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).

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 19.50.17

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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.11.38

“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: (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 ( 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.

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.

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.

Word Learning

What are the trends in word learning over the first two years?

Children initially learn words in stages, the first being the pre-linguistic stage. Each singular language, such as English or Italian, has various different dimensions. These are things such as the different uses of language, such as to communicate, the sound patterns each individual language uses and the rules that govern these patterns. These are all known as phonology. Semantics are they ways in which language represents meaning. The rules used to combine words in a language, is the syntax. These terms are all commonly used when describing the development from the early preverbal stage to the stage of linguistic fluency.

This is apparent through observing chimpanzees (Savage-Rumbaugh et al., 1993). They learn to nim-sign_1964009c (1)
communicate through sign language and the process of pointing to sequences of symbols. they can do this, and are good at it, but it takes a great deal of effort to teach them to use other expressive forms of language such as symbols signs and sounds that communicate meaning. Any parent will tell you that once you teach a child how to speak, you will never be able to get them to be quiet ever again! This is due to the fact that the process of language development begins months before a baby even utters her/his first word. This period of time within these few months is the prelinguistic phase.

By the time a child reaches around 12 months, they will typically have started using their first word (Fenson et al,. 1994). Within the next six months, children will increase their vocabulary to around 30 words. Early word learning is very slow and requires a lot of repetitions. Ronald Schollon (1976) studied a little girl named Brenda, and found she used a singular specific word for more than one thing. One example of this being the word “nene” for milk, juice AND her bottle.

The Naming Explosion is another trend that happens between 16-24 months of age which children begin to add new words rapidly. Elizabeth Bates and her colleagues found that a rapid vocabulary growth is not restricted to the language of English, it is the same in other languages. After repeating words a few times, it is easier for children to connect them to different situations. However, other cross-linguist researchers suggest that English speaking parents emphasise nouns more than verbs when reading and speaking to children, compared to Korean-speaking parents who do not. This suggests the noun-before-verb  learning pattern may be influenced by different language characteristics as well as the behaviour of the speaker.

Later word learning happens during the pre-school years when children begin adding words at much higher speeds, with a rise of up to 10 words a day (Pinker, 1994). Researchers believe this “speeding up” of the vocabulary learning process is due to a shift in the way children approach words that are new to them. 

Once a wide vocabulary is developed, children begin to categorise words. Psychologists use the term fast-mapping to refer to this ability. Children begin to categorise after paying attention to words in whole groups.This can be things such as names of different fruit. By identifying what category a word belong to, the child can envisage “mental slots” for these words.Children initially categories things such as animals. However, they can become confused. An example of this may be a child seeing a cat and saying “see kitty”. We are initially unsure on what the child actually means. Is this kitty a kitty, or does she see it as any other furry animal like a dog? She may even use the word to only describe her OWN cat.

This is when under-extension and over-extension become apparent in speech. Under-extension is when a word is used for one specific object in a singular context. This suggests children believe words can only belong to one thing and is mostly common in the early stages of vocabulary development (before naming explosion). Over-extension is when children grasp the idea of categorising words. However, in this case, they do it inappropriately, such as using the word kitty in relation to all animals. (e.g. using a single word for multiple, unrelated categories).

magnetic-wordsThe development of grammar and pragmatics is important when stringing together words into sentences. In the fist instance, putting two words together, then three – and so on. Children firstly begin stringing together two words around the age of 18-24 months. This is not random, it happens when they develop a vocabulary of around 100-200 words (Fenson et al., 1994). 

The holophrase stage is when a toddler begins to combine a single word with a gesture, with a result of creating a “two-word meaning”. This happens before they even use two spoken words together in speech. An example of this is when a child says “cookie” and holds out their hand – indicating they would like one given to them. 

The Grammar Explosion stage is when sentences become longer. The vocabulary development is fundamental to this, as children who have a more complex understanding of grammar will develop complex vocabulary much easier. As they now understand how to construct sentences at this age, they will, therefore be able to understand new words better and be able to integrate them into their language much easier. During this stage, their speech becomes “telegraphic”, which according to linguists and psychologists is when two-word speech becomes evident in speech. Within the following few months, plurals, past tenses and auxiliary verbs are added into a child’s speech.

The Inflection stage is when the form of a word is changed, usually the end of it. Children begin adding inflections into predictable sequences. Roger Brown (1973) found that in the process of children learning English, inflection is most noticeable hone children add “ing” to the end of words. Once they get the hang of this, they begin doing it in order.children-language-development-milestones

Children develop a full understanding of the development of language once they begin to
understand social skills. It is important, from birth, that a child can communicate their feelings through facial expressions and gestures. These are simplistic forms of communication but are important in the sense that the baby has not learnt any words yet. This process of word learning is a coherent process of integrated stages, without which, we would not understand where a child is in their development of word learning.

I found by completing the reading and this associated tutor-directed task from Patricia Thomsons’s lecture to be very beneficial in reinforcing what she spoke about. It has helped me become more knowledgeable on the range of different theorists and the vast amount of other reading out there that is avaible to us as students to enhance our knowledge. It also helped me make the connections between thought and language, and the ways in which language is developed.


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…

Practitioner Enquiry

Practitioner enquiry an important support system for teachers to get them more engaged in supportive research that will aid both their pupils and themselves.

This wheel taken from the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)’s website was very useful in coming to terms with what practitioner enquiry actually is.

Practitioner enquiry involves engaging with teaching from a different approach. It is an investigative approach where practitioners (teachers) have a professional responsibility to further their own personal knowledge through their own research. They can then reflect on what they have found and share it with other professionals. It does not just involve a little bit of research though, it involves having the ability to question findings, strengthening the teachers understanding of professional practice.

There are some main areas of focus within practitioner enquiry. These involve clarifying the teacher’s aims, in order to challenge them for discussion. It is important it becomes a daily occurrence for professionals to aid them with their work and own professional development. It should also be used at all levels within education, not just by classroom teachers.

However, what actually is an enquiring practitioner? An enquiring practitioner is someone who has profound knowledge and understanding of their profession whilst still obtaining the ability to critique it. They should then ensure they use their voice to share it with like-minded professionals. They should be clear on the impact of their findings and be able to evidence it, investigating further any points of interest. 

Reflective teachers are important as they have the ability to consider what has happened in their lesson, both what went good and what did not, so they can then come up with solutions to improve their lessons in the future. This allows these lessons to be more concrete with the teacher having clear ideas of what she wants to achieve from them, essentially shaping them to be more effective. These reflective practitioners are the most valuable practitioners, as they can use their reflection to aid them in their profession.

With being an enquiring practitioner, comes the fact we need to work in collaboration with others. By sharing ideas and experiences with those from other areas, we are gaining a wider understanding of those topic areas. This is extremely beneficial to us as teachers to see things from a different perspective. It is also useful as it allows us to gain an insight to where we can gain new sources and what is currently of interest in the education sector.

There are some challenges with practitioner enquiry. Teachers already have a lot of responsibility and it is sometimes hard to constantly do extra work on top of everything. There are also those occasions where those we are collaborating with are not forthcoming and do not appear to be interested. This is very detrimental to a person’s motivation when someone they are working with appears to be disinterested.

As student teachers, we have agreed to be “lifelong” learners. Practitioner enquiry is a great beneficial way of doing so. It means we can develop professional opinions whilst constantly questioning them to ensure we have the best quality of knowledge. As a student teacher I can use this to gain new insights into the latest educational theories. This will then allow me to use them in the near future and within my studies. It will encourage me to keep up to date with our constantly changing education system, and remind me of the importance to continue developing my further knowledge of education.

The Physical Child

As teachers, we naturally focus on a child’s cognitive development due to many people’s expectations of our role. This means we tend to hone in on the development of their information processing, learning of language and aspects of brain development.

However, with a class full of developing children, there is more than one way to ensure healthy development. It has been found in countries such as Sweden who do not introduce formal education until around the age of 7 that educational achievement standards are considerably high compared to the UK, who, apart from Northern Ireland, have one of the youngest ages in which compulsory education begins. There are thought to many reasons for this and many people believe it is due to a lack of social skills formed at an early age through things such as family interaction.

In their first seven years, children are experiencing the most rapid period of growth in their life. Physical development is important in its own right, but it is also extremely important children develop things such as body awareness, coordination and control. This growth ensures that new behaviours will be possible, and essentially determines the future experiences of the child.

Throughout their lives, children are compared to national norms. As teachers, we need to be aware of what stages children should be at in certain periods of their life. This can be things such as knowing language should start becoming more fluent at age 4, and between the ages of 6 and 8 fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination should increase. We also have to be aware that not all children are the same, and some will develop much faster than others. 

There are many debates out there about the pace of development of children. The Maturational Viewpoint Debate argues that a success in a new behavioural task at a certain age is linked to the maturation of a new region within the brain. The Experiential hypothesis agrees with “A Theory of Experience” by Dewey (1938); whom agrees that practice is fundamental and there is very little need for any theory. The Dynamic Systems theory emphasises the boundaries that we believe to be fixed within development, but are actually just poorly defined.

Our role as teachers is to encourage development, not only within the classroom. Being passionate about sport and physical education, I believe physical education to be of extreme importance. If a child does not get the chance to experience something such as hand-eye coordination when they are younger, they will struggle when it comes to raquet games later in their life. By experiencing this at a young age, they are more likely to be successful in these areas when they are older.

Young children’s develop is cephalocaudal, meaning they learn to use their upper limbs before their lower limbs. This is noticeable as babies are fans of grasping onto things tightly, such as fingers! After this, they begin to develop movement in their lower extremities, such as learning to coordinate crawling. Locomotor skills are the basic ways in which we move. Not all children are physically ready when starting primary school, some start not having developed their locomotor skills as well as their peers, which is important to consider especially when teaching early years. I believe as teachers we have a duty to try and improve this, through basic physical education, to involve them in activities that will encourage the development of both their fine and gross motor skills. We, as adults, have an important role to help these children become aware of their body and the way it works. 

I believe it is important teachers are aware of the normal course of physical development, ensuring their class are not lacking in this essential part of development. This specific area influences other aspects of children’s development affecting it in a positive way, so the emphasis on it is obviously important. Therefore, we should not only focus on a child’s cognitive development which expected and also important, but we should also consider the development of “the whole child”, not just one or two areas.

The Orphans Hidden in the Iron Curtain era

I’ve always been aware that some children do not have such a fortunate upbringing. However, there is nothing I could have done to prepare myself for the shock of the Romanian Orphans upbringings.

Following Will Berry’s input on the physical child, in particular brain development, I decided to follow up his mention of Romanian orphans and read further into the topic.

To my shock, the first thing I came across was pages and pages of articles, all about the deprivation of these orphans. Many being documented articles on individual cases. It is seriously heartbreaking reading what these children went through. They were placed in state-run orphanages, many receiving only minutes of one to one care each day. Growing up in a small empty room, many being restrained to their beds. Understandably, this caused a lot of problems for these children. Most suffered deformities due to a lack of exercise. With a lack of social stimulation, they did not get the opportunity to develop properly. Some as old as teenagers could be mistaken for eight year olds, due to the fact social and emotional deprivation stunts growth. Many children lacked the ability to even walk properly due to being restrained in a crib staring at a blank ceiling for years. It is so clear to see the lack of development through the blank looks in the poor children eyes in the countless photographs online. Many children suffering from various disorders such as anxiety, depression and reactive attachment disorder, the most common being post-traumatic stress. It really says it all.

This issue within Romanian Orphanages prevailed after Nicolae Ceausescu, a Communist Dictator become President. He was worried about the ageing population, and decided to conquer this by banning contraception and abortions. He even passed a law stating women HAD to have five children, infertility was just not tolerated. Unfortunately, many parents could not afford to bring up all these children and had no choice other than to hand them over to the state. This put pressures on the orphanages which simply could not cope with the amount of orphans. It also caused a serious financial struggle, and due to a lack of equipment needles were shared and many blood supplies were contaminated. Due to this, there are still Romanian children today infected with H.I.V and AIDS, still forced to live without important medicines. It was not until Ceausescu was overthrown in 1989 that this disaster was revealed to the rest of the world.

Luckily due to this publicity, many Romanian orphans were then adopted. Rutter et al (2007) followed the lives of adopted Romanian orphans who were adopted by Western families, assessing their development. it is very interesting to find that even after years of neglect and no sensitive care, these children began to show signs of development, despite having attachment issues, especially with adults but also with peers. The findings also showed that children adopted before 6 months of age developed at the same rate as children adopted in Britain. This showed that once adopted, these children do have the opportunity to catch up, but unfortunately after 6 months of age the negative effects brought upon these children from the orphanages are more permanent. 

The effects of being placed in Romanian orphanages are unbearable to think about, but I feel it is important to be aware of what went on and consider the findings of these reports. A lot of these children have a very low IQ after being left to amuse themselves. This just highlights to me how important it is for a child to experience care and social stimulation, especially in their earliest years. It also brings up the issue that not everyone comes from the same walk of life. Some children come from neglectful backgrounds, and we have to be aware of this as teachers. All children deserve an equal chance in life, and especially in education.

Romanian Orphans

Image taken from: