Category Archives: 3.4 Prof. Reflection & Commitment

Placement Jitters

Current mode: panic!

No, not really. However, I am feeling very nervous about placement which begins TOMORROW. I say placement but is, in fact, a “prac”. I arrived in Australia Friday just passed and about to undertake a placement in Somerset College, an International Baccalaureate world school in Queensland!

As well as all of the nerves I felt before my last placement, I’ve accumulated about ten zillion more. Well. Ish. This is a totally different curriculum to Scotland and I am so incredibly excited to learn more about it.  An (unexpected) tour around the school when I was

An (unexpected) tour around the school when I was fresh off the plane has really given me a feel for the place. It is nothing like any of the schools I’ve been in before. It has an Olympic-sized swimming pool (which actual Olympic teams come over to train in!), a massive gym complex, sports fields, running tracks, multiple buildings, hugely facilitated classrooms all on a campus about four times the size of the campus at Dundee Uni! A short introduction to my class and a quick chat with the teacher has given me a little insight into the class dynamics. Lots of excitable little faces that I can’t wait to teach and learn from!

Australia as a place is EXTREMELY HOT. I am boiling, but it is way better than chilly Scotland. I
am very intrigued to learn about how the sun affects the daily routines of the school. I am so excited to learn more about Somerset and Australia, which just happens to have the cutest koalas EVER.

 

 

“Design your own classroom…” YES!!!

As part of our Tutor Directed task for classroom organisation and management, we were asked to design our own classroom.  I was thrilled at the prospect of this. As a young child, and even way into high school, I’d always be excited when walking into a classroom and seeing the tables had been moved around. It just changed the whole environment of the classroom, and even better – you normally got to work with new people!

Here is a floorplan of how I would plan my own classroom – as a teacher.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 14.44.33

This classroom would suit a class size of 28 pupils. For this specific TDT, the class includes 22 boys and 6 girls. There would be 2 girls at each outside table in the row of 4, and one girl at each outside table in the row of 3. This will allow the girls the opportunity to learn to work with the opposite sex, enhancing both their personal and social development. I would not keep them in these seats for every lesson; I would occasionally change the seating plan in maths and language lessons based on ability.

I decided to plan my classroom in this way as it is tidy, organised and safe. There is adequate room to move around between desks and a clear route to the door in case of an emergency. –  3.2.1 Create a safe, caring and purposeful learning environment (GTCS, 2012).

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Area on floor for discussion

This set up makes good use of space. There is an opportunity for whole class lessons to be taught with every child seated at their table, but also space on the floor in front of the Smartboard and whiteboard for more informal  group discussion. The smartboard perhaps for small groups and the Whiteboard for larger groups due Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 19.57.08to the arrangement of furniture. The table in the corner could be used to consolidate with groups of students who need further support before doing a task, or to send pupils off to work together.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.06.28I have included an interactive maths area in my floor plan. I saw this when out on placement and thought it was a great idea. Not only does it promote independent learning, it is a fun and engaging way to get children to go off on their own or with a partner to work on their mental maths. It is also a useful area to send pupils to when they finish their work quicker than expected/their peers.

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“L” Shaped desk – facing the class.

I have placed the teachers desk in the corner facing the class. It is an “L” shape, so she can work effectively whilst still keeping an eye on her class. There is no point working away with your back to a class of pupils – as you will not be effectively observing them working. I feel a desk at the front and centre of the classroom brings in the temptation for a teacher to sit down and teach. Which yes, may be ok on some occasions – but not all of the time.

My classroom would be very bright and open, with a large window behind the teacher’s desk on the West facing wall. This will bring in opportunities for linking to Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.21.21the pupils outdoor learning experiences when they perhaps cannot venture outside.

My classroom resources will be well organised. Down the left-hand side of my classroom, I have plotted where I would have storage facilities for jotters, pencils, paper and miscellaneous resources. This area will be labelled and kept as organised as possible, so pupils and their teacher know where to find the resources they need.

I have included a “reading corner”/library into my classroom plan. I believe by including a libraryScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.28.20 into the classroom, you are highlighting the importance of literacy and reading in their everyday lives. I really like the idea of themed libraries in classrooms. Especially when linked to entertainment. I feel young children should learn to read as a form of entertainment. There are some good examples on Pinterest – click here for my favourite.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.42.49I have incorporated digital technologies to support teaching and learning by including an interactive smartboard, and computers in the corner of the room. They are very useful in bringing all of the pupils learning needs together. Visual learners are benefitted, but so are tactful learners as they can physically interact with the smartboard to learn. They are perfect when incorporating video’s, music and powerpoints in the classroom and do not create any mess! They also have the added bonus of facilitating games, which can always be used as a Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.43.23class reward for good work or behaviour! The computers in the classroom can be used for those faster workers to type up their finished work. But they are also great for those pupils who struggle to put a pencil to paper.  In my classroom the screens are facing the rest of the class – so pupils cannot procrastinate on fun games websites – they have to do what they are supposed to do!

chairsIn regards to health and safety regulations in the classroom, I would ensure the floor is carpeted and in good condition with no corners upturned to prevent trips. All shelves and tray cabinets will be on wheels to prevent injuries linked to manual handling. I would also have non-swinging chairs as kids swinging on chairs is possibly one of the most dangerous things in a classroom!!

The standards also state that an effective use of display should be present. I will have displays of children’s work as well as informative signs. However, I do not want the displays on the wall to be up just for the sake of it; I want them to be interactive to benefit the pupils learning. This could mean incorporating books children can engage with, or add a whiteboard section to reflect on what Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 21.02.34they’ve learnt.

Finally, I will put reward systems on the door. Similarly to my class on placement, I will add a helping-hands-bg“house points” chart on the back of the door. Each child will belong to a “house” and when they get a point, it goes against their name but added to their house total. This way children can regularly keep track on how many points they’ve learnt, and see how they are helping support their house, as you would with a team. There will also be a “helping hands” display – where each hand is a different job (such as a milk monitor or door holder) which children will be matched to with jobs changing weekly.

I feel comfortable now after completing this task that I know reasons behind certain areas in the classroom. I’m more informed now of common classroom set-ups, along with their pro’s and con’s. As a student, the prospect of changing up a classroom really excites me, but I do realise it is important not to change it too often, and that certain pupils may be sat in specific seats for various reasons. This classroom is similar to the one I will be working in on placement in the respects that it has a whiteboard, library and interactive maths area. However, due to the class size on placement being considerably larger, there are no separate tables for group discussions due to an unfortunate lack of space. I am looking forward to developing an understanding of exactly why the classroom is set out in the way that it is during my professional practice.

Here is a link to some really interesting classrooms I found on Pinterest: CLICK HERE.

 

– The General Teaching Council for Scotland (2012) The standards for registration: Mandatory requirements for registration with the general teaching council for Scotland. Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/standards-for-registration-1212.pdf (Accessed: 9 February 2016).

Just Breathe…

When previously considering the role of the teacher, I was guilty of envisioning WHAT they were teaching their class…

Who is really in control of your classroom?

Who is really in control of your classroom?

However, since the very first lecture, it has become very apparent that, yes, the content of a lesson is important, but so is HOW the lesson is delivered.

The presence of the class teacher is important in order to keep control of the class. A strong broad presence projects a great deal of confidence. Whereas a lack of confidence will be apparent to pupils, and they will very quickly learn how to get around your authority.

A great way of establishing your authority is to greet your pupils as they enter your classroom for the day. Simple things such as asking them about something they mentioned they were participating in, or to compliment them coming in will give them a great boost. Even just a smile or a handshake whilst maintaining eye-contact will ensure authority is established before the day begins. It is also extremely useful as it allows you, as a teacher, to spot any child apparently disengaged and obviously not ready to participate in a class lesson. I will definitely be keeping this in mind more placement; especially in terms of my behaviour management goal (detailed here).

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 01.17.08Our voice is our most important tool as a teacher, and as an authoritative figure, it can be damaged fairly easily if we do not take adequate care of it. Many teachers think by talking louder, the children’s attention will be gained quicker, but this is not always the case. It is a natural reaction to shout in reply to bad behaviour but there are other ways of getting the desired attention and behaviour. These include things such as patiently waiting for silence, using  hand gestures or praising the pupils who do comply. By adapting tone and using expression, we can gain our pupils attention just as effectively. Other ways of doing so are by varying our volume, pace and pitch. I feel this will affect my goal of time management in regards to my planning. I will do my best to improvise around disruptions to resolve them and minimise the chance of them happening again.

So yes, our voice is a very important tool in the classroom. Because of this, we need to take care of it! Voice problems are very common such as hoarseness, sore throats and a need for constant throat clearing.

To prevent any problems, teachers should ensure they warm up their voice before the teaching day begins. Interestingly, one of the easiest ways to do so is simply to yawn! But obviously, not in front of your pupils! Vocal exercises are also very effective! Here is a very easy to follow video with some vocal warm-ups: Click Here

If any problems do arise, throat pastilles and breathing steam are life-savers!

I found a few breathing exercises brought up in Nikki Doig’s lecture very interesting. By placing Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 01.13.03your hands above your hips (with your fingers pressed in under your ribs) breathe in through the nose for 3 seconds, hold it for three seconds and then slowly breathe out for three seconds. This is a great relaxation technique! It also alerted to me that I was not breathing correctly! I am very guilty of allowing myself to breathe out of my chest more than my stomach, which can cause a lot of strain! Definitely something I need to re-think before entering the classroom to ensure I am not straining myself.

 

edit **I just taught my dance class with basically no voice. It was a nightmare but definitely goes to show how important voice care is. It was also VERY interesting to see how using a quiet tone of voice can actually be more effective!**

 

5 6 7…… DANCE!

I can’t think of anything in this world I am more passionate about than dance. It is literally everything. Understandably so, when I seen dance on the timetable I was ecstatic.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 02.58.42I’ve danced since the age of 3. I’ve been through phases of loving it and hating it – but I honestly don’t know where I would be without it. The places I’ve been and the experiences I’ve had through dancing are incredible, and I’d encourage anyone and everyone to give it a go.

I’ve seen all the sides of it, from different genres to the competition world, championships, shows, international performances, tattoos – you name it. Dance gave me the confidence to keep trying. If I was asked five years ago if I thought I’d be performing in the Royal Edinburgh Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 02.56.28Military Tattoo, or travelling to amazing places such as Oman, Sweden and Germany to perform – of course, my response would be “NO WAY I COULD NEVER DO THAT.” But yes, I did, and I now know that amazing things can be achieved with the right mindset and support.  How did I come to this, though? THROUGH DANCE!

Dance has more benefits than just learning correct technique. The social skills learnt are equally as important, especially to young children. They learn how to respect other dancers as well as their teacher/choreographer, and officials Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 03.00.30when in a competition setting. As a teacher with my own dance school, I thoroughly enjoy watching my students form relationships with each other and seeing their social skills strengthen along with their dancing. Not only that, but they learn to deal with success as well as failure (and how to deal with it), time management, and how to take on board corrections to practice in their own time. Nothing is more encouraging than seeing one of your pupils succeed, but at the same time just seeing them enjoying the process is amazing.

With my understanding of the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes for Dance, I would put into place an exciting lesson for a primary 5 class, such as:

CfE Outcome: “I can explore and choose movements to create and present dance, developing my skills and techniques.” – EXA 2-08a

Learning Intentions: By the end of the lesson, I will be able to perform a short sequence I have choreographed myself using different actions, different levels and using different rhythms.

Success Criteria: To create a short sequence to music incorporating different levels, ways of travelling and different rhythms. (To develop this in the next two years, the introduction of motifs and choreographic devices such as canons, interpretation and repetition will build on the intentions of this lesson.)

Assessment: To assess if the pupils have achieved the success criteria I would have small groups present their work to their peers and make use of peer evaluation.

How will I achieve this: I will incorporate short activities aimed at introducing the three criterion for success, One activity will involve learning different ways to travel making good use of space across a room. Another will introduce how to incorporate different levels, and what can be done to make them effective. To develop an understanding of rhythm, I would use a clapping activity; simply clapping different rhythms, be it perfect rhythms, imperfect half beat rhythms – to music.

A positive experience of dance is key to enjoying it and I am extremely excited to bring it into my lessons in the primary.

Dancing is moving to the music without stepping on anyone’s toes, pretty much the same as life. ~Robert Brault

Facebook Fakebook

google-logoAn interesting input with Sharon led to me discovering a whole host of new search engines. Who knew there was more to the internet than google?!? I think these child-friendly search engines such as Kidsclick and Askkids will be absolute lifesavers for me in the ICT suite.

I have now been introduced to a number of internet safety sites which will be an integral part to my teaching. Safety online is absolutely paramount.

Kidsmart (http://www.kidsmart.org.uk/beingsmart/) is an interactive website where children canScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 03.31.50 learn how to be safe online. It even has sections for teachers and parents – perfect!! Children can use this website to share their drawings and play games online, all centred around being cyber safe! This is a fantastic site that can be engaged with as a teacher, as well as introducing pupils to engage as well as their parents.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 03.33.52We were also introduced to a website called Fakebook. Set out like Facebook but of fake profiles – mostly famous figures. This is a fantastic resource that can be used in the classroom.

I would, for example, use it within a History context. Bringing together both ICT and History!

A figure such as Otto Frank could be used when researching the Second World War. As a teacher, I would create a profile (As if it was actually Otto). By doing so, the children could learn his birthday, where he stays, who his family are and so on.

The classic Facebook themed timeline is perfect for History. As the lessons progress, the teacher could update the class on what Otto Frank and his family are doing – helping them engage in the history of the Franks.

I feel this would be very effective. By using something they are currently being brought around, they will see it as something relatable and want to be involved. It could possibly have its downfalls, however – as adverts do pop up and it is hard to know what they will be before you click on something. These challenges are something we will face regularly, and something asICT-in-School-Wordle-1456uj2 simple as adblockers could prevent.

When I was in a primary 4 class in my sixth year at school, the subject the kids were most passionate about was ICT. As teachers, we need to realise this and ensure we are equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in this digital age.

 

Did you just say… MATHS???!

Well………… Where to start?

Maths has never been a totally positive experience for me. I’ve gone through school constantly being Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 00.40.37told I perform better at English than Maths; and boy, don’t I know it. From moving primary school and not having a clue in the slightest what I’d done and where I should be at, to being sat in front of the brainiest person ever in Standard Grade at high school. One of the worst moments that has really stuck in my mind would have to be seeing the look on my tutors face when she thought I’d taken maths at Higher; honestly – I thought the woman had just had a heart attack. (Luckily, she was a family friend and she was joking, but I still took it to heart)

In our workshop today, we were asked to write down, on a scale of 1 to 10 how confident we are with the subject. My paper, however, did not have enough space to the left of the scale to answer accurately. Like yes, that’s an obvious exaggeration, but I do know I have a lot of work to do regarding my confidence with the subject. The same worried look was obvious on a lot of other’s faces, as well as an obvious excitement to hopefully get over our fear.

I’m unsure why I get so anxious regarding maths. There is no reassurance, though, as apparently getting an A and a 2 in the subject suddenly means I am good at it……. nope. I can fully support the claim that when a teacher dislikes the subject, so do you. In my early years, I can barely remember maths; never mind having enthusiastic lessons on the subject. This avoided ness has sort-of, rubbed off on me – and I don’t think I will ever forgive myself for letting that happen. Just as Derek Haylock (2008) states, my teachers simply went through the motions of working through set textbooks – there was no fun and engaging activities that I see my sisters enjoying now.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 00.39.38Today, I really enjoyed hearing about how maths can be used across the curriculum. I’d have had a way more positive outlook on maths when I was younger if I’d been told at the end of a P.E lesson that what I was actually doing was maths whilst timing my friends, measuring the tracks distance and counting reps. I would have been way more engaged when it came to the subject If it was highlighted that things such as working out coordinates on a map, measuring liquids in science and making patterns in art, were also MATHS. When I am teaching, I will definitely relate all my learning to practical situations; whether I am in the classroom or outdoors doing an activity. I think it is very important to make connections to consolidate learning.

I took a lot from today’s input. I am excited to learn more about engaging ways to learn. Things such as using interactive whiteboards, practical maths, and especially highlighting when it is being used in other areas of the curriculum. Reflecting on my own experience, I think the most important thing for me is to most definitely NOT teach maths in the way I was taught. I do not want any other child to go through school with a fear of maths like I did. It is up to me as a teacher to remove the maths anxiety in my pupils. To do this, I am going to engage with the OMA, as well as brushing up on my maths in my own time when I get the chance – in the hope of seriously improving my confidence. I feel that my fear of the subject will help me in teaching it as I know what it feels like to struggle with maths. This will, therefore, help me understand the importance of allowing some people working through things slower than others in order to fully understand. I can also see the importance of not only explaining things slowly, logically, clearly and in an interesting way; mathbut also to evaluate – to remember how the answer was reached. I do want to go into the classroom with the best of knowledge, though, not only of the subject but of the different ways to engage pupils to ensure I am teaching it effectively. Tara’s enthusiasm is striking, and it has given me hope that I too can become as enthusiastic as she is about maths. I want to, and I WILL learn to love it as much as she does – whatever it takes.

 

Maths may not teach us how to add love or subtract hate, but it gives us every reason to hope that every problem has a solution. – A very thought provoking quote from today’s input.

 

Haylock, D. W. (2005) Mathematics explained for primary teachers. 3rd edn. London: Sage Publications.

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Our Arms

 

The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839477

The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839477

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.