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.


The International Baccalaureate

Reflective Activity One and Two:

  • How do the IB aims align with the main aims of CfE?

Firstly, there are 4 main aims of Curriculum for Excellence, these are:

  • Successful Learners, learners who can express their thinking and thoughts, meet challenges with a positive attitude and come up with the innovative solutions to problems.
  • Confident Individuals, these are individuals who are determined, have learnt about self-awareness, discipline is committed and confident in their learning. Showing this through drawing upon their knowledge, experiences, feelings and ideas.
  • Responsible Citizens: These are student that can explore ethical questions, respond to issues that are social and personal as well as develop morals and views.
  • Effective Contributors: this focuses on the ability for learners to express themselves creatively, work with others in a collaborative and cooperative way, showing initiative, leadership and enterprise.

These are known as the four capacities. The four contexts for learning are: Curriculum areas and subjects, Interdisciplinary learning, Ethos and life of the school, Opportunities for personal achievement.

After watching the video, I can see a very strong link and alignment between the aims of the IB and CfE. The IB aims are much more broken down, with very specific definitions. They are broken into 10 aims instead of four, but they cover very similar, if not the same aspects:

IB learners strive to be Inquirers, these are learners who ask powerful and knowledgeable questions to expand their learning and be lifelong learners. Knowledgeable learners are those the IB strive not only to explore locally but globally. They also strive for their learners to be:

  • Thinkers: Make decisions which are well thought out and many options have been investigated.
  • Communicators: Good listeners and confident in more than one language. This is very similar to confident individuals in CfE.
  • Principled: This is a large focus on the sort of people these students become, which is honest, fair and responsible.
  • Open- minded: This is focussed on developing critical appreciation for not only your own culture but for other cultures you may come across and explore.
  • Caring: Committed to serving the community, this aligns greatly with responsible citizens in CfE.
  • Risk takers: Courageous, resourceful and resilient.
  • Balanced: Taking care of personal wellbeing for themselves and those around them.
  • Reflective: thoughtful, realistic and hopeful for the future.

IB is highly focussed on their students, help them to become lifelong learner, which is also a focus in CfE. IB education help build understanding through enquiry and reflection, using independent research to gain understanding and is not only about their own knowledge but also about what else they can do. IB students are globally engaged, help face local and global challenges. Students learn content that is worth knowing and make connection through many fields of study. I would say that CfE is not as focussed globally as the IB, the IB really emphasises this area impressively. The IB aims to remove barriers and boundaries by improving pupil’s knowledge of other countries, their languages and culture. This is to build intercultural learning, understanding and respect towards every individual, enabling collaboration with others.

  • Have you experienced any aspect of the IB aims when working with children or in your own education?

I have experienced many aspects of the IB aims as a pupil myself and when working with pupils. I believe this is because many of the IB aims are like those of CfE. The only ones which I would say are not as closely looked at is how global the IB is. There are languages done in schools but there is not such a focus on it as there is within the IB, which is what makes the IB so unique. During each school day, as a student teacher is as trying to develop the children numeracy, literacy and Health & Wellbeing, which aligns with the IB. In contrast, when on placement I did get to experience seeing French lessons being taught, as well as looking at War and Peace across the globe now, not in the past but what is happening in the world currently. So, this shows that CfE does have some focus globally put perhaps isn’t recognised as globally as the IB. As a student teacher I have also experienced how important being aware of other people’s culture and background is in this profession and in teaching. The IB programme also aligns with CfE as it focuses on the teaching to be successful in the way that it is engaging, thought provoking, significant, challenging and relative. These characteristics will build pupils into successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. Both the IB and CfE focus on creating a safe, healthy and successful environment.