adopt this attitude if they are being ignored or put down when in fact they have the potential to do great things. It also goes to show that you don’t actually realise the value of things until you see how little others have. This really showed me how important it is not to have favourites as it can really affect a person’s motivation and feeling of self-worth, you must treat every child equally in the classroom and even a small bit of encouragement can go a long way.
This input was really helpful in demonstrating some of the issues that take place in the classroom, the way Derek was treating the different groups showed great favouritism and inequality, something that, in teaching especially, should be avoided at all costs. This input is something I will remember and the lessons I have learned I will think about while on placement and in my future career.