Category Archives: 1.1 Social Justice

“So long, it’s been good to know ya!” – Week 8 in Stuttgart Reflection

Wednesday was my last day at ISS and it has been an emotional rollercoaster this final week.

Monday and Tuesday were the last full days in school where the students could work on their exhibition because Wednesday would be the night where they showcased all the learning they have conducted over the 7 weeks that has all lead up to this moment.

Monday was focused on going around each student and ensuring they had everything prepared and ready for Wednesday: display board, artistic component, mathematical piece, an action relating to their global issue and their speech prepared and ready for presenting all of the work they have conducted.

Usage of Technology – I was tasked with recording some students talking about their exhibition experience and then editing it all together in iMovie to present it at the beginning of the Exhibition Evening on Wednesday.

Tuesday was then time to get the students practising in front of an audience – their classmates and teachers. We got some volunteers that wanted to go first to get an almost dress rehearsal of what their exhibition would be like Wednesday evening, as each student was assigned a classroom in which they would present in front of their parents and their mentors (who would be assessing their performance through observations of their presentation). It was great for me to see all the presentations in their almost-final state because on the night I would only get the chance to see the other students that were in the same room as the son of my host family (there were normally 3-to-4 students per room). This method of practising also got the students receiving feedback from their peers; what was successful in their presentation and what did they need to work on in order to perfect their display of learning.

Amongst all of this exhibition chaos, the teachers and I were planning towards the next topic of work once the exhibition is concluded.

Wednesday night saw the exhibition commence in the AULA (the same ginormous assembly hall that was used on the multicultural evening and the assemblies throughout the year) where the Lower School Principal introduced the purpose of the evening. He gave a compelling speech that really interlinked with the core learning that I have gained from this placement: teaching and learning is constantly evolving. “Knowledge is everywhere. It is no longer just for the elite in society… For teachers, lecturers or scholars… Teaching has had a drastic change in the past 25 years to link with the world in which we live in today”. He also gave a strong analogy of what it would be like if a teacher from the 1950s had been transported to the night of the exhibition and saw all of the research and learning that the children in Grade 5 had conducted. It would be startling for them.

Then, I was starstruck by what came next.

“We also need to do something special for a guest that has been with us for the past 2 months…” I knew that this concerned me “we would like to give a special goodbye to a young aspiring teacher from Scotland who has been working and learning with your children throughout this learning process”

The same goodbye song that I had heard in my first week at the school for the students that were leaving was now being performed for me:

“So long, its been good to know ya, but you’ve got to be moving along”

I was then gifted with International School of Stuttgart T-shirts to show that I am now a strong part of the school. All of the teachers have told me that I need to come back in the future and I really feel a part of the community at ISS, much as the same way some of the alumni students that have returned on a few occasions; the doors are always open at ISS for those that have been a part of it in whatever shape or form that has emphasised the school’s internationality.

The Entrance to the AULA – the frames on stage were another project the children did during their specialist art time. It is an exhibition tradition that the students create a decorated frame that includes a photo of them with their mentor. This is then presented to the mentor as a special thank you for all their support during the process. Many teachers have amassed a collection of frames over the years.

Once the introductory presentation had concluded (my exhibition reflection video was also played), the lower school co-ordinator announced there was a change to the programme of events that evening. A few students had approached him during the school day to ask if they could perform a song that they had composed themselves during their music lesson that day. The lower school co-ordinator said it best: “why not? This shows the students are being real risk -takers” 

Reflective, open-minded, risk-takers, caring, principled, balanced, knowledgable, inquirers, communicators and thinkers – these are all the attributes within the learner profile.

The Stage is Ready – an example of one of the classrooms being set up for the exhibition presentations. The students placed all their work on the tables provided at the front – i.e. the books they used for research, their display boards, their artwork and anything else they wanted to display that was centred around their topic.

These students performed the song on the stage and then the parents were told to head to the rooms where their children had been preparing for their presentations.

Once the presentations were complete and all the questions were asked, the parents and mentors got a chance to partake in an “open-house” scenario where all the doors were opened and people could walk around and see all of the topics and ask more questions to all of the grade 5 students. They would not be required to present again, however, this opportunity allowed for them to really show their learning in a more relaxed manner after a somewhat stressful presentation beforehand. It was amazing to see the joy around the rooms – it was over, all the determination and conviction to succeed had been fulfilled that night.

I said my goodbyes to all of the staff members and parents that I had become acquainted with during my time at ISS and I was once again reminded that, if I ever needed anything, the team at ISS were only an email away.

We drove back home on a high that night; the youngest son was elated that all his hard work had come all together for his excellent presentation in his third language of English (which, he had only been studying now for just over 6 months) and I was somewhat content with the fact that it was my last day at the school. It did not feel like a final goodbye, however. I know that the staff at ISS and the students too would welcome me back with open arms if the chance ever arrises in the future of my professional career.

Overall, I look upon this final weekly reflection with a sense of wonderment. Where has the time gone? It has went by so quickly and yet, I cannot remember my former self at the same time. I have gained so much personally and professionally both from ISS and the day-to-day ongoings of my host family.

I really have accomplished what I set out to do and that was to:

  • Improve my language competency in German – I can now understand larger volumes of spoken language in conversation and I can also interact with day-to-day scenarios far greater than I could before. I have also been able to support beginners of German during lessons at ISS but I have also witnessed the skills and competencies of mother tongue speakers of German and the high calibre of language that can be achieved from children of a young age. How this relates to a scottish setting is that I now know that immersion is key to language development and that children of EAL should not be undermined in their capabilities of language acquisition. Interwoven within the language understanding, I have also been able to understand more of the culture of Germany with my host family. History of Kirchheim, the Fruhlingsfest beer festivals, the roads of Germany and so many more components that make up the culture of both Stuttgart and Kirchheim unter Teck have been really unpicked by myself during my time here. I have submerged myself as much as I could during my time here.
  • I have learned so much about the PYP at ISS and how it relates to the entirety of the International Baccalaureate system across the world in international schools. Not only have I gained firsthand insight surrounding the ongoings in an international school environment myself and reflected on them, I have also had opportunities to have lessons that relate to the IB myself across the grades. It has really made me reflect on what it means to be a teacher because the systems are quite alien when compared with the Scottish system. I can see both major positives and some negatives in the practices and curriculum structure, showing a criticality forming for my ongoing professional development.
  • I have seen so many strategies used by practically all the practitioners at ISS. I am very happy I planned with the lower school principal to divide my time across all grade levels because it allowed for me to both observe and work within classroom environments that were unique to the particular practitioner that was in charge of them. I have also seen the whole progression of the PYP education system right from the nest through to grade 5 before the students make their way to the middle school programme.

Goodbye ISS! – I had to take one final photo of the front of the school as we were leaving the exhibition evening.

I can now share my opinions more confidently, partly because I now have a more structure opinion surrounding education with this experience, and I feel as though I will take more risks and be confident about those risks. If someone had told me I have: survived an entire week alone in Germany, driven over 2000 miles across “Autobahnen und Straßen”, taught across all levels in an international school environment and have experienced cultures of Germany including seeing historical sights, taking public transport and partaking in the beer festivals festivities I would have laughed. These are only snippets of what I have accomplished and I am glad I have this blog as documentation for the learning I have done.

It has been amazing.

The Multi-Cultural Evening at ISS

On Friday (4th of May 2018), ISS held its yearly event known as the Multi-Cultural Evening. I had been waiting for this day with anticipated joy because so many people had told me in the run up to it that it was a night that could not be missed at ISS!

What the multi-cultural evening is meant to represent is that the International School of Stuttgart is, as it is appropriately named, an international environment that celebrates its differences on an equal playing field. It is also a reminder to all the students that are part of ISS that they can both celebrate themselves and their peers.

There is a seat at the table for everyone.

Each nation’s table had their own menu on offer to show people what sort of foods are found from their home country

The night began with the school’s jazz band playing the many guests, students and staff into the large assembly hall called the Aula (assembly hall) and then we were all welcomed by the school’s director, Tim Kelley, who started with a profound speech that gave the mission statement of the entire night as a whole: “This is what the world looks like and this is what we want the world to feel like. To be inclusive of all and to be able to celebrate all our differences together”. The message really lasted with me because it is the core essence that I have felt whilst being at the school for these past 2 months. Everyone, no matter their background, is encompassing of one another and we rejoice in our practice through the similarities and differences in languages, cultures and nationalities. I even believe that, because we get to celebrate the other cultures of our peers, we then begin to really have a bigger reflection on our own cultures. This placement has made me proud to be Scottish and to hold onto my traditions and be able to show them to the world in an environment where everyone is equal in merit.

The lower school children took part in a parade to show the different countries that they were from. There were children from Brazil, Cambodia, Croatia, France, Germany, UK, Sweden, America, Russia, Turkey and so many more. Internationality is interwoven into the community of the school; people from around the world are part of this community of globalism and ISS has a responsibility to ensure that that community is welcoming.

This year had a slight change from the previous years in that there was now a competition for who had the best decorated table (each country gets to host a table where they display their traditions and prepare food from their home country for people to try) amongst the participating countries that had prepared their traditional delicacies. India was crowned the winner and rightfully so; not only was their table decorated in Indian art, but they themselves came in the most beautiful traditional attire in so many different variations of colours and embroidered designs.

The Winners of the Night – Some of the Indian community of the school onstage accepting their award. They were not the only ones that had came in the most exquisite traditional garments. Once again, I had wished I had packed my kilt!

Once the parade and award-giving were both finished, we got to then explore the many different tables that were set up across the two levels of the school and we got to try many different delicacies on offer.

I stuck with a few teachers that I have really made great friendships with during my time here because they told me the best route to take to get to the most popular tables first! It was a great laugh to not only be socialising with teachers that were from all across the world, but also to feel like we were in Japan, Croatia, Italy and France for the night with all the amazing stalls that were set up.

The Japanese table was first and then the Indian. We strategically went to these tables in the beginning as there are normally queues. There were so many different types of freshly prepared sushi, edamame soy beans, pork meatballs (tsukune) amongst the decorations of pikachu, dragons and kimonos. The Japanese community were very accommodating in telling us about the food that was on offer as were the Indian community in their traditional attire.

Making our way around the tables, we also saw many different examples of cultures beyond food. One in particular was on the Turkish table where the practice of Ebru art was being shown to the children and they were getting to participate in the art themselves. The Turkish Cultural Organisation (2018) explains that this form of art is paint is submerged in an oil-like substance to refrain from the paints mixing, which allows for patterns and shapes to be made with tools. Once a pattern is made, it can then be transferred onto paper and the whole process can start once again with the oily chemicals.

The Technique of Ebru – The children got to try their hand in the art that is created through creating colourful patterns on a pan of oily water and then transferring the creation onto paper to finalise the art.

Culture Extends Beyond Delicacies – examples of the finished pieces that had been transferred onto paper. It was really an art of patience and a steady hand that was able to create these masterpieces of Turkish heritage.

Whilst people were making their way around the food, the Aula was hosting different performances that were announced over the school’s speakers to say a particular traditional art was being performed. It was perfectly timed that the professional Turkish dancers began to perform when we had made our way back to the hall.

From what I’ve looked up on the internet, the Turkish dance that was performed was a “Zeybek”

There were also kung fu performances from the students that were from China and they got to show the audience their masterings in the martial arts that is famous from their home country. Cheerleading, african dance, flamenco dances and many more performances were put on by the ISS family and they were all spectacular in their own right. I felt very proud for many of the students that got up and presented their arts that are derived from their country of origin.

I also couldn’t help but seek the comforting tastes from home at the UK table:

There’s No Place Like Home – I may have eaten too many scones and pieces of shortbread

What I particularly enjoyed about this part was being able to show and explain to the children of my host family about all the different British (and Scottish) delicacies and they particularly enjoyed trying the banoffee pie and the trifle (after being able to already taste shortbread that I made at home). I also got to show the staff members what my background looks like as a menu along with my fellow British peers that work at ISS.

I was partially adopted by the French table, however, due to the mother of my host family being French and she herself had a great hand in preparing the table with her French peers.

Vive la France! – crepes, wine, macarons and quiche were some of things on offer from the French table.

The French were making freshly prepared crepes for those that wanted a taste of France and many of those that were not driving got to have a glass or two of the finest French wine. I had the car and therefore had to refuse kindly.

Even just reflecting on this night as a personal development point, I would have laughed if a person had told me I would be devouring sushi, dumplings, crepes, curries and (holding onto my traditional home favourite) shortbread – especially in one night! I want to thank all of the helpers that prepared all the meals, the tables and the decorations because without the school community coming together to host an event like this, then people like me would not be exposed to the different ways people live their lives. One of the staff members that I’ve been really supported by during my time here even told me that they had worked across the world’s network of international schools and had never seen an event like the Mulit-Cultural Evening that is hosted by ISS ever in any of the other international schools, proving that it really is a school that flagships culture celebration.

Before the crowds would make their way to their cars to head home, the oldest son and I left in the car just before the winners of the raffle baskets were announced. It was my first time driving in Germany in the dark. It has been quite an experience to take on the high-speed driving of the autobahn for 2 months but it was another to do it in darkness. I will take badly when I return to the speed-limited roads of the UK! I have been driving all over during my placement; Sindelfingen, Stuttgart, Kirchheim unter Teck and even Sillenbuch. It’s been very handy having another driver with the family and I have been very happy to take on the responsibility of taking us places when the parents have had business or the children have particular clubs or events on during the week. It has really increased my confidence in driving and confidence in my own capabilities as a whole; gone are the days when I was first picked up by the family and we were zooming to my unknown place of residence for the 2 months at 200km/h in the Audi and I thought, “how am I going to be able to handle this myself?”. Now, it is me making those trips every morning and afternoon to get to and from school and beyond!

Once we arrived home, we settled in our rooms to sleep with full stomachs and full minds of all the things that we had experienced in one night. I have to say that I felt transported with every table I visited and with every person I interacted with during the multi-cultural evening.

Truly, a one-in-a-lifetime experience: this night, this placement and the school of ISS.

I leave this post with more of the photos I took during the night, however, I believe they can never do the grand event justice. The atmosphere could never be documented:

The Italian Vespa – Italy really stood out for me with their scooter. They served the iconic dishes like pizza, pastas and cheeses.

The Taste of the Caribbean and Africa – the smells coming from this table were amazing. The spices were really aromatic and the dishes looked so tasty. The helpers were also dressed in traditional African clothing which was also great to see

Indonesia’s centrepiece was particularly rememberable.

From upstairs the Croatian table could be seen down below. Also, the usage of “lesen” on the entrance way into the school is a great form of symbolism used by the school. The verb “to read” is used in the foyer in all the different languages that are evident at ISS, which served as a great environment to be hosting such an inclusive event


The Turkish Cultural Organisation (2018) The Turkish Art of Marbling (Erbu) [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 5 May 2018).

Kirchheim unter Teck – die Kultur und die Verbindung mit Großbritannien

Whilst staying with my host family, I have been able to really get engrossed into the town of Kirchheim unter Teck. Kirchheim is a little while away from the city of Stuttgart – it requires a drive of 20 miles to get to the International School of Stuttgart across the A8 Autobahn, something that I have blogged about as I’ve been driving us to and from the school everyday.

Kirchheim itself is a small German town located in the southern part of Germany and in the state of Baden-Württemberg. I got to see more of the town itself with the family. We even got to go up the Teck mountain and see one of the castles that are on top of the mountains. This is where I also got to understand its historical connection with the UK. Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother, Mary of Teck, was born in the UK however, she was seen as a princess of the Württemberg due to her father being the Duke of Teck and he was married into the British royal family. This then shows an unusual connection between the two countries, particularly the Baden-Württemberg section that I am residing in. It made for an interesting discussion with my host family about the history behind Teck itself and how the world can be a small place sometimes…

The view from the castle on the Teck

It is the same for when the family went away to a conference in March, they ended up talking with DC Thomson & Co. from Dundee and it was strange that, out of all the companies that they interacted with, it was one from my hometown that they were with. Somewhat of a digression, however it made me realise that you never know who you will bump into in life.

The coat of arms on the front of the castle. The one on the far right is the coat of arms for the Duke of Teck, the family that is interwoven with the British royal family.

Part of the beauty of Kirchheim unter Teck is the heritage that it holds, with many of the buildings being traditionally Fachwerkhäuser (traditional timbered German homes). However there are also more modern developments across the town beginning to take shape as, like many parts of Germany, they are still rebuilding after the war. I’ve been able to experience both the traditional shopping settings of the weekend markets where fresh produce is sold on stalls by local vendors and I have also been able to see the giant supermarket mall that is here also. It also made for an interesting talking point with the family about if modern constructions fitted with the older buildings that already existed.

There are also a lot of bigger companies within Kirchheim. I had a lot of deja vu walking into the Lidl that is here because they are identical in the UK, which reminded me that it is a German company in the first place. Recaro, the famous company for making the seats for race cars and aerodynamic planes, has their headquarters here also and the head of the company lives here too.  I have come to discover there are lots of businesses in Kirchheim and of course within the wider city in Stuttgart, as it is famous for the engineering industries.

This short post has allowed me to put into writing some of the details I have discovered about where I am residing during my placement, showing that I am engaging with the wider community as well as the community of the school. It also allows me to showcase some of the pictures I have taken too!

LfL – Section 1

This post contains the information needed in section 1 of the portfolio.

This section of the Learning from Life portfolio should be completed prior to going on placement, which will allow a strong basis for continual reflection points during the placement.

Audit of Skills

Rating of skills (1=Not very developed; 3= very developed)

Skills and Abilities 1 2 3
 Flexibility *
 Confidence *
 Self Discipline *
 Working Under Pressure  *
Setting Professional Goals  *
 Taking Risks *
 Sharing Opinions Confidently  *
 Teamwork *
 Acting as a Leader *

Personal Attributes

Recognition Reflection Action
Skills already developed How will I use these How do I know (evidence)**
 Teamwork Working within ISS, I will be in contact with various staff members and will have to work alongside them in a collaborative manner. Forming strong bonds with the staff at the International school of Stuttgart.


Also, being approachable to the children that will be from vast spectrums of backgrounds due to it being an international school will ensure that I can work collaboratively with the children in a successful manner.

 Sharing Opinions Confidently  In order to gain the most from the placement, I will need to be able to contribute my own opinion, which will need to be backed up with factual understanding in order for my opinions to be taken into real consideration. When my opinion has been put forward and been fully considered by my peers.
 Working Under Pressure  Not only will I be working in a different country that speaks a different main language from my own, I will also be working within a school that follows a different curriculum. Therefore, I will need to push myself beyond my limits in order to surpass the various pressures so that I can be successful.  I will have gained self-resilience alongside working under pressure and will be able to have sustained the expectations and workloads of the internship within the school.
 Setting Professional Goals  Making goals prior to the placement and whilst working within the school in order to succeed in my VIVA at the end of the placement.  My continuing assessment of on going goals will ensure that I will have a successful VIVA.
 Confidence  Being confident to express thoughts and opinions, which will be needed in both English and German  I will increase my confidence in both English and German.
 Flexibility  Being open to change and being adaptable to the varying factors that affect the day-to-day workings of a school  When I can think on my feet when adjustment is needed to be made to practice whilst in the International school


I will be basing much of my knowledge on my first year placement and my previous experiences within working in primary schools prior to university, however, due to this being an international school in a different country, I will need to look at the placement through a different lens. Furthermore, I have learned the language of German up to an advanced level (advanced higher in school and an advanced level as an elective last year at the university) however, I will be experiencing the language in its natural environment. Also, due to the school being part of the International Baccalaureate, I will need to increase my knowledge in the differences in curriculum between that of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and that of ISS. Particularly as the International Baccalaureate strives for creating “internationally minded people” (International Baccalaureate, 2013, pg. 5)

Personal Attributes

I believe that I am a person that strives in challenging situations and I like to be pushed beyond my limits academically and within practice, and I believe that ISS is the perfect place for me to be able to, not only increase my professional development as a teacher, but also see beyond the teaching experience that I gained in Scotland. I want to also use my team working skills to form cohesive bonds with the staff and students at the school, as this will ensure that I will get the best results for my placement. Approachability, resilience and creativity are also attributes I hope to hone.

Professional Values and Personal Commitment (SPR 1) – Pre-Placement Reflections (General Teaching Council for Scotland, 2012)

1.1 Social Justice

  • I will need to embrace the different culture of the surrounding area of the school (Stuttgart, Germany) and take into consideration the various backgrounds of both the staff and the children that I will be working alongside in order to show a real dedication to aiming for social justice, particularly as the school will have people from across the globe under one cohort and student base.

1.2 Integrity

  • Criticality must be at the forefront of my practice, as this opportunity will allow me to see a completely different curriculum, which will allow for a real critical reflection upon my own educational philosophy.

1.3 Trust and Respect

  • Acting in a professional manner to be able to create an inclusive and accepting aura will ensure that both students and staff will feel respected and well encompassed from the get-go of my arrival. I want to be able to be seen in a similar fashion as the pre-existing staff members at ISS in that, I will be there to support all students and staff members.

1.4 Professional Commitment

  • Lifelong learning coinciding with continual collaborative practice will mean that I need to reach out as much as possible when opportunities arise for my services to be put to the test, for example, extra-curricular activities, staff meetings and CPD events, which will probably differ in comparison to those in Scotland, will be very beneficial for me so I should put myself forward for them when possible.

Identification of Skills and Knowledge 

I have a strong understanding in terms of the environment of Scottish education due to placement and the multiple workshops during the 2 years of being in university, however, have limited knowledge in terms of the differing curriculum and philosophical approach towards education as a whole, thus making it an area that I will need to work on. This placement will play well into to the skills that I was able to develop during my first year placement in that I will be returning to the environment of a primary school. During the placement, i will be staying with a Germany family, which will require my skills in the German language being tested and explored within its naturally spoken environment. I will need to use my people skills in order to overcome the language barrier that will no doubt be a challenge at first, as it has been some time since I have utilised the language. Furthermore, I feel that much of my education in the language has been centred around the written format of language, which will be trickier to formulate into speech and to also be able to engage with spoken German that is being said to me, at first.

Reflection of Experience to Date

UK-German Connection

UK-German Connections Logo

Reflecting upon my experiences as a whole, I can utilise my pre-university experiences that I gained as a UK-German Youth Ambassador for the government-funded organisation that aimed to bring young people together to promote the learning of languages and my current university experiences to show my passion for both language and education. Dana and Yendol-Hoppey (2009) find that teachers need to be flexible to any given context they are put into, and that a welcoming attitude will serve any teacher well, thus meaning that I should be open to change, especially within a situation that is very abstract from my usual experiences. 

What I hope to Achieve

  • I hope to improve both my understanding of the language of German and the culture of Germany, which will be best achieved through participation with my host family and any events at the school (Interlinks with Social Justice – SPR 1 as I will need to consider the local and global values that surround the school and my host family).
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the International Baccalaureate system, particularly the progression of the Primary Years Programme – I will be coming with a good knowledge in the Scottish education system, however, I feel it is necessary for me to learn as much as possible about the IB system, as it will give me more areas for reflection in terms of my educational philosophy when being faced with an entirely knew format to teach towards (Interlinks with Professional Commitment – SPR 1 as I need to be dedicated to continually learning new ways to hone my professional practice) – I also feel it would be beneficial to make contrasts and links between the two where possible.
  • Expand my professional knowledge in terms of strategies, teaching methods and approaches towards teaching through both observation and teaching of my own. I would also like to see more than one class levels to see a full scope in a child’s education within the International School of Stuttgart (and, in turn, understand the differing levels in education as a whole some more).


Dana, N.F. and Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2009) The Reflective Educator’s guide to Classroom Research: learning to teach and teaching to learn through practitioner inquiry, California: Corwin Press.

General Teaching Council for Scotland (2012) The Standards for Registration: mandatory requirements for Registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland [pdf] Available at: (Accessed: 20 February 2018).

International Baccalaureate (2013) What is an IB Education? [pdf] Available at: (Accessed: 27 February 2018).

IB logo image sourced from wikimedia and UK-German Connection logo sourced from:

Reflecting on Semester One

Being student teachers, we must constantly reflect upon the knowledge and skills we have gained in our everlasting learning process in becoming qualified teachers. As part of a TDT (tutor directed task) we are asked to reflect upon something that impacted us from our learning in semester 1 between the Values and Working Together modules. In particular, we must link this to the Standards established by the GTCS (General Teaching Council for Scotland). 3.4.2 tells us, as trainee teachers, we constantly need to “engage in reflective practice to develop and advance career-long professional learning and expertise” (GTCS, 2012, pg.12). This means that we can progress as life-long learners and gain further understanding through professional reflection.

A key aspect from last semester that has really stuck with me was Jill Shimi’s inputs for Values. As Jill was a primary school teacher herself, I could relate to her inputs on a personal level, as she brought her own experiences as a teacher and linked them with the social justice topics we were investigating.

One of her stories, which tied into the problem of social class structures within society and the rising awareness of the Getting It Right For Every Child approach, really impacted me.

When she was a teacher, she had a child in her class that would misbehave and lash out in an emotional way. However, they were not always an issue within her class and she knew that something must have happened in their life that had made them disconnect from their studies.

Jill decided that she needed to speak to the child on a one-to-one basis and discovered that something traumatic had happened at home. The child’s parent had been mistreating them and they were from an area that was deemed as being deprived. These two aspects put Jill’s student at a great disadvantage in life at such a young age and she knew that they would have a lot of problems that other more fortunate children would be less likely to have, which emphasised the point of the attainment gap hindering children due to their background.

“You just don’t know what issues each child faces once they go home. You really just don’t know.”

Jill’s words really resonated with me because it really hammers home that the school environment is never the same and it needs to adapt and change towards the needs of the children, which also vary from day-to-day.

What I loved about Jill’s ‘solution’ to the issue of the student being disruptive in the class was to have a genuine talk with the child. The GIRFEC approach did not exist when this case occurred and Jill’s hands were tied on how she could aid the child other than being open. She shared her own personal struggles with the student and she connected with them beyond just her duty of being an educator for them. This resulted in the behaviour improving.

Fortunately, there was a happy ending to the story as Jill saw the child a few years later doing well for themselves, going against society’s expectation of them.

Underpinning this personal story with reflection theory, Jill’s situation is a great example of a practitioner using Schön’s reflection-in-action concept as she had to use her own judgement, as a professional, in order to formulate a solution as the practice was unfolding in front of her eyes (Schön, 1987). She did not have any prior knowledge of the student facing these issues and she didn’t have any hindsight to work with. I, as a professional, will be thrown into similar situations where I will have to use my own judgement to tackle a problem within the classroom.

“The swampy lowlands, where situations are confusing messes incapable of technical solution and usually involve problems of greatest human concern” (Schön 1983, pg 42).

Schön explains, that real human problems cannot be fixed by legislation alone. He described professionals as being people in the ‘swampy lowlands’ meaning they are the people who are at the forefront of the problems faced in society.

I really commend Jill for her actions as a teacher and I am really glad she shared this story in the input because it allowed me to really delve into the Values and it emphasised their importance to me. She was a teacher who saw, firsthand, the injustices within society and that she had to find ways to tackle them. 


GTCS (2012) The General Teaching Council for Scotland – The Standards for Registration. Available at: (Accessed 20 January 2017)

Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

The Tremendous Turmoils of Tuesday

Tuesday was a day filled with a whirlwind of emotions to say the least.

Our morning lecture for the values module really revolved around the central concerns we would be dealing with, not only in the module, but also in the occupations we hope to enter after graduating. Derek and Victoria picked apart topics such as race issues, gender identity, sexuality and class during the lecture. Rather than see them simply as just issues faced by people we had to delve deeper into why people have certain beliefs and bias views.

We learned the differences between being consciously biased and unconsciously biased in our ideas and beliefs. Each and every one of us is unconsciously biased. We are unaware of the automatic assumptions we make towards any given person or situation. Our experiences, our background and our cultural identity influence our own unconscious bias.

During the course of the lecture we were played numerous different clips of people who were affected by society’s prejudices. One clip I felt was really thought provoking and that was of the speech made by Panti Bliss, a drag act and activist for the LGBTQ+ Community. Panti talks about the everyday issues she faced and continues to face as a person who broke away from societies expectations of normality:


The best way I can describe the morning lecture was that it was very ‘real’.

It felt very…


Walking away from the lecture theatre once the hour was up was different from previous lectures. The walk back to the car made me realise that this was more than just what we are learning as education students. Real life issues were going to be at the forefront of our studies and rightfully so I think. As student teachers we are going to have to learn to be able to discuss issues in a very real way and we are must be open to new ideas and beliefs as much as possible.

There is no shying away from issues that we will have to deal with as future educators and supporters of young people.

Four O’clock hit and we had come back for a values workshop that was set up by Derek. We were told to take a seat at any table that had pens. Once we were set up into four groups we were given a large envelope per group and were told not to open it until the workshop began.

Derek announced to us that we had to create and construct something that would be useful for a new student coming to the University of Dundee with the supplies inside the envelope and that we also had to present our idea to the other groups. We were group 3 and inside our envelope we had:

  • Two sheets of white A4 paper and a sheet of blue card
  • Three rubber bands
  • Three paper clips
  • A pencil and a red pen
  • Two post-it notes
  • A piece of blue tac
  • A small envelope

As a group, we had to create something that was going to be beneficial for someone just like us. It was a daunting task with such limited resources but we came up with the idea of a personalised survival guide for the University of Dundee that had important information for all new students. What made this task even more difficult was the lack of support given by Derek. Group 1 were given undivided attention from him whilst we were left in the dark about how we were going to construct and present our idea to the rest of the groups. We began questioning why he was avoiding us within our groups. What had we done?

When it came to present our first presentation didn’t go down very well with Derek. He seemed unimpressed at our ideas. He wasn’t interested in what we had to offer. Derek instead praised both group 1 and group 2 who were planning on creating an extensive survival kit with their supplies. He even asked us if we had stolen our ideas from group 1. It was so strange.

Nevertheless, creating the survival guide was the next task we had to do. We put great effort into creating our survival guide with our resources and we felt that we did a really good job in our efforts and our presentation was delivered with confidence. Surely it’d be met with praise.

“I’d give it a 4 out of 10” was the response from Derek.

It was disheartening. We felt belittled. “Why does he hate us?” I heard amongst my group.

Group 1 had made a whole survival kit with all their resources. They even made a bag!

“10 out of 10 group 1 that was fantastic!”

It was so unfair

Group 4 received an even worse reception from Derek as they only got a 2 even though they were only given an elastic band, a pencil and a single post-it note.

It became apparent that Derek had fooled us in to believing he was truly being very critical of group 3 and 4 and showing favouritism towards group 1 and 2. It was all just an elaborate scheme to get us to come to the realisation that; even though the task is the same, people have different starting points and abilities with the resources they have to complete a task.

We have to respect and value the different abilities of every pupil as a teacher. We need to see our class as a group of individuals as each child has their own strengths and weaknesses.

Encouragement plays a key part in succeeding as well as group 1 would have walked away from the workshop feeling uplifted that they had done such a great job and the other groups would have disconnected from the tasks set by Derek entirely, resulting in only group 1 being successful. Everyone else would have to suffer in silence.

Once we were free to go I had another walk to the car that had a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions about what we experienced.

Tuesday was really a crazy day for the values modules and I can only assume there is so much more in store for us.