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.
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.
Since starting at university, we have been encouraged to engage with social media in order to gain more access into the world of education. Through browsing various sites, I realised that social media is not only a place for personal accounts but for professional pages also. Firstly, we were shown the ways in which we could use our blog to create our own digital space, then shown how to link this with Twitter. On Twitter I have created a professional account (@JCoventry98) where i can follow hashtags such as #uodedu – this allows me to keep up to date with news surrounding education in Scotland and news from the University of Dundee. I also recently joined a Facebook group – Scottish Primary Teachers – a group where you can ask questions, share your concerns and share resources and ideas. Although I am currently supported by my university, it is comforting to know that when I am faced with a classroom of children on my own I have a group of people I can reach out to. Lastly, I discovered there is a vast amount of Pinterest boards surrounding the topic of education and teaching. Pinterest is particularly useful as you can search for key words to really narrow down results to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. I recently created my own board (Teaching Ideas) to pin important posts I think could be useful as I’m studying to become a teacher or perhaps in the future. I am still discovering new ways in which I can use social media and websites online to enhance my learning and also make me more aware of what’s relevant and trending in education. If anyone has any particular recommendations of websites or have their own Facebook groups, Twitter accounts, Pinterest boards etc., then please leave a comment so I can follow!
After a thought-provoking lecture and an engaging workshop as an introduction to our values module, I was intrigued to find out more about how we define ourselves as individuals. I therefore took interest in the videos recommended to us by our lecturer; ones which would encourage us to think more deeply about the influence we have on society around us.
The first video I watched I found to be extremely inspirational, as a public speaker encouraged the importance of using your voice and, more importantly, the danger of silence. His main message he wanted people to consider was that if you don’t speak up in a socially unjust situation, then you silently allow it and accept it. He touches on the fact that a lot of people don’t use their voice with the fear of being judged or drawing attention to themselves. However, he wanted to make clear that sitting in silence causes more harm than good. You have no idea of the influence your voice has, either on the people around you or on society as a whole.
Another source which I found highly captivating and emotional was the 2015 documentary, ‘HUMAN’. It questions: what is love? what is being rich? what is being poor? what makes us human? It explains how we link together across the globe; how we may come from different countries, cultures and backgrounds, yet we are all fundamentally linked by the fact we are all human beings. This documentary also touches on the point about the importance of using your voice, as every person featured in the film had their own personal stories to share. The documentary really makes us question what we do in our daily lives that may have an impact on the world around us. I felt guilty watching this documentary, knowing the background I come from and knowing that, most of the time, I take what I have, or more importantly, what is given to me for granted.
“Let’s switch for a minute” – One of the last lines in the documentary really hits hard the message that we don’t truly know how other people live. We can watch their struggles on the news, read about it, learn about it, but unless we were put in their situation, living the way they do, we could never truly appreciate the difficulties they face.
I particularly found the first interview emotional as it highlights that who we are as people stems from the way we were raised and how we were brought into the world:
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!