I decided I would write a small reflection of how I felt about my 1st year placement and what I learned from it. I decided to do this so I could refer back to it at a later date and see how I have developed over the years. I was teaching a Primary 7 class that was quite challenging but thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
Even though I enjoyed my placement, my time teaching and getting to know the pupils and the staff I felt very challenged during my placement. The school I was placed in was in a very deprived area in Dundee where the children had a number of home issues that would very often be brought into the classroom. My teacher informed me on what was going on in a lot of the pupils lives so I was prepared for any situation and so I was aware what pupils may be of a greater concern. My teacher informed me also of pupils who often struggled in the playground and may need a ‘quiet time’ after playtime or lunchtime to calm themselves down and refocus on the work they would have to complete. Pupils would take this ‘quiet time’ sitting at a desk outside the classroom door either colouring or just simply sitting with their head on the desk. I noticed that this benefited a lot of pupils as it allowed them to calm down and relax after what could have been a stressful time in the playground. My mentor and myself would always offer if the pupils wanted to discuss what happened in the playground that led to them needing to sit outside for ‘quiet time’. This allowed pupils to talk with us in a quiet and safe space without the fear of classmates overhearing how they felt or what had happened.
During my time on placement I learned very quickly that I had to build a solid and strong relationship with the pupils I was teaching as there were quite a few behavioural problems within the class. My teacher advised me that by building these strong and positive relationships with the pupils that they are more likely to respect me as an authority figure and listen to the instructions I give. Throughout my placement I feel I continued to develop a positive relationship with every pupil as many opened up to me about serious issues that they needed help with such as mental health issues that I then passed onto my teacher. I felt it was integral when having serious conversations with pupils that I informed them that I was going to have to tell my mentor so they did not feel I was betraying their trust or going behind their back in anyway. I faced many behavioural issues whilst teaching such as pencils being thrown violently during class time, physical and verbal fights and swearing directed at myself during class time. My mentor was a great help during all this as she prepared me previously about what to do in these situations and how to handle them with the most positive outcome. I definitely did struggle with behaviour management at first but I quickly developed these skills with the assistance of my class mentor, other members of staff and through research and academic reading.
I really enjoyed and learnt a lot from my placement. I saw how the topics we had discussed and learnt about in lectures applied to how I taught and dealt with particular situations within the school environment. It definitely improved my confidence in the sense of talking to the class and teaching as a whole. I am definitely nervous for my upcoming placement but having a great experience on placement the first time around eases my nerves more and gives me the confidence to do it all again!