On the 29th of October 2018- I embarked on my first university placement. I was nervous, terrified and excited all at once. This was a new territory for me as I am originally from the East coast; this meant a big change for me. I was placed in a local catholic school from which I had a short walk each morning. For the first week, I was in with a Primary 4 class and in my second week I was in with a Primary 6 class. I enjoyed my time in my placement and learned many things from this experience that I will use to develop my practice for the future.
A strength that I believe I portrayed well was my facial expressions, each morning I would always smile, welcome the children with a warm “hello”. This really helped me integrate with the class as when I was first introduced, this eased the general class tension. I personally found this to be extremely important as I was guest in the school, therefore, making this a positive experience from the beginning meant that the kids would feel comfortable to ask for my help. Another strength was my body language- I ensured this as from recent learning in our module “situated communication” I am developing my knowledge of good body language. I always tried to seem engaged as this would mirror onto the children.
A developmental weakness I learnt about myself was my lack of confidence especially when working with older years. I felt this stemmed from my height as I am 5’1 ft and I look young, so this made me feel less confident working with the Primary 6’s. I knew this was an irrational fear of mine, yet it did play upon my mind especially one afternoon when there was an elective class with the primary 7’s. Luckily I did have a pair comfy heels I could wear to placement this eased my anxiety a little as I was now the same height as the tallest Primary 6 child. Another developmental weakness I noticed was use of language. I used a lot of filler short words such as ‘erm’, ‘like’ and ‘um’; this is a bad habit of mine especially the word ‘like’ I use this quite a lot. For example in maths, I was explaining to a young girl about when multiplying by then 10 you need to remember to move the decimal place, I found this hard to explain without using these filler words.
My action plan is to take my strengths and develop these even further, but also to work on my weaknesses. To build up my confidence, I spoke to my lecturer and to the teacher I worked with. My lecturer suggested that improving my stance and posture would help me and I would naturally feel more confident. The teacher I worked with also understood my insecurities, and she told me that from her experience, dressing up a little bit more may make someone seem more serious. She stated that when she had taught older years in the past and felt this way, she would buy something like a blazer and she felt she was ‘dressing for business’. To improve my use of conversational filler I could watch my pace and slow down my speaking as I will have more opportunity to think about what I am saying to avoid these habits.