How the First Year of University Has Impacted My Ongoing Teacher Journey

My first year of University really has changed my perspective of teaching. When I first decided to be a teacher I thought that I would go to university and get told what all the basic contents are that need to be covered from Primary 1 to Primary 7. I knew that there would be a lot to do with child development and theories behind this, but I didn’t know we would look at ourselves as teachers.  I had never really thought much further than this or about myself as a teacher. I knew that I wanted to make a difference in children life and help them succeed, but I hadn’t realised that the first step to doing this started with looking at myself, what I believe about what is important in teaching and what my beliefs and morals are.

But, the very first lecture of Values: Self, Society and the Profession changed this. I started to really question what I believe and the lectures where very though provoking. I started to really think about my values and morals and thinking about the experiences which shaped my thoughts and beliefs. This has progressed throughout my first year. I began to realise how much teachers really do, how much of an impact they can have not only on children but also on society, as well as how much in society can influence teaching.

My first-year placement did not fully go to plan with me having to change schools due to changes out with my control within my first school. I stayed in the Nursery for a week before moving to a school outside of Dundee. At first, I was stressed and worried and I didn’t like that things weren’t going to plan. When I arrived at the new school my teacher was off for my first week, this was also not ideal but again out with my control. As placement went on I found that I was good at being flexible and being able to take on lessons with being given short notice, sometimes on that same day, and still having the ability to come up with an effective and well-planned lesson plan.  I realised if I hadn’t had that experience at the start of my placement I wouldn’t have been able to be as flexible. This also gave me a very realistic experience of what working as a teacher will look like in the future.

This placement gave me the ability to see what I thought was negative, turned out to be a very positive experience with a positive impact on my professional development. As Bass and Eynon (2009) describe the process of critical reflection, I can see that my first year at University has improved my skills of reflection, especially seeing what I can do to improve my practice. It has enabled me to think much more deeply about how I learn and why it is important for children in my class to know how they learn as well.

 

Management and Organisation in the Classroom

Organisation and Management:

  • Having tables of 4 or 6 helps avoid noise during the lessons. I would also make sure children get to sit with people they get along with, but if it becomes too chatty it is good to mix the groups to ensure children are focussed and so that they also get a chance to work with others within their class.
  • There are many whiteboards and chalkboards around the class, this allows the teacher to clearly display the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria, as well as putting any notes on the other whiteboards. Although some kids will have their back to the chalkboard and small whiteboard, all of them have a clear view of the smartboard which is what will be used for the majority of the time. If children can’t properly see the smartboard they can become bored and distract themselves with other things. This can also put limitations on their learning.

Use of Resources:

  • There is a located area for all the scissors, glue, rules etc. This allows the children to access resources easily and feel to do so freely. Having these resources out also means the children won’t have to constantly ask the teacher for resources.
  • Keeping the jotters in the same place also allows anyone in the class to hand out work as it is always kept in the same place. Finished work is also kept in the same place, this allows good routine within the class and avoids confusion.

Effective class rules and routines:

  • The class rules are located next to the teacher’s desk, in the front of the class where all pupils can see it. There is also one sheet laminated with all the pupils signature, showing they have agreed to these class rules.
  • The pupils are all expected to know the routines for coming in every morning, from breaktimes and the routine for how the classroom should be left at the end of the day.
  • There are also normal routines such as asking to go to the toilet before leaving the class.
  • Another good routine to have is for the children to have the expectancy to walk around the school quietly, taking into consideration everyone else’s learning.
  • Morning routines are important so that you can get your class settled down and ready for the day, it is also good to keep the class organised, such as doing a morning activity while the lunches and register are taken.
  • Routines are overly very positive to have as it gives children consistency which they may not get anywhere else.

Allocating activities:

  • Giving children specific jobs is beneficial as it gives them a sense of responsibility, while also learning responsibility, which is a big part of social development.
  • Having responsibility also gives the pupils a sense of importance.

Display and Presentation:

  • On the displays there should be topics that have recently been covered, this is so that children can refer back to this if they are getting stuck.
  • I think it would also be good to have displays of the children’s achievements, this would show a good classroom ethos. Children would also then feel like a part of the class and feel a good sense of community.
  • Having on display what the pupils will be doing throughout the day is also very beneficial as they can be prepared and aware of what thy can expect throughout the day.

Overall organisation in the classroom is important, it reduces stress for the teacher, promotes good behaviour management, and promotes a good learning environment for the pupils.