Author Archives: Gemma Sutherland

Restorative Practice

Restorative Practice is a form of Behaviour Management that is focused on promoting positive relationships within schools. It also aims to ensure that repairing harm and conflict is used more than assigning blame and allocating punishment. This is done through an understanding that when harm is done, we need to work with those involved to help the child take responsibility for their behaviour, learn from it and take action to repair the harm they have caused. It is important in Restorative Practice to pay attention to the stories of those harmed. This is essential to help repair them and to help the person responsible understand how their actions have affected others.

It is also vital when using a Restorative Approach to see the person NOT the behaviour. For example, by telling a child they are bad does not tell the child what they are doing wrong and how they could fix it.  By disciplining the child with fairness, in a way that they understand the impact and consequences of their actions and behaviour, has been shown to be more effective.

Instead of using quick fix punishments to try and solve the problems of behaviour within schools, we need to teach children the appropriate ways in which to behave. If a child has grown up in a place where no one has taught them how to behave before, how do we expect them to understand by sending them to the headteacher or to detention? By teaching them, just as we do for writing and reading, how to behave whilst they are in school, they can understand what exactly is expected from them and what they can do to improve in the future.


Brain Development Reflection

I always knew that relationships with others were important in helping to shape a human into the person that they are. But what I did not realise, is how much our relationships with others actually impacts our brain development.

The video by Education Scotland with Suzanne Zeedyk, changed my thinking on how the brain develops as before I would have thought, why is the child not adjusting to this environment? However, because the brain can adapt to develop in many different environments and circumstances, the key pathways that are created in relation to the world they grow up in are carried into adulthood. This means, if a child’s brain is programmed to be looking for a threat, for example through violence at home, it is so understandable why they would not settle very easily compared to children that come from more calm and relaxed backgrounds. This can also affect their learning, as if the child is spending a lot of their time and energy on looking for and dealing with stress, they will not have the same opportunities to explore and learn about the world around them.

This presents a new challenge for me as a teacher, as the way I act and put myself across in a class can ultimately impact the ways in which children’s brains develop. I find this quite daunting but at the same time exciting because although it is a lot of responsibility, I could influence someone’s life for the better. I could show them through a welcoming and trusting environment that not everything in life is a threat and sometimes it is okay to relax and enjoy things. This in turn may allow them to investigate the world around them and learn new knowledge and skills.  Suzanne Zeedyk said in the video, “the question to ask ourselves is. What kind of brain am I asking my child to develop in order to cope with this world we’ve presented them with?” I think this new viewpoint on brain development will definitely change my viewpoint on child development and make me more aware that how a child reacts is down to how their brains have developed. Also, that I should do as much as possible to shape them to deal with other aspects of the world, they may have previously been unaware of.

Reflection on my Dance Workshop

Today I had my first dance workshop, as part of the teaching across the curriculum module. Although I did extra-curricular dance classes as a child, I was a tad anxious before the class as I was unsure what to expect. At the beginning of the class, we had to copy the dance moves that the tutor was doing as a warm up. I initially felt really self-conscious, but as the activity progressed my confidence grew as we were all in the same boat. Once I felt more relaxed, I really started to enjoy the workshop and began to realise why dance can be so beneficial for children. It allows them to be creative and get some exercise whilst also having fun.

Within the workshop, we were also shown a PowerPoint which opened my eyes to the endless ways that dance can be taught and how easy it can actually be. Before this workshop, if I had been told on placement that I had to prepare and teach a lesson on dance, I would have had no idea where to start. I now feel more prepared and if this situation did arise I would have the resources and knowledge to be able to carry out a lesson with significantly more confidence and belief in myself. One idea that I will be taking on into placement would be the use of interactive dance resources such as Go Noodle. This could be useful in situations where lessons are finished earlier than expected. Through resources like this they are having fun whilst participating in dance. Overall, I have really benefited both personally and professionally after this workshop. My growth of confidence in my ability to teach dance effectively can have a positive impact professionally, as both myself and the children can get the most out of the experiences.

Have we really moved on?

I found Tuesday’s lecture to be extremely eye opening but also concerning when it came to racism. Looking back at the American Civil Rights movement I found it appalling that people were murdered and tortured purely for the colour of their skin. Emmett Till’s case, however, resonated with me the most. After the lecture I went shopping and, like Emmett probably did, I accidently touched the cashier’s hand whilst getting my change. The only difference here is he was brutally murdered. The horrible ways in which black people were treated, however, was not that long ago. Rosa Parks stood her ground on a bus only sixty-three years ago and the Jim Crow Laws were abolished just ten years after that. So, the question I want to find out is “Have we really moved on?”

You could argue and say yes because we now share our bathrooms with black people and they are widely accepted in society. However, cases like Stephen Lawrence’s say otherwise. No one was convicted for his murder and the police who carried out the investigation were described by his parents as being “like white masters during slavery”. Again, you could say we have moved on as after Stephen’s case statutory processes were put in place to pursue Race Quality across all Public Bodies in the UK. But what about Kevin Scott? He was shot by police in Charlotte after they claimed he waved a gun and was an impending risk to life. However, his family say he was reading a book and waiting for his son to come out of school. This case and many others around the world have shown they involved unnecessary and inconsistent levels of force. This was only two years ago.

So, have we really moved on? I would say no. Although we have come such a long way from treating black people as inferior and segregating them on buses and in public toilets, they are still a minority in the eyes of some white people. However, racism does not affect only black people. More recently, Muslims have been treated differently because of the assumption that all Muslims are members of Islamic State. I think racism will always be a part of society in some shape or form, but it is important for me going into the career path I have chosen to treat everyone as equal. During our lecture I saw a quote from UNESCO which stated, “All human beings belong to a single species and are descended from common stock. They are born equal in dignity and rights and all form an integral part of humanity”. Going into the teaching profession, I must keep this mindset to ensure no one in my care feels unvalued or a minority. This is important as it means that everyone would work to their fullest potential and thrive as individuals.


Social Inequalities Workshop

In our workshop on Tuesday we were split into four groups and given a resource pack. The aim of the task was to use the resources given to create something that we felt would benefit first years in their first week at university. We were given ten minutes to plan an idea which we would then present to the rest of the class. Our idea was a pencil case that’s outside had a map of campus on and the inside would be full of essential stationary and general instructions that would be helpful to new students. These included, how to use the washing machine, a map of the Dalhousie building and how to take a book out of the library. After we presented this to the class, the tutor gave us lots of feedback and explained what we could do differently to make our idea better. We were then given a further ten minutes to make a prototype of our pencil case and again we would present this to the class and show them how it worked. During this time, the tutor kept coming over to our group and gave us lots of suggestions on what we could add or change to our design. This initially made me think that she was testing us to see whether we would stick to our original plan or do as she said and change things about it.

When it came to presenting the ideas to the class I did notice a few things the tutor was doing that was odd but just shrugged it off. For example, during one of the other groups presentations she went to close a window and looked out of it for a little while before returning to watch. I thought this was rude but assumed she was just cold and otherwise would have stayed where she was. This I now see as me being naive to her actions when really, I should have questioned it.

When the tutor explained to us what she had been doing, I felt bad that I did not notice how differently the other groups were being treated. I was so interested in planning and making our idea that I never noticed that some groups only had a piece of paper and a couple of post-its to work with. The task made me realise how easy it is to be oblivious to someone being discriminated against because of inequalities, especially if you have more than the others involved. Going forward, I will make a conscious effort to ensure that this is no longer the case.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland’s (GTCS) ‘Standards for Professional Registration’, state that as a teacher I must be, “Committing to the principles of democracy and social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive and sustainable policies and practices in relation to: age, disability, gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion and belief and sexual orientation.” This means that I must ensure that every child in my care, no matter their background, is treated equally and is supported in achieving their fullest potential in ways that suit everyone’s personal needs. The GTCS also states that as a teacher I must be, “Critically examining the connections between personal and professional attitudes and beliefs, values and practices to effect improvement and, when appropriate, bring about transformative change in practice.” This means that once I step into a professional environment I must leave all personal opinions behind to ensure that everyone in my company is treated with the same respect and that no one is treated differently. This is especially important in school as a child may not be achieving their fullest potential due to being told they are not good enough or feeling ignored. This is also important as a teacher, so I can build trusting relationships with pupils and other professionals and to gain respect from those around me. This task has opened my eyes to the effects social inequality can have on individuals and how important it is that I recognise this and act on it throughout my career.

Reference: The General Teaching Council for Scotland, (2012), The Standards for Registration: mandatory requirements for Registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland, [online], , Accessed 23rd September 2018



Why I chose teaching

Helping young children to learn highland dancing sparked my interest in working with
children as I found it fulfilling watching them progress and improve. To ensure this was the career I wanted to pursue, I arranged to carry out work experience at my local primary school. This was an extremely rewarding experience and informed me of exactly what it takes to be a successful teacher. Working alongside my old teachers reminded me how much of a positive impact you can have on a child’s life.

Before I left for university, I was volunteering with my local Brownie unit. This allowed me to take charge of activities and instruct the girls how to complete them in order to earn their badges. I have learned that children find it easier to engage through being creative, playing games and singing and assisting at the Brownies helped me to realise this and to gain the skills to implement it.

Coming from a rural and deprived area, children with additional support needs are not always given the help they need to thrive in school. I was involved in a Lego group programme that allowed children to escape the classroom environment and to have the ability to open up about
any issues they are facing. I saw how this helped their confidence but also improved
their work completed in classes. This is something I want to continue with throughout my career to ensure that all children get the same opportunities in education.



Welcome to your WordPress eportfolio

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.

The ePortfolio in the form of this WordPress blog allows you to pull in material from other digital sources:

You can pull in a YouTube video:

You can pull in a Soundcloud audio track:

You can upload an image or pull one in from Flickr or any other image sharing site.

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

You can just about pull in anything that you think will add substance and depth to your writing.