Category Archives: 2.2 Education Systems & Prof. Responsibilities

Opening Our Arms


The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.

The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.

As the first plane of Syrian refugee’s touches down in The United Kingdom today, I feel it is important to reflect on how positive it is that our country has opened its arms to these people in their time of need. Britain has agreed to take in around 20,000 refugees over the next five years, which I feel is fantastic. It is amazing when countries step in to help at times like this, and even more amazing that this time it is us.

As most of the refugees coming over are families and are due to resettle in various local authorities across Scotland, I feel it is appropriate to reflect on what this means for us as teachers. These refugees will be in need of specialist medical care and specialist support to help them through any issues derived from the violence and torture they have experienced. There are already places within schools set aside for them.

A lot of these children would have been forced to quit school if they were even lucky enough to be there in the first place. We will have to be aware as teachers, that these pupils are likely to be learning English as their second language. This will face us with certain challenges. We will have the additional factor that their understanding on the English language may not be as developed as the rest of their classmates, as well as the fact that they will be at a disadvantage socially due to the language barriers.

self-esteem-and-mathThese children will also have experienced loss all around of them, and lost connection with a lot of their friends and family. This will have had a very negative effect on their self-esteem and confidence. As teachers, we have the responsibility to recognise this and put into effect support strategies to support these children in this difficult time.

A way in which we can do this is “buddy” systems. This will help them get to know their peers, and ensure they are not lonely at times such as breaks and lunch. Children may feel secluded as their parents may not want to bring them along to after school activities when it is dark – so it is essential they are given a good opportunity to socialise during these breaks within the school day.

In countries such as Syria, schools are often targeted by terrorist activity. We need to make sure these children coming into our UK schools know that they are now in a safe environment.

It’s heart-breaking to think about what they’ve been through, but there is the chance that their past experiences may have an effect on their behaviour. Children may be distant, and refuse or even become frightened around strangers, so a close eye will have to be on them in the early days to ensure they are settling in and coming well. Struggles may also be apparent when they are placed within large groups, they may need one-to-one support before they can build up the confidence to take part in whole class activities.

ok_to_move_forwardWe should never ask children to re-live these traumatic experiences, ever. No matter whether it is a written exercise, homework exercise, or ANYTHING. We should also make sure they are never questioned by any other staff or child as to why they are here. They deserve to be in school getting educated as much as everyone else.

Most importantly of all, we need to provide a school experience for these children that is positive and welcoming. These children have a lot to offer and have been through so, so much to get here.

The Interpretation of Dreams

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 19.04.49Sigmund Freud, an Austrian psychologist, was keen on neurological psychology. His study into the Interpretation of Dreams brought him to the conclusion that our dreams are essentially wishes we want to fulfil. Freud believed that what we dream is what is subconsciously of particular importance to us. I chose to read further into his findings, as from a young age I have always been fascinated with dreams.

Freud believed that in our early years, our dreams expressed our infantile wishes. One example of this is our dreams about the death of a same-sex parent. As shocking as this sounds, this is normal for babies; as they see their same-sex parent as a threat. Freud believed that dreams allow us to express other wishes and desires, such as:

  • imagesThe desire for a loved one’s presence, even though they are deceased
  • The desire to return to childhood
  • The desire for impossible revenge
  • The desire for sleep as an escape

Freud did, however, argue that symbols within dreams had the same significance for everyone. Which surely, cannot be right? Everyone is different, and we all have different experiences and ways of expressing things. So the same symbol within two completely different contexts must have different meanings. There are also arguments that his work is too generalised, there are no specific findings.

He does say that these symbols that appear a lot, may hold the same meanings, but depending on the context of the dream and the person interpreting it the conclusions may be different. The main symbol Freud analysed is the sexual symbol. These symbols are what is keeping the technique of interpreting dreams going. It is useful in many psychiatric situations to analyse dreams as the patients “dream-thought” are, a lot of the time, thoughts they have pushed to the back of their minds.

Itfitnat_dd_3 is interesting to know that many of the dreams Freud analysed were actually his own. In order to make it as accurate as possible, Freud wrote down these dreams as soon as he woke up. On one occasion, he could even see links from the events in the day before within his dream. It became apparent that people in Freud’s everyday life were also those appearing in his dreams. As a doctor, a lot of his dreams turned out to be linked with medical mistakes he had made, bringing him to the conclusion that he was subconsciously trying to get rid of his guilt about these incidents, through his dreams.

His overall conclusion was that our dreams are essentially wishes we want to fulfil, as previously mentioned. His theory was that every dream had latent content (including wishes), and manifest (simply the opposite of a wish fulfilment). The latent content of dreams could then only be remembered through free-association (consciously thinking about something at your own free-will).

As a teacher, we should be aware that our dreams may indicate things we may perhaps not have noticed in our everyday life’s. They can also be an indicator of stress or nerves, which we would then obviously have to address. Our dreams will be very different from our pupils. If we ever hear a pupil describing a dream, especially one in which triggers any worries – we should perhaps not look over the fact it was “only a dream”. Something caused that child to dream that dream!

Here’s a video summarising his complete theory:


Our self-esteem is the confidence we have in our personal worth and different abilities. Self 1deserveoneCOLCPesteem is something we all have, but different people have different levels of it; some people may be lacking in it, and others may have a healthy amount of it.

Having a good positive balance of self esteem is essential as a teacher. We need to have it in order for it to rub off on those around us, especially our pupils. It is also important to us as individuals – we need to be confident in ourselves as well as our teaching.

A person with a healthy self esteem is likely to excel in more things, as they will not have any negative feelings towards their ability. These people are also more likely to pull through difficult times in life easier, or even something as small as trying and conquering something they are not yet competent at.

Someone with a low self esteem will typically, whether they realise it or not, be a very negative person. This may, however, only be towards themselves, as esteem does predominantly affect a person’s own self worth.

Susan Harter measured self esteem in children through asking two different questions:

  • What do you think you should be like? 630px-Be-a-Good-Child-Step-6
  • What do you actually see yourself to be?

By asking these two questions, she could tell whether or not the children believed they were living up to their own expectations. She came to the conclusion that if they saw themselves as what they thought they should be like – they had a high self esteem. If they did not, there is a need for a support system around them in the form of peers, parents, and us, their teachers.

However, her method is not completely beneficial as there are things she has not accounted for. Just because a child has a loving supportive family surrounding them does not automatically mean they will have a high self esteem. We have no idea, initially, of the pressures said family may be putting on their child to do well. There is also the fact that she states a child with no peer support will have a low self esteem. This is completely not true. Some children thrive being on their own and may just have different ideas of socialising from their peers. Obviously as teachers we need to ensure these children join in, but if a child wants to sit and draw during their free time, I do not feel there is a need to force them into things such as football.

As teachers, we need to ensure the way we communicate with our classes affects our pupil’s self esteem. By simply giving everyone the same feedback to their answer in front of everyone we are not identifying who is excelling and who is necessarily wrong. It is important as children pick up on the language we use. Wall (2004) interviewed some children on how they felt within their class setting. One child responded, “Well if everybody’s got their hand up, he normally first chooses the top two tables… I think it’s because he knows that they will probably get the answer right first time…” It is so important from this didacHtic way of teaching, the way it is mainly teacher focused and is based on the telling of right or wrong answers, that these pupils are getting a good sense of their worth within the classroom. These children who are never getting asked questions, or who are getting them wrong are having their self-esteem knocked down tremendously. It is important that we, as student teachers should learn from things like this, and ensure we give consideration to the self esteem of those within our classroom. We need to identify who needs a little confidence boost, and perhaps a bit more support.

But how do we do this? How do we identify the child’s level of self esteem? 

cartoon-confidence-confident-crying-insecure-favim_com-238761Many people mask their self esteem through an air of false confidence. Children are however not as good at this. A child will generally show signs of defeat much sooner. Through a child’s early childhood, they have a high self esteem; as they have not begun comparing themselves to others and have not had anything to knock them back. When growing throughout their development, they begin to gain a greater sense of self-awareness; and when they are around the age of 7/8 their self-esteem becomes more defined.

As a teacher, we should ensure each child’s goals are specific to them; and most importantly – reasonable. However, they should not be allowed to succeed at everything, they need to experience failure in some way shape or form. If they don’t, it will hit them harder in later life. We should match their work to their ability, give them positive praise, and most importantly, be a role model. As this model, we should ensure we model failure to them. If they see it is ok for us to fail at things we are working towards (and still continue trying) – they too will adopt this attitude.

So yes, we can identify a child’s self esteem. We will be with them for hours on end five days a week, they will not be able to hide all that time. Their true characteristics will be visible to us. We should ensure we give them the chance to have a voice, and also ensure they are involved in their own learning journey; in order to keep up their self-worth and most importantly become confident learners.

What is personality?

In today’s input by Patricia, I found the aspect of personality very intriguing.

Personality, as quoted in Bee and Boyd (2012, p 218) is “The individual’s enduring patterns of responses to and interaction with others and the environment.” 

Personality is a very difficult area to study, as everyone is different.

There are five different dimensions of personality traits:

  • Extraversion (opposite to introversion)
  • Agreeableness (warm/compassionate or cold/distant)
  • Openness (Ability to imagine, be insightful and question things)
  • Conscientiousness (our impulse control)
  • Neuroticism (stability/instability of emotions)

An ambivert is someone who is both an introvert and an extrovert. One test of this was by Grant. He assumed that sales persons would be better if hey were extroverts. However, he found that it was actually the ambiverts that were, as extroverts can be too loud, overconfident and come across as cocky.The ambiverts were better as whilst they were confident in themselves and their role, they were also able to be quiet and listen to the needs of customers.Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 14.17.58

I took an online test to figure out whether I am an introvert, extrovert or an ambivert.

The result (pictured right) is that I am not either introvert or extrovert, I am in fact an ambivert; in-between the two. I totally agree with this, as I am an outgoing person, but at the same time I do like to have some “me-time!”

There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.’  – Carl G Jung

This is easy to agree with. Someone who lacks in social skills will not be able to function properly in society. Likewise, someone who is overconfident and overly-clingy will have the opposite problem. I would however not use the term “lunatic asylum”.

The five big personality traits:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 18.51.11





If I was to rate myself on these I would say:

  • Extraversion – 6
  • Agreeableness – 9
  • Openness/intellect – 8
  • Conscientiousness –7.5
  • Neuroticism – 7

Since I was a child, I do not feel my personality has changed much. I am still the same outgoing bubbly independent person, who still likes to have time to myself. What I would say is I’ve become more confident in myself and really began to understand my own personality more over the past few years.

However, is personality predetermined by nature?

NatureNurtureThere are some genetically determined characteristics that we are born with, and differences in personality are termed physiological. There have been some tests with identical twins, which has found they have the same personality traits. This is also the case with normal siblings – even though most of us assume we are completely different to our siblings. There is a dip in the personality expression in terms of physiological processes. Everyone has a stable temperament and disposition from childhood right through to when they become an adult, and the environment plays a part in influencing or modifying how our temperament changes.

What about the other side of the argument, nurture?nurture

Yes, how we are brought up plays a big role in the way we learn how to act. Often our traits are
gained through observations and are termed “learned behaviours”. I believe nurture plays a large role in developing our personalities. If your mother is outgoing, you will subconsciously grow to act the same as her. Another example of this, is you are unlikely to have shy parents who do not communicate well raising a very outgoing child. A shy child in a new situation will show signs of muscle tension, an increased heart rate and dilated pupils. They are born with this disposition towards physiological processes. The cerebral cortex of these shy/anxious children is thicker. Out temperament and disposition become stable, and our experiences shape this.

The behaviourist principles of personality development is a very interesting learning theory. The principles include:

  • Strengthening behaviour through reinforcement
  • Reinforcing said behaviour intermittently to result in better learning
  • If reinforced too often, it will not be effective.

It is important not to reinforce negative behaviours. If they know they will continue to get attention from behaving in a certain way (E.g. badly) they will continue to do it, reinforcing this behaviour.It is also better to reinforce intermittently. Doing it every time will cause them to lack motivation as they will know they don’t need to work to get praise. By praising occasionally, they will be motivated to work harder. This is an interesting lesson for teachers. It takes a while to influence a child’s behaviour so it is important that in the process we are enforcing the correct behaviours.

Bandura’s Social learning theory

Bandura’s Social learning theory is built upon the idea of modelling. Modelling is when we observe someone, and copy their behaviours.

( e.g. If a child grows up in an area where everyone acts the same; such as where people shoplift and vandalise; the child will learn this behaviour through the process of modelling, can be a motivation to learn behaviour.

This “modelling” is when we strengthen our behaviours through constant reinforcement. These reinforcers cause personality to develop through both cognitive and physical factors.

The self-efficiency aspect is when we consider how we feel about ourselves and our own standards. People who are self-efficient are those likely to go right away from a lecture and complete the associated TDT. Those who don’t go away and do this may not do so for reasons such as they are not confident enough, or that “no one else is” – these people have low self-efficiency.

These behaviours are reinforced by parents, who model a child’s “internalised standards”. E.g. a tidy house is a standard of learning.

Bandura’s model is based on a process of observation, imitation and internalisation; along with cognitive, physical and motivational factors.Learning-by-Watching-Social-Cognitive-Theory-and-Vicarious-Learning

The four conditions that need to be met are:

  • Paying attention
  • Remembering
  • What can be physically copied
  • Motivation to imitate

This theory can be analysed whilst considering learning a new sport. You need to be able to pay attention to what you are doing, if you cannot do this you will not know what they are doing in order to move on and develop the next condition. You need the ability to remember a breakdown of the sport and all the different parts of it, in order to piece together what your role in it requires you to do. If you cannot do this, you will be physically poor at the sport- which is the next step. Different things can be copied, the most important being the movements. However by observing a professional it is hoped that we will subconsciously learn their confidence and good techniques. Our motivation to imitate is our initial desire to attempt the sport. If we are not motivated o try, we will have no desire to learn and, therefore, take nothing away from the observation. By only observing, we won’t remember or be able to physically copy what the person is doing.

Freud’s Theory of Personality is initially based on the idea of sexual needs.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 18.53.01 I do not agree with the age stages within Freud’s stages of development, as I feel his view that we stop developing at the age of 18 is, well, crazy. I’m only 18 at the moment and I feel, especially in terms of my personality that I have a lot more developing to do. Also, none of his stages are backed up with scientific evidence. In fact, most of his clients were actually middle aged Vietnamese women. Many elements are right, but are difficult to test making this theory very hard to prove or disprove.

 Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 18.59.53

Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development is based on the concept of ego-identity. Erickson states that the successful completion of each stage, leads to a healthy progression into the next one. It also helps create a good personality and very successful social skills. The theory does state that failure of a stage hinders development, which is questionable.

I do not fully agree with this, as things that go wrong can be resolved, and this theory is very hard to prove or disprove due to a lack of scientific testing. The quote “life begins at 40” comes into mind. This makes sense in accordance with this theory, as by 40, we have developed all our personality traits.

I agree with the fact that Erickson’s theory goes right up to the ages of 40+. This is interesting, especially when thinking about the phrase “life begins at 40”. As according to Erickson that we have developed almost all our personality traits by then, maybe this is true?

This Is very relatable and makes a lot of sense in a lot of ways. It is very understandable that trust is built up in the first year of life. Also, that tivities become goal orientated around age 4-5, which I can personally relate to as I see my little sister going through this phase at the moment.

I do however disagree on providing an approximate age scale. Yes, it is good to know where children should be at what age, but even a slightly different wording to “suggested age scale” would make it less stressful for parents who’s children are not quite at the right development for their age (within reason, obviously).

I believe it is important we learn about personality so we can take this knowledge into the mpd
classroom and be able to identify the different personality traits of our pupils. This will allow us to spot signs of slower development and identify poor behaviour styles.

This will have a positive aspect of the child’s development in the classroom as they will get more direction from a teacher who understands their personality. It may even help forming that relationship a little easier.

What standards we should be attaining as student teachers?

smartboardThe General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has their own standards for registration. These are split into two parts, The Standards for Provisional Registration (SPR), and The Standard for Full Registration (SFR). These are a series of standards put in place to make clear how teachers should act, and the values they should possess as a professional. For those of us looking forward to when we apply for Provisional Registration, it is good to use as guidance and support.

The SPR lays down what is expected of us as student teachers, and we should use it to shape ourselves into the teachers of the future. It is stated that once you have gained the SPR, and then the SFR, you should continue to develop yourself as a person. These standards are set down to set us up for a “Career of lifelong learning”.

The professional standards we are seeking to attain are vital in shaping us into the best teachers we can be.

It is interesting that the code is essentially the criteria we need to meet to ensure we are fit to A GOOD TEACHERteach. I find it very beneficial that the document States the Professional Values and Personal Commitment that I should have as a teacher. These include:

  • Social Justice
  • Integrity
  • Trust and Respect
  • Professional Commitment

I like how it goes into great depth about which areas we should be knowledgeable about, such as the curriculum, teaching programmes and assessments. It is very helpful that it has a breakdown of the things within education policy (such as laws and legislations), as well as the education system we should be aware of as students.

The standards do however state that we should have high expectations of all learners (3.1.4). Whereas I do feel our expectations should be relatively high, is it not unrealistic to have high expectations of everyone? Not everyone has the same abilities, and expectations should be specific to each individual learner.

Within a separate document, The Student Teacher Code, there are different rules laid down. I didn’t realise that after we gain the SFR, as well as having our PVG’s and by that time tonnes of experience in the classroom, the GTC STILL assess our fitness to teach. I do however understand the seriousness of a criminal conviction, and agree with GTC’s need to investigate any allegations.

downloadI found the “Key Principles of the Student Teacher Code” Very helpful. They state that as a student we should be good role models, make our pupils our main focus, and be respectful of others along with a few others.

When we are working with pupils we should show good moral values. Part 1 of the code is about how we work with pupils. It contains points about us having to keep sensitive information confidential, and that we should be a role model in EVERYTHING we do and say. I like the way they have written this into an easy to read document.

Part 2 is about how us as a student teacher works with others. As I took the Working Together module for my elective, it is nice to see the=is document including the importance of working cooperatively with those in other professions. I also think it is fair that it states you should not comment on other teachers or professionals within the educational community. I can only imagine the damage this could cause and I would not wish it on anyone.integrity_definition

Part 3 is mainly about how we should be honest and show integrity as a student teacher. Whilst
reading this part of the comment, it is very evident that a lot of these points. No matter what profession I could have chosen to go into I would never engage in criminal behaviour. I also find it very upsetting that some serious offences must have taken place in the past for some of these points to be added to this document. The point on social networking stands out a lot. I agree as professionals we should definitely be careful of how we portray ourselves on social media. We do not want our reputation ruined. 

Overall, the whole Student-Teacher Code is beneficial in highlighting how we should and should not act as professionals. The importance of equality and diversity are extremely important, especially when considering the Equality Act (2010). I can see how this code coincides with the standards for provisional education, which are both very useful documents.

How do we even teach a child how to read and write?!

learn-to-write-crawlerIn my previous blog posts, I spoke of language acquisition and the importance of things such as grammar. What is important when teaching a child how to read and write? Well, the most influential factor is their phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is the ability to understand the different rules around the sounds of a language. It also involves having knowledge of the way in which sounds are connected, and how this is represented when put down in writing.

phonics-abc-jumpIt has been stated that children who are more phonologically aware between the ages of 3 and 5 will be better at reading and writing later in life(Adams, Trieman, & Pressley, 1998). By teaching small children phonological awareness before they start school, their reading skills will be at a higher level that that of their peers who have no phonological awareness.

Children do not have to learn about phonological awareness in early childhood, they can learn in the nursery and the early years. Children will also be more confident if phonologically aware, and may often use invented spelling when attempting to write and spell new words. Although this spelling will be wrong, it is found that they will become better at spelling, reading and writing than their peers later in life. The best way to encourage them to engage in phonics is through fun activities involving “play” styled learning.skitched-14-6-1-1

Once children begin the basic reading process they begin to learn about the different parts of words (e.g. prefixes and suffixes). This will help them become more efficient in their reading.

The strategies used to teach reading can also be incorporated into helping children learn how to write. For example, when writing there are sound-symbol connections which are also important when learning to spell, but also how to read. 

Phonics-lesson-008No matter what teachers do, there is always some children that fall behind their peers in literacy. There are connections between poor readers and sound-letter combinations (Agnew, Dorn, & Eden, 2004; Gonzalez & Valle, 2000; Mayringer & Wimmer, 2000). It is also found that children with reading difficulties benefit largely from specific phonic lessons. Teachers need to reflect on the effectiveness of their approach and change it if necessary to fit the individual needs of the students.


The term “feedback” means helpful information which is used in ways to either praise or criticize your work. It is important in order to motivate you to continue, and in some instances, try harder. It is also useful is instances of criticism to get someone else’s view (through constructive criticism), to help you identify which areas to improve and how to do so.

fbThe feedback I received was very positive and I took it to be a positive experience. It gave me confidence that what I am doing is right, and that others can relate to it and agree with my thoughts. It was carefully constructed and I could tell the person had taken their time to read my post and really think about it, which is great to think. I agree fully with the feedback I was given, I took my time to ensure I covered all areas of the success criteria, so they fact they picked up on this is very beneficial to my confidence. However so far at this moment in time I have not been picked up on any areas for improvement. I am sure there are many, and I can understand it is not a nice experience to criticise your peers and therefore very easy to accidently avoid doing so…

Initially I felt great giving peer feedback as I know it is a great confidence boost to hear positive things about your work. As I went on though, I began to realise that where my feedback will be making people feel good, it isn’t highlighting to them any areas for them to improve. i then began delving deeper into people’s posts to try and word things in the nicest way possible which made the situation much easier. Most people however had such fantastic posts I was literally sitting with what I would compare to writer’s block!

From carrying out this task I have learned that whilst it is important to highlight where people are going well, it is of equal importance to give constructive criticism. I have also learned it is very hard to tell your peers of the criticisms you have picked up on. This will be applicable further into my studies when I begin working closer with my peers. When it comes to reading over their work, I will definitely consider what I have learned from this when giving them pointers!

This is also relevant to the classroom. Children do not want to be bombarded with corrections s s was it is likely to defeat them and cause them to lose all hope with their learning. As a pupil at primary, my teachers always used “two stars and a wish” on my word. This is an effective strategy of peer feedback which ensures both praise is given and constructive criticism. There are also other methods similar to this that I was unaware of. One which struck me to be very interesting is “plus, minus, and what is next?”, involving a praise, a criticism, and a pointer of what to do to improve further. There are so many strategies for feedback it is amazing the amount of different ways you can give it.

Overall I find feedback a seriously effective strategy. I feel it is important to give praise in order to motivate pupils, but it is also important to give constructive criticism. Without giving someone a pointer of how to improve, what is the point of the initial feedback in the first place? (Obviously apart from the obvious motivational purposes.) Everyone wants to know how to improve in one way or another.

A little more insight into feedback in the classroom…