Waving 2017 A Goodbye

It is now 2018 and this year promises to bring a very exciting semester with so many opportunities. Although I am looking forward, it is important to look back at 2017 and my very first semester at University. 2017 has been a very hectic, crazy yet fun year. It has brought me a new sense of independence as I begin a new chapter of my life. Leaving home and moving to a new city has to be one of the most scariest things I have ever done in my life, which really says a lot about me. Moving away has allowed me to grow as a person, I have had to become more confident as I am now having to make new friends and face problems as an independent ‘adult’. 2017 meant I left a world of comfort and familiarity to one of complete unknown where a lot of valuable learning would begin take place, so I feel like it is only fair to dedicate a farewell blog to it. My first semester has been extremely interesting and thought provoking from beginning to end. Looking back on what I have learned in the Values and Working Together modules, I believe both modules have allowed me to build a good foundation for my future professional practice. I have developed my own thoughts and opinions as well as learning important theories of practice that will allow me to grow as a reflective practitioner.

When asked to think of an important moment from last semester, I found it hard to pick just one. Both modules, from beginning to end, have impacted my professional development and has sparked the beginning of my process of reflection. The Values module allowed me to explore many topics and issue that society are facing today and how everyone’s values, both personal and professional, can have a major impact on the world around us. I believe that the Values module has changed the way I now look at certain issues and has allowed me to become more informed about the different struggles groups in society face. It has allowed me to explore new interests, develop my own opinions, to have an open mind… to become my own person!

For so long I feel like I have been oblivious to barriers that others face because I do not face them myself. As a woman, I wasn’t fully aware of the barriers that stood in my way, my sister’s way, my mum’s way, my friend’s way and every other girl on this planet way. As someone who is white, female and straight I wasn’t fully aware of the barriers those of different race, gender and sexuality faced. How they had to behave differently because of harsh criticism and opinions from others in society. The Values module has been an over due wake up call for me, it is time I start to look at the world and people around me. I believe that the Values module has been extremely beneficial as I am now developing both my personal and professional values and opinions. Values are at the centre of teaching. It is how we treat others in our classrooms and in our schools. To be able to support and educate a child in the 21st century, it is extremely important to have professional values to allow a child to grow and to develop their own beliefs and opinions. As educators, we need to be much more aware of the issues that groups in society face and how that can affect a child in school.

The Working Together module has allowed me to begin to understand how inter-professional collaboration is extremely important and that all three professions (Education, Social Work and CLD) must work together to support every child. From an agency visit, where we discussed collaborative working, it was clear to see that the work on projects between the three professions, not only benefited and put the child at the centre, but also helped support many families and helped develop the community. It is extremely important for professionals to put their differences aside to come together for a child and the child’s family. The Working Together module has allowed me to look at and use different types of theories of reflection. This has helped me to be able to reflect and measure my learning throughout the first semester, which will be beneficial to take forward into my future profession as well.  Working Together has highlighted that it is important to be a reflective practitioner throughout my time at University and my future career. It is the only way I will be able to fully support the children I will teach and make sure that both the children and I will benefit from this and be given many opportunities.

Overall, I believe that 2017 and semester one have given me a lot of food for thought. I believe that both modules were a great way to begin my future practice with. I have gained so much new and important knowledge that I will bring forward in future practice and I feel like my mind has become more open because of it. 2018 brings a new adventure and sense of excitement and I look forward to developing my knowledge and reflection skills throughout the remainder of my course and on placement.

No Longer Oblivious

Before the lecture on racism, if you were to ask me what are the definitions of race, ethnicity and discrimination I would have grouped all three terms together and given them the same, basic definition. I thought I had a good understanding of the terms, but after the input it was clear to see that I was completely oblivious to what each individual term meant. Trying to write down each definition or explain them sounded like a simple task, however, I couldn’t begin to find the right words. I wrote:

  • Race – Judgement of heritage and/or skin colour
  • Ethnicity – Judgement of different culture/ society
  • Discrimination – Single someone out due to gender, age, ability etc.

For such complex terms, I wrote very little. I knew how horrible each term was and that many people in the world face a lot of problems and struggle daily because of them, however I couldn’t identify each concept accurately.

Throughout the lecture we were given multiple examples of racism from history, with each story being just as shocking as the last. Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago who went to visit his family in Mississippi in 1955. During his visit Emmett went to a grocery shop and was accused of ‘flirting’ with the shop keeper’s wife, Carolyn Bryant, who was white. Emmett was brutally murdered a couple days later by Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband, and his half brother J.W. Milam. The pair kidnapped Emmett, brutally beat him up, shot him in the head and then disposed of his body in the Tallahatchie River, where his body was later discovered. Emmett’s killers were taken to court by Emmett’s Uncle. However, their case was dismissed by the jury because they were white men. Although I had studied the Civil Rights movement previously in secondary school and had heard of the horrendous story of Emmett Till, I still found myself shivering in disgust at the gruesome pictures of his dead body. It felt like I was hearing the story for the first time again, I felt more sadness and anger towards the story especially when it was revealed to the class that Carolyn Bryant confessed in 2017 that she had indeed fabricated the story. This ultimately led to an innocent boy being murdered, therefore highlighting the shocking levels of racism that existed in America at that time and how many other’s like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King all had endure such horrible abuse towards them due to the colour of their skin.

However, it is still clear to see that these horrific problems still exist in society today. With recent events in Charlottesville, it is evident that racism still exists and affects many people in their day to day lives. With people like Donald Trump, who are in power, that don’t condemn this horrific behaviour and having the grand master of the KKK congratulate him on the way he handled the situation, highlights serious concerns that racism is still an ever-growing problem and will be seen as an ‘acceptable’ way to behave.

I watched a Ted talk by Clint Smith called ‘How to Raise a Black Son in America’ where the speaker talked about how he was brought up differently and followed other rules due to the colour of his skin because he couldn’t act like his white friends. I found this upsetting as I had no idea that people had to follow different rules to stay out of trouble because of the colour of their skin. That people with black skin couldn’t live their lives freely because of the judgement they would receive. It was heart breaking to hear that the speaker faced these problems at such a young age and to recognise at a young age that society will treat you differently due to the colour of your skin. Therefore, clearly highlighting that racism and prejudice still exist within society today.

Before the input, I had basic knowledge on the terms. I knew that racism was a terrible issue that society still faced today and was aware of the stories of Emmett Till and the Civil Rights movement in America. However, I was completely ignorant to the huge extent of racism that existed and still exists in the world today. I was completely oblivious to the fact that people had to change the way they live their lives and follow different rules because of their skin colour. I had no idea that they couldn’t live their lives freely without constant judgement from the rest of society. As a white person from a privileged background, I have never had to face such horrendous behaviour and now feel like my eyes have been opened much more. I now begin to recognise that racism and prejudice exists all around the world and not just in places like America. In addition to my basic knowledge, with the fantastic resources provided and the eye-opening lecture I now think about how different people go through different experiences in life due to racism and discrimination. Therefore, it is vital for anyone going into teaching to fully understand racism and discrimination to be able to educate the future generation about how terrible racism is and the horrific consequences racism has on people. To allow their pupils to understand that everyone should be treated equally, not just in the classroom but in the world, despite their race, religion and ethnicity.

An Eye-Opening First Task

Resource Allocation Task – 19/09/2017

Last Tuesday’s task was an eye-opening learning experience for all students on the course. When we walked into the classroom, we were split into 5 different groups. Each group received an envelope from our lecturer and were told not to open them yet. We were given roughly 5 minutes for the first part of the task which was to come up with a useful tool that could be used for future first year students and then to present the idea to the other groups. Our group, Group 2, decided to create a personal timetable as we thought this would be a useful tool to have as we find it hard to access and understand our timetable. The lecturer supervising the task offered our group a lot of help and continuously asked how we were getting on, which helped make our idea better as we received a lot of support. After the 5 minutes, each group presented their idea to the class. Group 1 and 2 received positive comments from the lecturer, where Group 3, 4 & 5 ideas didn’t seem to impress the lecturer as much. Not much thought was given at this point about the lecturer’s behaviour towards each group, little did we know that this was a key part of the task.

The second part of the task was to open our envelope and use the materials inside to create our idea. Inside our envelope there was:

  • Coloured paper
  • Scissors
  • Sticky notes
  • Coloured pens
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips
  • Sellotape

We had a lot of resources to work with to create our personalised timetable. We created the timetable however we only used a couple of the resources that we were provided with. After we completed this part of the task, yet again we had to present our idea to the class. Group 1 & 2 received a lot of praise from the lecturer. Our group knew our idea wasn’t very good however the lecturer told us our idea was well thought out. When Groups 3, 4 & 5 presented their ideas the lecturers mood and behaviour changed drastically. She didn’t give them any praise and instead she was making horrible comments about their ideas and telling them they clearly hadn’t worked hard enough. At this point our group realised that Groups 3, 4 & 5 had very little resources to work with and it was evident that they had tried extremely hard to make best with what they were given. However, the lecturer was still acting really cold towards the group and told them that having less wasn’t a good enough excuse and she compared their efforts against group 1 & 2’s.  At this point our group realised that the lecturer was purposefully acting horribly towards Group 3, 4 & 5 to highlight the oppression that those who have less face in this world.

At the end of the task, the lecturer revealed what the purpose of the task was and why she was behaving differently towards each group. She explained that in our future professions we will meet different types of children who all have different backgrounds. She asked if we had noticed her different behaviour towards each group, which we all said we had started to notice nearer the end of the task. She then explained that she was giving much more help and support to Group’s 1 & 2 and was giving little help to Group 3 and basically ignored Groups 4 & 5. The lecturer explained that her help and support should have been directed more towards the groups that had very little as they needed guidance and support to allow them to create a great idea, instead of all her energy being focused on the groups that clearly didn’t need it. That was then related to how that can be reflected in the classroom and how every child should receive support and those who come from worse backgrounds will tend to need more. Groups 1 and 2 were asked if we even noticed the struggles that the other 3 groups were facing due to less resources throughout the task. Both Group 1 and 2 said that they only really noticed their lack of materials and struggles when they were presenting their ideas to the class. The lecturer then highlighted the fact that those who are in a better position often overlook those who aren’t.

This led into an open class discussion where we talked about how every child should receive the correct amount of support from their teacher and that all pupils should be given the same amount of respect and kindness. We also highlighted that different children will have varied learning experiences due to coming from contrasting backgrounds and how they should all be given the same respect and rights. Overall, this task was an eye-opening experience that conveyed how important it is to ensure every teacher supports and respects all their pupils.

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Welcome to your ePortfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.

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Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

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