I am beginning to fully understand how being a teacher is a constant learning and development process that never ends. For our entire careers, we must constantly reflect on and evaluate our practice so that we are the best we can be for our children. For this to succeed we need to have an adaptable attitude, be open to constructive criticism from others and also engage in changes occurring in our profession.
In semester 1, the professional values I will have to uphold as a primary teacher, the GTC Standards, were made clear to me and this was an important point of professional development for me. The journey of my teaching career had officially began and I was experiencing positve progress. Another pivotal moment in my professional development was when I visited a primary school as part of my Working Together module. I was moved by the environment I was in as it became clear in my mind that this was where my future was and ‘Working Together’ was a reality, not just a theory. I enjoyed speaking to the staff members on a professional basis and it meant a lot to me to see the complexities of the profession with my own eyes. Reflecting on this event, I learned that schools are far more than just classrooms and many more policies and initiatives, like GIRFEC, SHANARRI and breakfast clubs to minimise income inequalities, are in place to help children succeed in all aspects of their lives. As a teacher, it will be important for me to engage in these as children’s wellbeing is one of my top priorities.
The process of reflection is applicable in more cases than simply stating how a lesson went. It also means reflecting on your development as a teacher, evaluating why something maybe did not go as planned and most importantly, how you will improve on this so that your teaching journey is continuously moving upwards.
Michelle Cassidy’s input on the importance of relationships, Dr Suzanne Zeedyk’s video and John Carnochan’s video have all contributed to my understanding of how young children must be given the right environment to properly develop into responsible members of society.
According to Carnochan, the most important years of a child’s life are from 0-3 years old, as that is when their brains are rapidly expanding with the first experiences they have of life. It is important that children pick up the essential life skills of decision-making, negotiating, compromising, empathy and resilience as early as possible so that they can utilise them throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Dr Zeedyk also states that children’s backgrounds and the kinds of relationships they form are essential to their brain development – the environments that children are exposed to allow them to develop the skills they need to cope. This is important information for me to take on as a teacher in training because I must consider what the environment my classroom will mean to the children I teach. A safe environment which facilitates learning and also provides children with a stable and significant adult to support them is vital as to some children, this is the only stability they have. Carnochan explores that while children’s brains are very flexible in early years, they are also very impressionable and it is essential that consistent support is always available so that each child can focus on their academic and social wellbeing.
As a teacher, I have an important responsibility to ensure that children are not overcast by their background and have the positive influences that they need to grow into confident and capable valued members of society. All parents, whether they are raising a child alone, struggling with issues of their own or find it hard to fit childcare into their careers, should be given the supporrt they need to ‘be the best they can be’, as Carnochan states. Accoriding to Carnochan, negligence in childhood is closely linked to unlawful behaviour later on in life, so it is clear that if we nurture a child and ensure they get the help they need early on, we will not have to punish them as an adult.
I will take the notes from this input on board for my teaching career as I now understand how my classroom can mean so much more to the children I care for.