Category Archives: 3.4 Prof. Reflection & Commitment

Memorable School Experience: Class Act

Reflecting on my school experiences I realised I didn’t have one that really stood out to me from primary school (not unless you include the trip to the National Museum of Scotland when one of my classmates got their head stuck in a fancy-dress costume!) So instead I thought about memorable high school experiences and one immediately sprung to mind – the Class Act playwriting project.

This was a project I participated in during my sixth year of school as part of my Advanced Higher English class. We were lucky enough to be partnered with the Traverse Theatre Company who work with a few schools across Edinburgh to help pupils develop their playwriting skills. The theatre company provide in-class workshops, giving hints and tips on how to come up with new ideas for a play and how to write them in a way that entices the reader.

After these workshops our class split into small groups to write our own short screenplays. I still remember the play my group came up with: ‘The American Dream’ – a news reporter who is power hungry for fame and decides to sabotage the American president. The most exciting part of it all was knowing that our screenplay would be performed by actors in the Traverse Theatre. This provided a great motivation for us during the writing process as we knew there would be an amazing end product to the project.

Once the screenplays were finished, we were able to have a dress rehearsal with our actors to make sure they grasped the mood of the play and to make any last-minute adjustments. We then had a trip to the Traverse Theatre where we got to see all our plays come to life on stage with actors, costumes and props. I still remember the nervous, yet excited, feeling when I knew our play was being performed next!

To bring it all together we were also given a published book at the end, which included all of the screenplays performed throughout the night. This was an amazing memory to take home.

This project is still running in Edinburgh and the following link will take you to the details for Class Act 2018:

Discovering Maths: Going Forward

After receiving our final input today for the Discovering Mathematics module, I realised how much my opinions and misconceptions of mathematics have changed. I wanted to write one final blog post to summarise some of the key discoveries I have made over the course of the semester and the ways in which I will use these discoveries in my teaching practice.

My opinion of mathematics

Before beginning this elective, I was extremely apprehensive about the thought of “doing mathematics”. What I mean by this is that I always viewed mathematics as complicated sums and equations which needed to be solved. I saw mathematics as a stand alone subject because my teachers never made explicit links to the mathematics I was learning and other curricular areas or the wider world. Now, after researching and questioning the mathematics in everyday life – such as in sport, music, art and games – I understand that maths really is everywhere! Even though the links to everyday life and maths may not be explicit, it is evident the importance that basic mathematical principles hold in so many aspects of life. My favourite example of this is the idea of thinking strategically, which is something I have always done when playing a board game for example, but I’ve never considered this to be a mathematical skill.

My favourite discoveries

One of my favourite discoveries I made during this module is the link between mathematics and sport. I particularly enjoyed thinking about the mathematics involved in the rules of sport and then reinventing these rules, using the mathematical principles I had identified (Coventry, 2017, a). This is an example of one of the moments when I realised I was really using mathematics rather than simply doing it to solve an equation. I also liked that I could relate mathematics to a dancing – a hobby I’ve enjoyed from an early age. Never did I think I’d be able to relate a passion of mine to a subject I never thought I’d use outside school (Coventry, 2017, b).

How this will influence my teaching practice

Going forward, I am excited to use some of the experiments and examples we have used in class in my own classroom with pupils. In particular I would love them to try and make links to mathematical principles and something they are passionate about such as a sport or a game. This will show the pupils that mathematics is relevant in their lives outside school. I will also be aware of the way I teach mathematics, making sure I issue work which is meaningful and enjoyable for the pupils. A good example I could look at with an upper years class is allowing them to practice their budgeting and money handling skills whilst looking at food chain supply (Sloan, 2017). This would allow pupils to work together in teams to decide what they want to spend their money on, whilst using basic arithmetic to calculate the profit they would make. This is something I feel as though children would become very invested in as they try and beat other groups to make the most money. This could also be a challenge which could be spread across an entire term, with prices for stock changing throughout the duration of the process.

This module has really opened my eyes to the ways in which maths can be explored in wide and meaningful contexts. It has also highlighted the issue that too often people presume they cannot do maths without thinking about what they do in everyday life which is underpinned by mathematical theory and practice. It is therefore vital for me, as a teacher, to make these links explicit to children so they can develop their interest in mathematics throughout their education and beyond.


Coventry, J. (2017, a) Discovering Maths in Sport. [Blog] Glow. Available at: [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017].

Coventry, J. (2017, b) Discovering Maths in Dance. [Blog] Glow. Available at: [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017]

Sloan, A. (2017) The Apprentice Activity. [Blog] Glow. Available at: [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017]

Analogue Clocks: Pointless and Confusing?

Living in a digital world, I ask the question: do we need to teach pupils how to read an analogue clock in schools?

Although most of us have converted to digital clocks in our online, digital world with our smartphones, computers and televisions; we cannot deny that our encounters with analogue clocks are not completely non-existent. There is an argument that in most places we visit – schools, work offices, supermarkets, restaurants and hotels – we most likely still encounter analogue clocks (Merz, 2014). Therefore, is teaching how to read analogue clocks not a necessary skill to teach pupils in school?

According to Merz (2014), many teachers are frustrated with the idea of this skill being disregarded, with the argument that analogue clocks can provide a vivid representation of time that digital clocks cannot – which can aide visual learners. Analogue clocks can also teach concepts including time management, the passage of time and how much time we have left to complete something (Merz, 2014).

However, with our fast-developing technological advances, it is difficult not to wonder if eventually analogue clocks will disappear in our society. Nowadays, we see plasma screen televisions or digital billboards nearly everywhere we go – displaying digital time. Although analogue clocks are often visually appealing and provide nice décor, they don’t really provide any use other than telling the time. It is therefore arguable that digital screens are much more valuable in society as they are multi-purposeful and allow for more creativity (The benefits of digital billboard advertising, 2015). For example, recently in a shopping centre in Edinburgh, I passed a large television screen which displayed the current top news stories, multiple adverts for new products which could be found in the centre, whilst also displaying the time.

Moreover, one of the key issues with teaching pupils about the analogue clock in schools, is how complex it is for pupils to grasp and understand. This light-hearted, comical video highlights the difficulties for young learners learning how to read time:

(Dave Allen – “Teaching Your Kid Time” – ’93 – stereo HQ., 2009)

I partly decided to write this blog post as I was one of the learners in primary school who had difficulties learning about time. I could not wrap my head around the idea of ‘quarter past’, ‘half past’ and ‘quarter to’ (considering we represented every other number on the clock as a number). I also struggled with the concept that there were different ways of reading the clock (e.g. saying 35 past 7 or 25 to 8) which would both be correct. This raises key issues of problem solving and looking at a mathematical concept from multiple perspectives (key skills which are transferrable across all mathematical topics.)

It is important to note that these are aspects of telling the time which apply to both reading the analogue AND digital clock. It is therefore my opinion that the real issue with teaching time to pupils is the concept itself, rather than teaching pupils how to read a particular type of clock. The video above does highlight the difficulties of learning to read an analogue clock – however with the fundamental understanding of the concept of telling the time, I believe that most pupils would welcome the challenge of applying their knowledge to reading an analogue clock. For example, it is vital that children have a strong understanding that 6 is half of 12 to be able to understand why we use the term half past. Another skill which would benefit children before reading an analogue clock is knowing the 5 times table. According to Drabble (2013), without knowing the 5 times table, “anything beyond the o’clocks becomes almost unotainable.” This relates to the idea of longitudinal coherence, introduced by Ma (1999) who states that teachers should use children’s prior knowledge to enhance learning in the topic at hand. It also links with what she writes about basic ideas, meaning that children should revisit the basic concepts they have learned (i.e. fractions and times tables) to understand that they are required for other areas of mathematics (Ma, 1999).

In conclusion, after doing research online and through my own experiences, I believe there is a necessity for teaching pupils about digital and analogue clocks. I believe that we currently live in a world where analogue and digital clocks are both relevant and should therefore both be exposed to pupils. I have realised since studying this issue, that it is important to ensure that pupils understand the principles behind telling the time before introducing them to an analogue OR a digital clock. Furthermore, learning how to read two types of clocks reinforces pupils’ understanding about the concept of time and allows them to practice telling the time from different contexts. This reflects the work of Ma (1999), who highlights the importance of connectedness – meaning that children can link what they have learned to different contexts.

This picture reflects what I saw on my first year placement and shows how to make reading the time on an analogue clock more visually appealing for pupils, whilst also acting as a visual aide (however it is important that pupils realise that they cannot rely on this, as every other analogue clock they see will not be represented in this way!):

Image credit: Teacher’s Pet (2014) ( 


Dave Allen – “Teaching Your Kid Time” – ’93 – stereo HQ. (2009). (Video) YouTube: davidwrightatloppers.

Drabble, E. (2013). How to teach … telling the time. The Guardian. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Nov. 2017].

Ma, L. (1999). Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics : teachers’ understanding of fundamental mathematics in China and the United States. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Merz, S. (2014). Should We Still Teach Analog Clocks?. [Blog] Stories From Schoolaz. Available at: [Accessed 4 Nov. 2017].

The benefits of digital billboard advertising. (2015). [Blog] Signkick. Available at: [Accessed 4 Nov. 2017].

Stand and Deliver

As part of our introduction to this module it was recommended that we watch the film Stand and Deliver and to analyse the character of Jaime Escalante – a maths teacher at Garfield High School, East Los Angeles, California. We had one question to answer:

Why is Jaime Escalante Different? 

Jaime is different because he takes into account each and every pupil in his class; not only their ability but their individual personalities and lives beyond the classroom. His relationship with the pupils is what encourages the pupils to work with him, rather than see him like all their other teachers (who see them as nothing more than pupils in a classroom.) I believe the class gel so well together by the end of the film because Jaime uses each of their strengths to solve problems together as class, rather than only helping those in the class who seem the most interested and able. Jaime also teaches the pupils fundamental problem solving skills before teaching them anything difficult which provides the pupils with the foundation they need in order to go onto advanced calculus. On the other hand, a lot of the time teachers focus on the topic at hand and not the skills which are needed in order to make the topic manageable for pupils. Jaime also regularly relates what he is teaching to real-life concepts which makes the classes more relatable for the pupils. He doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects, such as sex, but instead uses these to facilitate learning.

This is a great film which really highlights the importance of the difference a teacher can make when it comes to teaching topics like maths, which a lot of students shy away from. It also shows that bringing your own enthusiasm and confidence to a classroom can encourage other pupils, who have previously had a bad relationship with maths or school, that they can do well and succeed. These are all key attributes that I will ensure I bring forward with me when teaching mathematics in the future…

Image credit:


Discovering Maths in Dance

I have to admit, I am always one of the people who raise their hands when the question is asked: “Who here has an anxiety when it comes to Maths?” I still vividly remember receiving results from a maths test in primary 7 and thinking that this was it – me and maths weren’t compatible. To be honest with myself I know I’m not hopeless at maths. I understand basic concepts and I am able to apply them – it is problem solving that stumps me. So why do I then look back on my entire school experience of maths as terrible, frightening and impossible?

Because like most other human beings I dwell on the things I can’t do, rather than take time to think about all the things I can. This is why I am most looking forward to rediscovering my misconceptions and anxieties of maths throughout this module. I have already started to consider maths in contexts outside of school, such as where maths fits into my daily life.

A good example is at dancing. Growing up, I went to dancing to switch off from school, but since starting this module I now realise how the dancing I did linked so closely with mathematical concepts I had learned.


Shape refers to various features in dance. It can refer to the shape of the room or stage you are dancing on. It may also refer to your movements. Usually my dance teachers would try to compare movements to shapes in order to help us picture how our movements should look to the audience. A good example of this is a ‘plie’ in ballet. My dance teacher would always tell us to imagine we were making diamond shape with our legs.

Photo Credit: Kryssia Campos | Getty Images (cited in The Rockettes, 2017)

Shape is also significant in a group dance. Usually the choreographer needs to consider positioning so that everyone can be seen from the audience and to make the dance look more attractive.


Spatial awareness is an organised knowledge of objects including oneself, in a given space. Spatial awareness also involves understanding the relationships of these objects when there is a change of position. Obviously this is complex mental skill, one that children must hone from a young age.” (Morrisey, 2016)

As a dancer, you must make good use of the space around you. I remember as a young dancer my teacher would make me put my arms out to the side to make a T shape with my body and spin around in circles to make sure I couldn’t touch anyone. Of course, by the time I was older they expected me to have a bit more spatial awareness but this is a concept which was developed from a very early age. Spatial awareness in dancing refers to being aware of the dancers around you and also the size and shape of the room to ensure you are making appropriate use of the space you have.


Timing is an extremely important aspect of dancing as you must be able to count beats and recognise rhythms. Most specifically the examinations in the classical styles of dancing, including tap, jazz and ballet, include timing as one of the specific criteria. This is a table taken from the Royal Academy of Dance specifications for Grade 1, which shows that even from the earliest of grades they expect pupils to understand the concept of sequences and timing (sequencing being another important mathematical concept.)

(Royal Academy of Dance: Specification, 2017)

Terminology & Sequences 

Even the terminology used in dance and maths is linked. For example, in ballet there are terms used to describe which position you should be in which include ‘first position’, ‘second position’ and ‘third position’. This uses the basic concepts of number sequences and counting which is one of the first mathematical concepts you are introduced to in school.

These are all concepts that I knew were important in maths and dancing separately, but it has taken me until now to realise how closely they link together. Obviously there are many more concepts I haven’t even touched on, like position and movement, but that shows how many mathematical concepts there are and how relevant they are in day-to-day life. I think this will be a post that as I go through the module I can reflect back on and probably make even more links between maths and my everyday life. I think looking at sports in particular is a great way to make links with mathematical concepts you have learned and you’ll be surprised at how many you can relate to!


How to Do the 5 Basic Positions | Ballet Dance. (2011). (Video) YouTube: HowcastArtsRec.

Morrisey, B. (2016). Spatial Awareness in Young Children. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017]

Royal Academy of Dance: Specification (2017). [ebook] London: Royal Academy of Dance Enterprises Ltd, p.7. Available at: [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017].

The Rockettes. (2017). Ballet 101: How to Do a Plié. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017].




The Importance of Relationships

As practitioners, it is vital for us to always look wider than within a classroom environment. For us to fully comprehend why children behave and respond the way they do, we must firstly understand what triggers their behaviour (which can often stem from their home life and mental development.) Through watching Suzanne Zeedyk and John Carnochan speak about relationships and its importance in terms of behaviour management, I now have a more in-depth understanding of the complexities of behaviour issues in a class.

One key point from these videos is that babies’ brains are extremely flexible, meaning they can cope and adapt to all types of environments. Devastatingly, many children spend the first few years of their lives in abusive, unloving homes, where they lack nurture, love and care. Unfortunately once this key pathway is established, this is usually the pathway that they carry forward into their adulthood. At this age children need consistency in their life which is why school or nursery is often their safe circle; a place they can go to receive nurturing and support.

This is why it is so important for teachers to be adaptive and supportive. We can’t always expect children to come into school and behave perfectly because if they have come from a stressful environment at home they often find it difficult to empathise and connect with people. As teachers, we need to change children’s attitudes and break down barriers so that children understand they do have someone to open up with. Teachers often do this by connecting with other agencies and people in the community who can support the individual even outwith school hours. By spending extra time developing social skills with children needing support, you might be the difference to someone acquiring these essential social skills or not. It is vital for children to feel like they are able to open up and trust you.

Reflecting on Semester 1

After receiving my grades and feedback for my first two modules at university, I am able to reflect on my work for last semester and pick out areas for improvement.

Overall, I enjoyed the Values and Working Together modules and found that they both made me question the way in which I conduct myself as a professional. In particular, I was excited when I managed to find related reading which allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the topics we were studying within each module. However, I do believe I could have looked for more sources outwith the required reading which may have made me see things from a new or contrasting perspective.

I think this may be the reason I achieved a C1 in my Values assignment. Although the content of my assignment was good, I was not using my reading effectively to argue my points or to contrast what theorists had said. I can hopefully improve this grade in my next assignment by focusing more on one topic (rather than trying to cover a range of issues) and do more reading and research related to this topic. By going into depth on one particular issue this would have allowed me to include contrasting perspectives and to analyse them whilst giving my own opinion.

For the Working Together module I achieved a B3 overall (a B2 for my poster and a C1 for the group presentation) which I was happy with. From the feedback I received for the poster, I realised that I needed to include more of an explanation of the theories I was describing so that the marker could understand the concepts. For the group presentation, we needed to make more links with relevant theory throughout our analysis which would have provided more depth. For the next assignment or assessment I realise I must keep the marker in mind when I discuss theories, as they might not have a general understanding of them which may make it difficult for them to understand what I’m analysing or discussing.

I realise how important it is to record my progress in order for me to look back when I write my next assignment to ensure I don’t make the same mistakes. It is vital for my academic progression that I take my feedback on board and use it to improve in my next assignment or assessment.


Why Teaching?

Deciding to become a teacher is a commitment, not only to yourself, but to the wider community; a commitment to help to improve the skills and abilities of young people, whilst providing opportunities which allow them to learn in an engaging and exciting environment. Working with young people in a community outside of school made me realise how eager children are to learn and participate, which encouraged me to pursue the programme of Education at the University of Dundee.

After taking an interest in teaching I knew I would need as much experience as possible, not only in a classroom setting but also outside of school. It was important to me that I could understand how children could be taught in completely different ways. This led me to become an assistant dance teacher at a dance school back home – Simon Says Dance. I was often responsible for leading warm ups and working with groups from ages 3-12.

Having experience of working with such a wide age range within one day of teaching, made me realise how young people progress and develop as they become more mature. I discovered I had to change my attitude and the way I was teaching depending on the age group and/or ability. Not only have I gained so much confidence from working with Simon, I have enjoyed watching pupils also become more confident and actively participate and engage in dance, no matter their ability.

I am now looking forward to gaining more knowledge and experience throughout my degree, which will prepare me for my future as a primary teacher. I am particularly looking forward to the placements I will do throughout my 4 years, where I will be able to put what I’ve learned into practice. Although I have been told being a primary teacher requires constant organising, planning and patience, I have also been told it is the most rewarding job anyone could have and I’m excited to see what the next 4 years will bring!

Simon Says Dance