Community Project

For my community input, me and my peers volunteered for GAMH Young Carers. This is a program created for children and young people whose parents are suffering from some form of addiction or mental/physical illness. Due to this these parents are unable to be there for their children and provide them with support and comfort. Children can be referred by Schools, CHAMS and doctors if they feel they are at risk of developing depression or a mental illness. The group that I volunteered with were aged 9-12. The whole aim of this organisation is early intervention and prevention. So, for my volunteering activity I attended one of the groups that were held weekly. I went during the week of Halloween and so appropriately we were carving out pumpkins. The children had participated in this activity last year and so were well informed on the details. The activity was mentored by three adults. One aspect I found surprising was the informal relationship that the children had with their mentors. I think apart of me had an expectation that the environment would be more “educational” and “formal”, however what I learned whilst spending time with children is that this was the opposite. The children and mentors had a very familiar and friendly relationship where the mentors deviated from the traditional authoritative role. These children come to these activities for a break away from their school and home lives allowing them to develop skills and qualities such as confidence, resilience and most importantly a positive and healthy wellbeing. The most challenging aspect of this evening was communicating with the children. The group was a modest number of 14, however many of these children were quite quiet and mainly spoke to their friends. I wanted to help, so instead of asking the children if they required assistance, I asked one of them If they could help me scoop out the pumpkins “guts” as they called it. I tried to initiate conversation and make small talk, this was very effective as we talked about pumpkins and just Halloween. I kept the conversation light and steered it away from topics I thought would be personal. Halloween is not a festival that I celebrate so carving a pumpkin was completely new to me. A lot of children came to my rescue guiding me on what to do, whilst also asking for help on the “tricky parts” like cutting out the eyes. I was able to make jokes about what a horrible job I was doing, and many children laughed and agreed. I had to remind myself that this was not a classroom, and though it resembled one in many ways, (children were wearing school uniforms, there were mentors) there was no learning intention or success criteria, it was simply an activity that the children could enjoy and at the end of it, take a hand craved pumpkin home. This was a different and challenging experience as I wasn’t sure what my role was (teacher or friend) but as time went on, I realised that I took on both roles, I helped when I was needed, but I also did not hesitate to ask for help.

 

The experience I got from this day taught me a lot about the community. It made me more knowledgeable about the work that so many organisations are doing for young children that are going through hard times. Not only did I learn about the community and the role it plays for children, I learned more about myself. I learned that even today I get nervous when being in an unfamiliar situation, something that I thought I would “grow out of”. I overcame this feeling when I understood that the time that I had with these children was very limited and that I wanted to make the most of it and as much experience as skills as I could. I learned that I am much better at listening that I am at talking. The children told me a lot about the other activities they participated in and I understood that it was okay not to always speak. These children may not always get to tell someone about their day, they may not have a person at home that has the time or mental stability to communicate their day and emotions with, and so I tried not to speak much and let them do the talking. Although some of the children were quiet and gave me one worded answers, I understood that it was impossible to connect with them in such short times and I learned to not be so hard on and press them further. This was a skill that I learned through out the activity.

 

The skills I gained by volunteering in the programme were invaluable in relation to teaching and education. Although I feel I had skills before going in (communication and listening skills) I feel after the day I really developed these skills further in different situations. Not only did I develop these skills, I gained more that I feel as a teacher are very valuable. For example, I would like to assume that I am an enthusiastic person, however during the pumpkin craving, I felt that the room was quiet (most likely due to new people coming in) and the children sitting next to me weren’t speaking much. So, in order to ease my presence, I had to be very enthusiastic so that I came across friendly and approachable. Qualities I feel are incumbent when working with children. It allows children to feel safe to speak and participate. They are more likely to engage with the work/actives at hand, and there is more likely to be a more positive outcome. The article “Feeling and showing: A new conceptualization of dispositional teacher enthusiasm and its relation to students’ interest” back up this concept by highlighting through studies that a teacher’s enthusiasm greatly impacts a pupil’s interest positively.  So, the more interested a child is in the classroom, the more they will learn and retain.

A connection that I was able to make straight away from this experience was to Inter-professional working. Teachers are one of the contacts that can make this referral for children, if they feel their home lives are too stressful and the children need a break. This is an example of two different agencies working together to ensure the wellbeing of a child. Teachers must pass on information that is appropriate and necessary to GAMH, to ensure that each child is getting the best out of the activities and to monitor their progress and report back to teachers.

My overall experience volunteering for GAMH was invaluable, and although I was only carving pumpkins, I was immersed in an environment that taught me a lot about myself and my community. It taught me that just because you cannot see a person’s struggles it does not mean they do not have any. It also made me realise that a child’s parent or carer’s mental and physical health can have a much bigger impact on the child than may be evident. Lastly I leant that sometimes its not always the answer to talk to a child about their struggles, sometimes the best thing you can do is given them a break, is allow them to talk about anything eles and for a short amount of time, and relieve them of their stresses and allow them to have fun because in most of the cases, these children spend a lot of time speaking to may other adults about their problems and stresses (teachers, therapists, pastol care teacher, social workers).

 

 

 

energy

Energy

As we are all aware, we only have a finite amount of natural resources, and as such we are running out of them faster than we can produce them. Although this is a fact that is well known, as teachers we need to get this across to children and reinforce that we as humans have a responsibility to do something about it. This links to another theme that we explored, climate change. When we burn Fossil fuels, they generate high quantities of carbon dioxide, this can lead to a change in the climate as carbon emissions trap heat in the atmosphere.

Our first impute for todays theame was a very different approach from the rest. In today’s workshop we had a debate on whether renewable energy such as windmills were harmful to the environment or not. Todays class was very student led, we were given a guideline on what to research and were provided with articles on Moodle. I found this approach effective in terms of being more involving and retaining more information as I was actively looking for it myself. I feel I can implement this in teaching as children learn better when they are interested and involved with the lesson. By making lessons more child led and there being little input of the teacher gives children a sense of responsibility and in-dependency. After researching, the class was divided into two and each side chose whether they were for or against windmills. We choose for. As someone who doesn’t really talk much in class, I targeted my focus on the research aspect of the debate and wrote down many strong points that I felt argued our case well. Having my friends in my group made all the difference, as one of them volunteered me to speak in the debate. If this was two years ago I wold have strongly rejected the offer, however this course has constantly pushed my level of comfort by putting me in scenarios that make me uncomfortable and stressed. However, I have tried to mend my thinking by telling myself the more practice I get at speaking out loud, the better it will make me as a person and more importantly as a teacher. So, I said yes. Thinking about this from a teacher’s perspective I understand the strength of friends and having them in the same group, as they can encourage children that may not be comfortable in these situations and give them the confidence they lack. However, I also understand the advantages of mixing children up, it encourages them to bond over a common aim, and get along with people that they may not get on with and listen to their opinions. Participating in this debate developed a lot of my skills, research skills, collaborative skills, and my speaking skills, all skills that are highlighted in the General Teaching Standards. Curriculum for Excellence wants us as teachers to create confident individuals, and by incorporating small activities like these tests their abilities and encourages them to step outside their comfort zone in a safe and familiar environment. (Curriculum for Excellence 2016)

Our last input of energy was again a much different approach. As a class we were divided into two sections. My section was given a sheet with instructions that showed how to make a car out of very basic materials such as card, wooden sticks and cardboard. The instructions only showed how to make the car, however, our job was to make the car move without touching it, we were given additional materials such as rubber bands, balloons and paper clips. I enjoyed this activity, mainly because it was straightforward and clear on what we had to do. The instruction was concise and there were small pictures on the side as a reference, which proved very helpful at times when we were unsure. The element of a visual aid in a classroom id very effective as it provides children with a rough outline and guide. The second part of the activity was where we were able to use our initiative and creativity. We were able to successfully get the car to move using rubber bands and paper clips. After, both groups were accumulated together, and we discussed to one another our process. Instantly I could see the difference just by looking at their cars, everyone’s car in the other group was differnet, were as in my group we all the same structure, and people and gained on this by adding small decorations. I later learned that both groups were given the same task, make the car move with out touching it. However, where my groups had instructions on how to build the car, the second group were given none and were just given a random assortment of materials and told to build their own. This process of freedom and ability to use intuition and creativity is known as “Tinkering”.

After critically analysing both methods of practice I learned the benefits to both processes in a classroom. Since my group were given instructions, and set resources, it allowed us to be calmer and more relaxed as everyone knew what they were doing. There was also no pressure to create your own car. However, this may also cause concerns in a classroom, and some children may find it frustrating following instructions and may find the concept of instructions limiting as they cannot explore much. The solution for this would be to work with a pencil for so that no mistakes would be made before going on to something more concreate like a pen. Another reason why this method is effective in a classroom is because everyone is making the same product, no on has drastically different outcomes and this therefore eliminates the factor of competition. Assessment and experiences and outcomes are easier to manage as everyone has had the same experience of building a car. Through the guidelines of the CfE as future teacher I can monitor the skills that children are developing in using tools, equipment and materials.

 

The tinkering approach allows a sense of freedom but still in forcing rough guidelines. This method invites a divergent process in which there is no set plan and ideas that are constantly changing and developing. It encourages innovation, which develops skills such as curiosity, problem solving and the ability to take initiative. In a classroom I feel this approach may be well reflected

Natural Disaters

Our input for the past few weeks has been on natural disasters. I found this topic quite hard as I was unsure where I drew the line in terms of severity and graphics when it came to teaching it to children. I was unsure how children would react to such disasters as they entailed a lot of death and destruction.

In our first input, as a class we discussed our concerns about teaching the topic, and I realised that a lot of my peers shared my concerns. The workshop however did touch upon the sensitivity and if or if not a focus should be placed on the element of death in disasters. As a class we had mixed opinions, some thought that children were too young and it would be too inappropriate. I personally feel that it depends on the class, and how mature they are. I feel even a small amount of focus should be placed on the element of death as this as it a reality, natural disasters occur all around the world, and although I do feel that as future teachers we should emphasise that these disasters occurring in Scotland are highly unlikely, but they do occur in other places around the world. This would calm any fears and nerves that children may have if they think that these disasters were a possibility.

In our workshops we done a series of experiments that mimicked disasters. This was very interactive activity as we were handling material and visually seeing the reactions that occurred. As a future teacher I would definitely include an experiment when planning this lesson due to the fact that it encompasses a lot of different elements and many skills can be obtained. For example, one of the experiments carried out was a volcano erupting,  and in order to build it vinegar had to mixed with two more ingredients before it could be mixed with the baking soda for the reaction to occur successfully.  This would require children to be attentive and follow instruction in a chronological order. Furthermore, during the experiment ingredients need to be measured so this effectively brings in an element of mathematics, as children are having to accurately measure the ingredients using the measuring tubes. Overall I feel children would interact with this experiment because it is interesting and fun to see the “volcano” erupt.

In our second workshop we looked at Natural Disasters from a more social point. We looked at two contrasting countries, one developed and one developing and discussed how they reacted to similar disasters. I found this part of the workshop very informative as it gave an insight into the real world by providing real life cases (Japan and Haiti). By doing this, it solidified the fact that disasters do actually occur, and although it is a devastating process it is enlightening to see just how factors such as wealth, education and government can really help with the recovery of a country. The conclusion was that Japan was much more able to bounce back after the devastating earthquake that hit in 2011 mainly due to the fact that it was very prepared for such an incident to occur in the first place , so it already had measures in place to reduce the amount of damage and loss that would occur. (Scott- McKie 2016) . For example, having strong infrastructure that would be more able to bear the adverse conditions. Our last input to this topic was to deliver a presentation in groups in which we were to explain what we would do as future teachers to teach a particular disaster. In another groups presentation they explained how they implement a small activity to provide a visual element of the different types of infrastructure that Hati and japan had.  To mimic Japans infrastructure Legos blocks were used and piled up. For Hati’s  jenga cubes were used. Both material mimicking the sturdiness of the building found in the countries. This was a small but a very efficient activity as it provided a great visual element.

 

 

Preparing a lesson plan with six other individuals was not as hard and complicated as I originally thought. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure if we were all going to agree on the same thing, or if due to the large number, information would be miss-communicated. These fears were all eradicated when we scheduled a meeting to go over the plan, and whilst verbally speaking of what we would do, we ended up getting into the details of the lesson plan and immediately started documenting our work. Bouncing ideas of each other was great because someone always had something to add to it or adapt it for the better and it became clear to me that creating a lesson that is innovative, creative, interactive and educational was not as hard as I thought.  The GTC (2019) highlights the importance of working  collaboratively with our colleagues.  I also gained communication skills, as outwith university we remained in contact by creating a message group where we were able to ask question and finalise last details. This was key as it meant that everyone knew what they were doing and no one was doing more or less than what they should be. This helped a great deal as it took a lot of pressure of us individually. In order to even present our finding I had to research Tornado’s myself and strengthen the basic understanding that I had, this in turn allowed me to develop my research skills. The skills that I obtained both from participating in the experiments and micro teaching are essential to have as a future teacher as I will be able to pass them on to my students who will hopeful be able to take these skills too and more.

This was a short video that we included i our presentation that we thought would be effective as it was child friendly and very informative. the language was also at an appropriate level so that children could understand what was going on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

week 1-2

Introduction to Sustainable Development
The introduction input to sustainable development was refreshing in the sense that it didn’t tackle aims that were directly for children or how it could improve a classroom. This module touched on the environment and learning for sustainability, and although it doesn’t link to how it can benefit a child, it also extends wider to the benefits to the community and global community in terms of providing health benefits and better use of green space. In regard to today’s current events in which the Amazon Rainforest has made many appearances on the news and climate change has taken the attention of many leaders. This module allows us as learners to understand how to care for the environment on a minuscule scale that can have powerful impact if done as a community (recycling). In aspect of this module that I hadn’t quite expected was how it can be socially rewarding, I always took being Eco friendly to always having environmental impacts, but never experimented on how it can bring together a community.  As informative as this input was as a learner, links were still made  to how it relates to teaching and how children  must learn about the earth and understand how to care for it, because Climate change not only affects us but it will affect them too.

Diversity
A topic that is not only vital to acknowledge in a school environment but in all aspects of ones life. Diversity is the key to accepting change and embracing differences. In today’s input diversity was challenged in a classroom environment and how it could raise issues.
In order to assess the task in a different manner, Andrew suggested that as a class we acted out situations that could arise due to diversity within a classroom, and the stereotypes that surround minority groups. Hesitant and first and unsure of the medium, we discussed several stereotypes. Personally being of a ethical minority some of the stereotypes were target at my faith, and although feeling quite targeted I had to remind myself that this activity wasn’t about me. It was, as a class to understand that these enactments actually happen in many children’s life’s, and I can verify this as I myself have experienced several encounters that were based on stereotypes. I understood stereotypes were generally based on ignorance and lack of knowledge on ones faith or ethnicity, so looking at this from a teachers perspective, the clear solution  would be to to educate. Educate children from as early as primary one that not everyone is the same, we may come from different places, we may dress differently and eat different things, but that does not and should not mean that we must be treated different. Every child has the right to learn. No child is better or lesser due to their background and financial status. As teachers, in order to avoid discrimination in the classroom we must teach our children the beauty of diversity.

Instructions for Professional Target Development

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