Monthly Archives: January 2019

Key features of a Science lesson

Together with some of my fellow students we came up with the following ideas for key features of a good science lesson.

It needs to have active learning
-Needs to have problem solving and analytical thinking
-investigation and enquiry
-risk assessment
-familiar contexts, relevant to young peoples’ experiences
-appropriate use of technology, real materials and living things
-collaborative working and independent thinking
-relevant to wider society
– understanding and explaining through discussion, asking questions
-relevant to ability
-using evidence to draw conclusions
– be able to hypothesise with the info given
-be able to make connections to everyday life
– assessment through different approaches
– challenging and engaging
-present findings to peers to develop confidence in scientific communication
– use of ict for supportive learning

Reflecting on my first semester

Reflection is a major part of a teacher’s career and development; both at the beginning of our training and as we progress through our careers. I am now beginning to understand how important it is for us to be constantly looking back at the progress we have made, recognising the room for improvement as well as our achievements and having a positive attitude towards what our next steps are.

My first semester was a completely new experience for me and I have to say I have come quite far since our first week in Lecture theatre 4. The biggest learning curve for me was assignment writing. This type of academic writing was new to me and I can remember in the values assignment briefing I was quite overwhelmed. I had no idea how to approach this and had no confidence that I would be able to even attempt it. Miraculously my essay turned out to be something I am very proud of. Looking back I needed to have a more open mind towards new challenges and what I am able to achieve. However if I could tell myself one thing at the start of freshers it would be to properly reference from the beginning of the semester in my reading! That’s one thing I have taken into semester 2 that will save me a lot of time and stress.

Looking now to our first placement I know that reflection will be a key part of our development. Being able to be receptive to constructive criticism; being open to advice and not taking anything too personally is something I want myself to remember and hopefully when reflecting on semester 2 I can be more positive about my confidence to achieve.

Attitudes towards Mathematics

Our recent maths workshops have really opened my eyes to the stigma around learning Mathematics and the challenge I now face of teaching Maths. I have always relatively enjoyed Maths – I like how there is one right answer and the satisfaction you can get when a full page of working ends with one whole number! I was unsure about how I felt about being able to teach Maths and I now realise what is in store for me.

Tara told us about “Maths Anxiety”. The way someone reacts negatively towards Mathematics that can be debilitating. Any task involving numbers creates tension, fear or worry for someone. If we ourselves as practitioners suffer from maths anxiety this reflects on our pupils and how they feel towards mathematics. Tara and many of my other tutors have told me of how we must “fake” our confidence. Even if we are feeling a little shy or nervous about what we need to teach, as long as we are prepared, we must act confident and this will reflect onto our pupils. This is a prominent piece of advice I am going to take into my upcoming placement.

The Maths workshop also highlighted some of the attitudes towards Maths present in society today that haven’t really changed since the 90’s. Some of these included:

  • You are born good at Maths
  • You are either a Maths Person or an English Person
  • Girls can’t do maths

Some of these really annoyed me more than I thought they would – especially the last one! A lot of my maths teachers in the past have been women. We need to get rid of this attitude in our primary schools that girls aren’t as good at maths as this was the same attitude 20 years ago and our Curriculum has changed for the better. Mathematics is a universal language so we should be giving everyone the confidence and competence to excel at it.

Relationships: “They’re reacting to the environment we give them to react to.”

The young children coming into a classroom all come from different households, backgrounds and families. Each child will have a different relationship with their parents or carers to the next. Listening to Dr Suzanne Zeedyk talk about brain development in babies has allowed me to look at the way in which our relationships and upbringing shape who we are from a different perspective.

I had never thought of the environment babies are born into, whether that be noisy or peaceful for example, having such a big influence on how our brains actually develop. The early years of a child’s life really shape a person’s outlook on life and their personality. This idea can be key to our progression as student teachers as it can influence how we view certain situations within our classroom on professional placement. I like the way in which Dr Zeedyk summarises her talk:

It’s different from saying “How are they reacting to the environment?” They’re reacting to the environment we give them to react to.

This statement really stuck with me from the talk as it helped me to make the connection between babies and brain development to how I can apply this to my own teaching. It’s easy to blame a misbehaving child for disrupting the class or a lesson going wrong. However we can now look at the situation from the perspective of how this child’s relationships or upbringing has brought them to feel and act this way. What kind of environment am I providing to trigger this behaviour and can I do anything to help it? I am still at the beginning of my learning journey and still have a lot to learn about behaviour management especially. However this was my immediate reaction to this video and the connections I can make from it right now. If I watch it again in the future I’m sure I could look at it with an entirely different meaning coming to mind!

Reflecting on our Dance workshop

Our first input for “Teaching across the curriculum” for Expressive Arts was a workshop with Eilidh Slattery. Before going in I did feel nervous as to what we would be tasked with however I felt I had at least an idea of dance within the classroom. My previous work experiences have involved a lot of dance activities, especially around Christmas, as I have a background in dance as a hobby. However the workshop today opened my eyes to certain aspects of planning dance activities for a class and how many different ways you can involve dance and creativity (without having to get up and perform yourself).

One thing I particularly took into consideration was the way in which Eilidh asked us to think of ways to move across the room meant that it was accessible to all learners. A dance centred lesson does not have to be learning a routine or a certain dance style but learning and creating different ways your body can move. This can also link into health and wellbeing; connecting the lesson to learning about the body or the importance of being active. There are so many opportunities for active cross-curricular learning which I didn’t quite grasp before.

I also noticed that a lot of us became more comfortable to participate as the workshop went on as we were feeling rather nervous and awkward at the beginning. This is a perfect reflection of what dance can do for children’s confidence. As they begin to enjoy themselves and focus in on creating a movement or sequence they forget about any embarrassment they may have felt.

Looking forward to placement I am now starting to understand more of the pedagogy behind the curricular areas. The small details around planning a dance lesson that allow it to run smoothly were really interesting. Moreover all the different ways it could go wrong were especially helpful!