Author Archives: Kirsty Gallacher

‘I hear of teachers crying on their kitchen floor because of the stress’

This article from tes.com recently popped up on my Facebook news feed. The image that came along with it was a woman sitting on a staircase with her head in her hands. I immediately opened the link to read it.

https://www.tes.com/sites/default/files/styles/news_article_hero/public/news_article_images/iStock_000014713730MediumSTRESS_0.png?itok=yXB4JbMq

https://www.tes.com/sites/default/files/styles/news_article_hero/public/news_article_images/iStock_000014713730MediumSTRESS_0.png?itok=yXB4JbMq

As a budding student teacher, stress is something I do worry a lot about experiencing in my future career. The stress of planning, marking, reaching outcomes, attending meetings, ensuring my pupils are meeting expectations, meeting (and hopefully exceeding) my own.. the list goes on. It’s a stress I know only too well from my last placement: 6 weeks, 5 days of responsibility, what seemed like a million lesson plans, continual assessment (of pupils and of me), daily reflections, weekly reflections, a folder to upkeep, planning and preparing my lesson for my crit for 8 (very, very, very long and stressful) hours. And that was just placement!!! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t reduced to tears on a few occasions. At the time, I put it down to me being an utter cry baby – I cry at corrie on a regular basis – lack of sleep, never-ending workload, and a fear of failing. I almost accepted it as part of the job! I saw no issue with me feeling so stressed, no problem with the fact something I generally loved doing was causing me to feel so under pressure all the time. Is this completely wrong? Should stress really be included in teachings job description?

I understand as a student, we have to do certain things in a certain way that qualified teachers will not, but in retrospect, teachers do everything I was learning to do, all day, 5 days a week, throughout the entire school year. Being constantly watched and assessed, by my class teacher, other members of staff, the pupils, and most of all, my tutor, was difficult but completely mandatory – I was of course a first year student and never taught in a classroom before. BUT – teachers still have to undergo this scrutiny throughout the rest of their career, and their professional development, by fellow teachers, headteachers, the GTCS and HMRI inspections! It’s never ending! Not to mention this is ON TOP of everything else I’ve listed previously. I understand and appreciate it is important for teachers to continually develop, I am making a point that in my opinion it adds to stress. Furthermore, this is only one small part of a teachers day to day obstacles they must overcome.

I’ll always remember in a lecture a few months ago, lecturer Susan Buckman asked us if we thought teaching was a stressful job. Immediately, almost everyone put their hands straight up, including me. She turned round and told us that “it doesn’t have to be”, and that really stayed with me. Reading this article relates a lot with what Susan was saying..

“Teachers, as professionals, expect to work hard but should not be expected to devote every minute of their lives to their work. Teachers need time to relax, to pursue hobbies, to talk to their families and friends. They need time to be human.”  Bousted, M. (2015) 

I think this is so important. Though working extremely hard is part of the job, teachers need time to unwind and as Mary Bousted says above, be human beings! Stress should not take away from what is otherwise an extremely fun, rewarding and valued profession. Although as teachers we have mountains to climb everyday, it should be a fun journey, where a little stress is good, but not enough to amount to crying on the floor. What could be done to ensure this?

This article touches on so much more than I have even began to mention, so please read and see what you think!

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/‘i-hear-teachers-crying-their-kitchen-floor-because-stress’

 

 


References

Bousted, M. (2015) ‘I hear of teachers crying on their kitchen floor because of the stress’. Available at: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/‘i-hear-teachers-crying-their-kitchen-floor-because-stress’ (Accessed: 24 October 2015).

Number Systems

Yesterday in the Discovering Mathematics elective we were discussing number systems and investigating patterns and sequences. We were asked why we have numbers, which – to me – is one of those questions that just makes your mind go completely blank. So, why DO we have numbers? Some say for time and distance – measuring if something is twice as far away, others say numbers are used to make things fair by halving between two people. I think there are far too many possibilities to fit in one answer. Numbers are around us all of the time, from our phone numbers to telling the time, to watching the speed at which you are driving your car. Numbers allow humans to compare, with some anthropologists suggesting that trading created a need for numbers.

Instead of focusing on numbers, we looked at the actual numerals themselves. Numerals as we know them, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0, is only one form used, although probably the most popular, in the world. There are also –

ARABIC NUMERALS

arabic-numbers

http://portlandcoins.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/reading-arabic-numbers-and-dates.html

ROMAN NUMERALS

http://inotiq.pev.pl/roman-numeral-number-answers.php

http://inotiq.pev.pl/roman-numeral-number-answers.php

CHINESE NUMERALS

http://www.chinese-word.com/numbers_1_100/html/

http://www.chinese-word.com/numbers_1_100/html/

Considering the different numerals used worldwide, our activity was to create our own numeric alphabet from scratch. Each numeral’s symbol, the name of the individual numeral and the name of the numeric alphabet had to be completely made up. So we got to work…

We started off with a triangle theme, because we felt like it!

Then when we got to 5, we turned our 1 – 4 numerals upside down..

Then we decided our numerals would simply be called the same as ours, but backwards. The result – Slaremun!

IMG_7591

We decided our numerals would take the same form as ours, e.g, number 10 is made up of a 1 and 0, and 11 out of 1 and 1.

We then put slaremun into a quadratic equation..

IMG_7592

..and it worked! We were so proud of ourselves we had to give our group a round of applause. I definitely think slaremun could be the future number system used worldwide.

 

My Educational Philosophy

I value many things about education which is why I believe I chose to study it at the University of Dundee. I have had a very positive experience throughout my school life and was always in a vibrant learning environment which, at the time, I never really appreciated. I realise now that the fact I have access of the easiest kind to an education is a luxury that not many children in this world have. Once I realised this, the amount in which I valued education increased dramatically.

My teachers have all wholeheartedly cared about not just my success in learning but also me as an individual person, which is very important as it helped me build relationships with them as I grew up. I believe that because I always had support from my teachers and felt inspired to be like them, I have come to credit them hugely and value them as a crucial part in education. This has fuelled my aim to become a teacher, as I would like to one day be a crucial part in someone else’s own education, and inspire them as I have been inspired.

I also value the fact that education helps you accomplish self-improvement. You are always encouraged to improve and develop your own learning which also helps to thrive academically and enhance personal intelligence. By accomplishing your own self improvement and reaching personal goals it can motivate you to further develop skills.

The idea of school can contribute to the enhancement of social skills and allow you to make friends and form social groups. You also have the opportunity to learn a wide range of subjects with the chance to later on specialise in those that you enjoy. This is another thing I value about education as school not only teaches you raw knowledge from books, it also allows you to adapt to society and gain the social skills you will need in later life.

I believe that education is not centred around one specific aspect and should be about a mixture of different things. The ethos of the school is a central part to education and how the importance of the environment within the school can develop and include all of the learners. There must be a level of discipline and behaviour management in order for things to run smoothly and fairly as well as a varied range of subjects to enhance learning as much as possible. As well as the pupils idolising and respecting their teachers, there must be a level of value for the children and young people themselves. Also, education should not only emphasise academia and achieving grades, it should also be about meeting the emotional needs of the individual child and allowing them to enhance their own social skills.

The idea of being a part of this excites me, and spurs me on to do well and finish my Masters in Education and being the teacher I’ve always wishes to be.

Sweden vs UK – Early Years

I recently had a lecture on Comparative Education, and it focused on the difference in Early Years in Sweden compared to the UK. I was completely shocked at the difference, and it really opened up my eyes to how these differences can affect a child’s learning.

First of all, Early Years in Sweden lasts until the child is 6 as they don’t even start school until they are 7! In the UK, kids start school at the age of 4 or 5 regardless of whether they are ready or not. Beginning to learn to read and write at 4? It almost seems impossible and for some children it is, making their time unenjoyable and demoralising even from such a young age as they can’t keep up. It can also cause stress for the teacher as they are having to ensure their class reach certain standards almost straight away. Here in Dundee, kids are thrown into the world of ‘Read, Write, Ink’ almost as soon as they walk through the doors of primary one. At age 4 and 5 in Sweden, they spend half of their day outdoors, climbing trees, singing songs and having fun, which in my opinion is what they SHOULD be doing at that age, building and developing vital social skills – not literacy or numeracy.  More views on the British school starting age here – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7234578.stm

PANews_P-b919d2db-a0fb-460b-9072-28d27f2db361_I1

http://www.independent.ie/world-news/teacher-killed-in-front-of-class-30406953.html

The Scottish Government recently increased the amount of free hours of childcare 3 year olds are entitled to.  This is all fair and well, but it doesn’t help parents who have full time jobs as they still have to pay for extra hours (which is usually a staggering amount), and what about before the child is 3? In Sweden, pre-school centres are open from 6am until 6pm to suit every family’s needs for children aged 1 to 6. Childcare is heavily subsidised by the Swedish Government (Sweden spend on average 3 times more than the UK on nursery education) with parent’s only having to pay approximately #7.50 per child for the WHOLE day – including all meals and snacks. In these pre-schools, each room is extremely decluttered to allow room for play, and gives off a very homely vibe, including a kitchen (which the kids are allowed to access whenever they wish to get a drink or a snack). The children and teachers remove their shoes inside, and eat breakfast and lunch around the table together. In my view this creates such a special, family-like atmosphere in which the children feel safe – an extremely vital part of early years development.

3692535-preschool-environment-in-orebro-sweden

https://www.colourbox.com/image/preschool-environment-in-orebro-sweden-image-3692637

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14038419

In the Swedish curriculum it states that it should not be the child themselves that are evaluated, but the processes of learning. I completely think this is correct, as what is important is not so much the result but the journey. It also contributes to a highly enjoyable learning environment where, the children learn without realising as they are having fun! In the UK, we work towards tests and prepare the child for testing, whereas in Sweden they work towards the individual child. This is so important. The child should always be priority. 

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/26/no-boys-and-girls-at-gender-neutral-preschool-in-sweden/

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/26/no-boys-and-girls-at-gender-neutral-preschool-in-sweden/

In Curriculum for Excellence, there admittedly is more of a focus on outdoor education, which most likely has been inspired by the likes of Sweden or other Scandinavian countries. However, pre school children in Sweden spend at least half of their day outside regardless of the weather; by the lakes and mountains; climbing trees; walking through the woods; sailing across the lakes; building bonfires. As soon as there is a a spot of rain in Scotland the wet lunchtime bell rings. Although I completely admit there is a profound culture difference, I still think Sweden are doing something right. Outdoors, the children are using all of their senses whilst being independent, having fun, and learning key skills. All without the use of follow up work sheets, meeting experiences and outcomes, or using thumbs up as a form of assessment. In my opinion this system sets a brilliant foundation for children’s learning whilst allowing them to be free and letting ‘kids be kids’.

And for those of you thinking that because they start formal schooling nearly 2 years later than us, they must surely be behind us academically? Wrong. Sweden lead the literacy table in Europe. Could this be because of their play centred learning approach in the early years?

Although I know change will not come overnight – it never does – I really hope that one day Scottish Education in the early years becomes similar to Sweden, or at least follows in some of it’s footsteps. Maybe later in my career as a teacher I can be a part of this change. Fingers crossed!

Video linked below:

 

All information from references and video attached.

Alvestad, M. and Pramling, I. (1999) A Comparison of the National Preschool Curricula in Norway and Sweden‟. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 1/2 Downloaded from http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v1n2/alvestad.html#Utbildningsdepartementet98a

Alderson, P. (2008) Young Children’s Rights: Exploring Beliefs, Principles and Practice. 2nd ed. London: Jessica Kingsley Publications.